Baloch organisation claims torching university buses
By Malik Siraj Akbar
QUETTA: Activists belonging to an organization calling itself the Baloch Warna Organization [The Baloch youth organization] claimed on Monday responsibility for burning two and damaging one students’ buses belonging to the Balochistan University of Information Technology and Management Sciences (BUITMS).
According to the police officials, unknown masked persons stopped the BUITMS buses when they were on the road, forcefully asked the driver to get down and burnt the buses in two separate incidents. In another similar attack, a third bus was damaged when the attackers pelted stones on it. As a result, one person also received minor injuries. The university buses were burnt in Shalkot and Burma hotel areas of Sariab Road while the third bus was attacked on the Brewery Road when its driver and student passengers were asked to get down before the unknown persons could damage them.
Police officials said they were investigating the matter and thought elements that are trying to promote violent activities in the province could be behind this incident.
A hitherto unknown organization calling itself the Baloch Warna Organization accepted responsibility for the burning of the two university buses and warned of carrying out more similar attacks in the future.
Mir Sheragam Baloch, who identified himself as the spokesman of the new organization, called at the Quetta Press Club and accepted responsibility for setting on fire the university buses. He said his organization demanded the induction of a district merit-based quota system at the BUITMS where the local Baloch students were currently being allegedly discriminated against.
“If the admission policy is not revised and admissions are not given on the basis of district-based quota system rather than a country-wide open merit, more such attacks would be carried out in the future. Students coming from outside Balochistan will also be attacked in the future,” warned the spokesman.
Baloch students at the BUITMS have been protesting since last year to pressurize the university administration to change the existing admission policy. Last year, three Baloch students sat on an unto death hunger strike and were supported by hundreds of Baloch students. Later on, they called off their strike when they were assured by the Balochistan government that the admission policy would be revised.
While the Baloch students demand district-based quota system, the Pashtoon, Punjabi and Hazaras students, on the other hand, support the existing open-merit system for the admissions at the BUITMS saying that the quota system discourages an atmosphere of competition at the higher education level.
The culture of burning buses of the educational institutions as a sign of protest gained momentum in August 2006 when the Baloch students burnt more than ten buses of the University of Balochistan in protest against the killing of Baloch leader Nawab Mohammad Akbar Bugti.