LAHORE: Fear and panic spread among Punjab University students as law enforcement agencies conducted a mock drill at the institution just a day after a barbaric attack on Charsadda’s Bacha Khan University during which 21 people were killed.
Footage of the mock drill shows terrified Punjab University students ─ who were unaware of the exercise ─ screaming and fleeing as they catch sight of law enforcement personnel, faces covered, guns at the ready, barrelling through corridors.
The video of the mock operation shows a group of armed men streaking across university grounds, charging down a hallway and conducting classroom breaches as part of the exercise to clear the premises and evacuate students.
PU students can be heard screaming when they spot the ‘attackers’ and seen fleeing the scene.
Students rushed out of classrooms, clutching their belongings, cellphones glued to their ears, as security forces rehearse their drill at the university’s English department.
Superintendent Police Muhammad Iqbal of the Iqbal Town Division Operation Wing said that while university administration was informed of the exercise beforehand, the students were not.
The purpose of the drill, he said, was to check security forces’ responses and preparedness in the event of an emergency.
The Quick Response Force (QRF), Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD), Elite Forces and local police joined forces on the mock exercise. QRF, CTD and Elite Forces personnel cover their faces when conducted operations.
Once students spotted the armed men, they were informed the procedure was a drill and evacuated hurriedly out of the premises, he said.
Punjab University Public Relations Officer Khurram Shahzad said university administration cooperated with security personnel to conduct the ‘rehearsal’. Students were unaware of the drill, he said, admitting many had been scared and panicked as the exercise took place.
Punjab University Registrar Dr Liaquat Ali said the drill was a “reaction to the attack on Bacha Khan University yesterday”.
He said staff members and certain students knew about the drill, but most students were intentionally kept in the dark in order to make the drill “seem more real”.
A government circular issued Wednesday ordered foolproof security arrangements in public, private, missionary, armed forces, multinational schools, colleges and universities. The exercise was also a means to check security in the educational institution.
Security in the province, especially in Lahore, has been beefed up since the Charsadda attack, with police convoys making the rounds and doing a flagmarch to display their presence in the area.
All divisional SPs have been instructed to be on high alert and told to carry out security inspections. If security lapses are spotted, the administration will be questioned and instructed to improve their security.
In April 2015, teachers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province were given firearms training and allowed to carry guns into the classroom in a bid to strengthen security following the Army Public School massacre in Dec 2014.