By Saadia Gardezi:
A girl today has been shot dead on the overhead bridge on Jail Road. The young girl was a student at Kinnaird College, it is said that she was studying computer science at the FA level. The circumstances are however unclear, but there is speculation that it was a jilted lover who shot her and then shot himself.
I mean to write this not to try to understand the crime or the sad state of mind of the girl or boy in question. But the problem that needs to be addressed is the safety of students on the roads, especially female students. This notorious bridge has been the cause for much distress for female students in the past as many well-mannered Lahori bachelors are found loitering here. The teasing and catcalls are nothing new for the girls and they would rather risk the rabid traffic of Jail Road and cross the massive street than be subjected to the natural talents of these gentlemen.
In this regards complaints have been made to the police but to no avail. These bridges are a safety hazard for not just the KC-ites. There are seven overhead bridges situated right in front of some of the city’s largest universities. There are two overhead bridges at Jail Road, in front of Kinnaird College (KC) and Lahore College for Women University (LCWU), one in front of the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (UVAS), another near the Queen Mary College Lahore, while three overhead bridges are on the Canal in the University of the Punjab New Campus.
LCWU chief proctor Surayya Ahmad told The Express Tribune that at least two students had even been mugged on the LCWU bridge (June, 2011). The KC Jail Road bridge also features in many horror stories, from muggings and girls being pushed around to random proposals and harassment. The Express Tribune reports that an officer at Shadman police station, which has jurisdiction over the bridge, said that they had last received a harassment complaints from Kinnaird a while ago, but before police got to the scene, the boys had fled. He said that Shadman police were very busy and couldn’t spare any personnel to deploy at the bridge.
“The overheard bridge in front of my university has given me sleepless nights as the life of my staff and students is not safe because of it,” said LCWU Vice Chancellor Professor Dr Bushra Mateen back in 2009 (Daily Times). It was then the view of the city police that it was the responsibility of the administration of the institutions to provide adequate security to their students and they should hire security personnel for the purpose, even though they were “trying their best”. But the need is clear and has been so for some years. If the police knows these bridges are trouble spots why not station an officer there during college time or at least have a regular patrol. Why wait for someone to get hurt/shot/murdered?
Saadia Gardezi teaches at the Lahore School of Economics and Kinnaird College for Women