On April 13, 2017, Pakistan witnessed the worst of its traits, when a young, energetic, lively and outspoken Mashal Khan was lynched to death inside the hostels of the Abdul Wali Khan University (AWKUM), on false charges of blasphemy.
A Marxist and a socialist, Mashal Khan was a student of the Mass Communication and Journalism department. In his batch, he was the one who stood out, spoke against all the vices of humanity, and the university itself. It was to be his stand against the university administration that would end up being the cause of his death.
In mid hours of the day, hundreds of fanatic students lynched Mashal Khan to death. One person shot him, while others beat the remaining life out of him. This whole ordeal, was recorded by cameras.
Since his death, investigation has proved, that Mashal Khan was absolutely innocent and did not commit a single act of blasphemy, while fake profiles in his name were set up to defame him. The main accused, dozens in numbers, were arrested. Some were let go, while others were given punishment. One year later, loved ones of Mashal Khan still worry about their life and security.
You might remember Mashal’s teacher from AWKUM, Ziaullah Hamdard, who spoke in his favor and made sure that nobody could press false charges of blasphemy against his once very bright student. Today, Ziaullah Hameed sits in hiding, according to Dawn News, at the Police Lines, because nowhere else will he be safe and secure.
Away from his family and life, Mashal’s incident ruined Hamdard’s career, but he knew that before he spoke against the people involved in the case. Blasphemy is a very touchy topic in Pakistan, and mostly, fanatics do not demand proof, just make sure they carry out their duties.
“Soon after Mashal’s lynching, everyone stood by the killers who are from influential families,” he says. “No one stood up for Mashal, Abdullah and Zubair [the two students accused of blasphemy alongside Mashal].” – Hamdard told Dawn News.
“Mashal’s murder has left many at the mercy of people who celebrate and glorify killers. As a result of the state’s policies, intellect, wisdom and creativity are dying as the society slides towards darkness.”
Another key person in the Mashal Khan case, his friend Abdullah, has now taken refuge in Saudi Arabia. Since he could not afford the travel expenses, a police official and a politician had donated money to save his life and send him away from vultures preying for him.
On April 13, 2017, the fanatics did not only take Mashal’s life, but also snatched away the voice against injustice. People today are afraid demanding their rights, that they too, might be blamed falsely like Mashal Khan.