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October 20, 2019

Lecturer ends life after ‘baseless’ harassment charges

Lahore

October 20, 2019

LAHORE :A sudden death of a young faculty member of Government MAO College on October 9 has turned out to be an alleged suicide which he committed after the college administration failed to issue a formal letter confirming his exoneration in an alleged harassment case.

A student of the college’s Mass Communication Department had leveled allegations of harassment against teacher Muhammad Afzal of the college’s English Department in April/May this year. The administration referred the case to the college’s harassment committee headed by Prof Dr Aaliya Rehman, Head of the Physics Department. The committee exonerated the lecturer, terming the allegations baseless and fabricated.

However, after a week of the faculty member’s death, reports started circulating on social media that it was actually a suicide as indicated in a short note by the late Muhammad Afzal. The signed note written in English dated Oct. 9, on a plain paper, reads: “I leave this matter in the court of Allah. The police are requested not to investigate and bother anybody.”

Another letter by the late Muhammad Afzal to the enquiry officer, Prof Dr Aaliya Rehman, dated Oct. 8, which made rounds on social media, and which she confirmed to have received, has more details about agony the young teacher had suffered including disturbed family life after the harassment charges were leveled against him. Reportedly, Prof Dr Aaliya Rehman had handed over the inquiry report to college principal Prof Dr Farhan Ebadat Yar Khan who was supposed to issue ‘a clearance letter’ to the lecturer Muhammad Afzal.

In a related development, a tussle between the college principal and DPI Colleges Punjab and his subordinate office (Director of Colleges) has also surfaced. DPI Colleges Ch Jehangir Ahmad in a letter to the Secretary Higher Education (HED) Punjab on Oct. 16 alleged Prof Dr Farhan Ebadat Yar Khan of using vulgar language against high-ups. The official based his letter on a strong-worded complaint by Deputy Director Colleges (B&P) Muhammad Ahtasham Jan Butt against the principal. The same day the principal had also written a letter to the DPI Colleges about the alleged arrogant attitude of the deputy director and “shouting at him” during an official conversation on telephone on Oct. 16.

An official of the department, seeking anonymity, said the department’s Secretary had already asked both principal and the DPI Colleges for personal hearing in the coming week and added the recent episode about alleged suicide of the teacher would not be seen in isolation in the meetings.

When contacted, Prof Dr Farhan Ebadat Yar Khan said the inquiry committee had exonerated the teacher and it was the conclusion of the report some three months back. He claimed the late Muhammad Afzal neither met him nor demanded any clearance certificate. He added if the inquiry officer had received any letter a day before the alleged suicide, she should have immediately shared it with him.

“I have been receiving calls after calls from media persons since morning about the alleged suicide. In case I die of a heart attack, can my family hold the media accountable for my death?” Prof Farhan Ebadat questioned.

When contacted, HED Secretary Sajid Zafar Daal said the harassment case had concluded with the inquiry conducted by the college. To a question, he said the college did not share any detail about the inquiry as it was conducted by the college’s own harassment committee. “However, I intend to officially get the details when I meet the principal on Monday,” he added. Sajid Zafar Daal said he would also listen to the DPI Colleges and others on Tuesday as both parties had written letters against each other.

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