ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani student was arrested yesterday after stabbing his professor to death for organizing a mixed-gender reception at a government college, police said. Associate professor Khalid Hameed was killed yesterday on the campus of Sadiq Egerton College in the southern city of Bahawalpur, a local police official told AFP. “The professor had organized a gender mix reception for the new students and the event was supposed to take place tomorrow, on Thursday,” he said.

According to the report registered with the police, a copy of which was seen by AFP, the student had shouted that he killed the professor because he was “spreading obscenity”. “The gender mix reception is against the teachings of Islam and I had warned him to stop it,” he was quoted as saying in the report filed with the police. The professor’s son Waleed Khan, who was with him at the time of the incident, said the student was waiting for his father.

“As my father was about to step into his office, the guy attacked him with a knife, hitting him at his head and stomach,” he told AFP. “My father then fell down and I rushed to him, the student held his knife and started shouting ‘I have killed him, I had told him that a gender mix reception is against Islam’,” he said. “We took him to hospital but he had already died,” he said.

The attacker was wrestled to the ground by students present at the party rehearsal but they could not save Hameed, who died of his wounds after being taken to a local hospital, college principal Wali Muhammad told Reuters. Egerton College is one of few institutions in Pakistan with a majority female student population, with 4,000 women attending alongside 2,000 male students, Muhammad said. The dead professor had been due to retire in four months.

The Punjab provincial government said on Twitter that the student had been arrested and the chief minister had sought a report from the police. Mixed-gender events are not uncommon in Pakistan’s educational institutions but they come with more restrictions in government-owned colleges than in private ones. Recently, a government university in Punjab issued a dress code barring female students from wearing tops with a deep neckline, sleeveless shirts, tights, skinny jeans or capri pants. In many government universities there is a ban on students sitting as “couples” and “inappropriate” interaction between male and female students.

Religion and gender are sensitive topics in Pakistan, where women’s rights are often described as un-Islamic by rightwing religious groups. Last year, a school principal was shot and killed after reprimanding a student for missing classes to attend a protest organized by an ultra-right wing Islamist group. The student equated the teacher’s words with blasphemy, police said.

This month, a women’s march was condemned by the country’s religious right and its organizers were threatened with rape and death for publicly demonstrating against taboo topics such as sexual harassment and the demonization of divorce, and for calling out men for not doing housework. A Thomson Reuters Foundation poll found Pakistan to be the sixth most dangerous country for women in 2018. – Agencies