I woke up this morning with a frown. The weather outside was uncooperative, furiously windy one minute and rainy and wet the next. The sun, adamant against coming out from its hiding spot under the thick, dark clouds, was nowhere to be seen. This was peculiar, considering most April mornings in Lahore are blindingly sunny and perspiringly hot. It seemed the gods were in a foul mood, and as I found out why, I realised they were totally justified in playing around with the climate.
A girl in the corridor informed that all classes were cancelled today. Still half-asleep, I stumbled to the washroom, happy that I could sleep in, until I heard the girl call out that the cancellation was due to a student’s death. Wide awake, I froze and thought, Oh no, not again, not another one. Last year, at approximately this time of year, a Luminite had committed suicide. It had been a shocking incident, the first to occur on this campus. As I brushed my teeth and tried to calm my heart down, I overheard snatches of conversation that informed me that the death was a result of a car accident, something about a drunk driver, a well-connected father who swooped in with a bundle of notes, an absconding passenger and the absense of justice. Needless to say, it took a few hours and many questions to establish the actuality of what had really happened.
Today, at about 5 am, a large Land Cruiser sped recklessly through the street, crashed into a pole and went hurling across the road, landing on a smaller car, killing its driver and injuring its other passengers. The driver and two other occupants of the Land Cruiser were heavily drunk and driving rashly, their joyride turning into a death sentence for Waheeb Alam, driver of the smaller car and a 3rd year student of LUMS. The emergency services arrived 45 minutes after being called, by which time Alam, being trapped in an upturned car, had bled to death.
A police search of the larger vehicle revealed a stash of alcoholic beverages, as well as, according to some allegations, many intoxicating pills. These were then disposed of by the law enforcement officers after the perpetrators placed a quick call to a high-powered bigwig. Many students from LUMS arrived on scene and then went to the police office to file an FIR, which many witnesses claim was filed 6 hours after the accident occured rather than immediately afterwards. At the hospital, doctors refused to treat the injured passengers, claiming that they needed clearance from the police. As a result, the victims of the accident, one of which was in a critical condition, were left untreated for quite a while. Blood samples taken from the accused, two of whom are behind bars while one has fled, were taken to prove their alcohol intake 10 hours ago and their results have yet to be disclosed. The fact that, despite the presence of media vans and cameras, this incident hardly received any coverage, was shown on TV only for a few minutes, and completely absent from any of the online newsfeeds of the top news agencies of Pakistan, such as Geo and Dawn. The peaceful protesters of LUMS dispersed this afternoon after an MNA arrived of scene, giving reassurances of justice. Thus far, justice has yet to be served.
The VC, along with criminal attorney Salman Safdar, held an informal gathering this evening, appealing to any and all the witnesses, asking all those who have pictures of the cars and the crime scene to come forward and help further the investigation. Claims of corrupt law enforcement officers, tampered evidence, and nepotism towards the perpetrators have been voiced and we have been reassured that they will all be looked into. Yet, in a country that is ruled by well-connected big shots who exchange money and favours without a second thought, will we ever really be sure that a just, transparent investigation will be carried out? Despite reassurances from top-level government officials, the idea that this will be yet another incident that will be brushed away under the carpet is one that clouds every mind at LUMS.
On campus, a strong sense of bonhomie after this tragic incident joins the students together. Perhaps, the thought that binds us all together is that it could’ve been any one of us. The area where the accident occured is at a walking-distance from campus, one which we frequent many times a week. The deceased, Waheeb Alam, was one of us, a Luminite who had just performed 2 nights ago at a play on campus. Never had we thought that death would strike so close to home. As we all walk around with solemn expressions and mournful demeanours, the thought, “That could’ve been me” prevails over us all.