PESHAWAR: A fact-finding committee set up by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to conduct an inquiry into the Bacha Khan University (BKU) attack has called for the removal of the the university’s vice chancellor and security incharge.
After finding the two responsible for “serious lapses in the security management” of the varsity that resulted in the assault that claimed 21 lives, the committee concluded that, “not a single [security] aspect was taken care of,” according to a copy of the report, which is available with Dawn.com, and which has been submitted to KP Chief Minister Pervez Khattak.
- Ineffective CCTV cameras
- Security staff untrained and inadequately compensated
- Absence of SOPs
- Lack of coordination
The three-member committee comprising Commissioner Peshawar Dr Muhammad Fakhr-i-Alam, Regional Police Officer Mardan Saeed Wazir and Special Secretary Higher Education Department Ghafoor Baig released its findings after going through available record and after recording oral and written statements of the BKU staff.
By ignoring security advisories, “the university leadership failed its students and employees at all levels”, the report maintains.
‘Useless’ CCTV facility
During the course of the inquiry, the committee found that preventative security measures including observation posts at “almost all the buildings” were in place and CCTV cameras were installed at various points along the boundary wall of the university.
However, due to an absence of a central control room for monitoring, the “installation of cameras was rendered useless”. Besides, the functioning of all cameras is “doubtful”, the inquiry report said.
It further said that when the committee inspected the site from where the terrorists scaled the campus wall, the CCTV camera covering that spot was found facing the wrong direction.
Untrained security staff
The security staff at BKU was ill-prepared and as many as 50 per cent of them were found to be absent on day of the attack, the report said.
Out of a total strength of 59, 29 security personnel have been working on daily wages for an “inadequate” sum of Rs320 a day, the report said.
Most of the security staff at BKU were civilians and not properly trained while the director of security himself is a PhD doctor, “who is neither a professional security person nor trained for the job”.
The BKU security administration did not have the training to handle situations like one of a terrorist assault, the committee stated in the report, and standard operating procedures (SOPs) for both routine and terrorist attacks were absent.
Because of lack of a proper security mechanism, “no coordinated or organised response [to the attack] could be established”, the report said.
“The whole situation was being handled individually by security guards deployed at the resthouse and later on in the boys’ hostel.”
Lack of coordination
The holding of a mushaira (poetry recitation) that was scheduled to be held at the varsity on account of Bacha Khan’s death anniversary on the day the attack took place had not been coordinated with the district administration, the inquiry revealed.
The report quoted the BKU registrar and director administration as saying that such functions are arranged by departments on their own and information on them is usually not shared with the local administration or police.
“This is despite the fact that the university was issued repeated advisories by the police,” the report said.
Only one syndicate meeting
The committee said the BKU administration was unable to maintain security standards despite the fact that the governor/chancellor had issued specific instructions to all vice chancellors in the aftermath of the Army Public School attack.
During the past one year after the APS tragedy, only one meeting of the university syndicate was called and that too for budget approval.
The issue of security was not presented before the syndicate hence approval was not obtained to create posts in order to hire expert security personnel, the inquiry report said.
Removal of VC, security incharge
Holding them responsible for the security lapses, the committee has called for the removal of BKU Vice Chancellor Fazal Rahim and Security Incharge Ashfaq Ahmed.
The committee concluded that because Director Security Dr Muhammad Shakeel performed his duty on the attack day and saved students from two terrorists despite having no expertise in the field, he was not responsible for the lapses.
The committee has recommended hiring security guards on a permanent basis and providing them adequate training and weapons.
It has also called for the establishment of a proper control room and CCTV mechanism so immediate response can be ensured in emergency situations.