Mashal Khan, a journalism student at Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan, Pakistan, was killed by a large group of students over an allegedly heated debate. A heated debate over religion turned violent after students start accusing him of blasphemy against Islam. This turned the atmosphere hostile and the mob charged towards the University hostel where Mashal Khan was.
The mob was so large that they broke inside the university hostel even after the gate was locked by the warden and unleashed their anger on Mashal.
Blasphemy is punishable in Pakistan under several laws. Though there haven’t been any police complaints or police record against Mashal for saying any controversial thing against religion in the past, he was critical of political and orthodox systems. His close friends and relatives describe him as a devotee of Islam with curious mind, who used to ask a lot of questions over religion. His ransacked university hostel room still has posters of Karl Marx and Che Guevara still hanging on the walls and a quote “be curious, crazy and mad.”
The mob was incited by rumours being circulated within the University’s student body.
One of the posts on his Facebook timeline:
Mashal was severely injured and bloodied, gunshots were fired at him – shots that must have killed him within moments. But even that didn’t stop the mob: in a video footage of the incident, the lifeless body of Mashal is seen lying on the floor, surrounded by the bloodthirsty mob. His body bore marks of severe torture. The mob could be seen kicking and jumping on his dead body, beating it with wooden sticks.
The presence of more than 20 policemen did not change the outcome of this horrific incident. According to the policemen, they were outnumbered by the mob and there was nothing that they could have done.
— Ayaz Khan (@azzkhann) April 14, 2017
— Qaisar Roonjha (@QRoonjha) April 14, 2017
Echoes in India
Last month in Tamil Nadu, India, an atheist, M Farooq, 32 and father of two, was mercilessly killed for questioning religion on his Facebook posts.
There are many more such cases you may hear about around you.
The Logical Indian take
The incident in Pakistan is the outcome of an atmosphere of religious bigotry and majoritarianism, where diversity of thought is inherently discouraged not only by society but also by the law in the form of ridiculous blasphemy laws and curbs on free speech.
But India – India is supposed to be better, owing to its championship of democracy and individualism.
We must not forget that our nation’s vigour lies in its liberalism and secularism. That’s the reason India became what it is today. This has been our major strength from the day one. It should not be so hard to spot the difference.
Can’t we see what extremism and religious fundamentalism have done to Pakistan? Shouldn’t we Indians take a lesson from it? Are our religious beliefs and nationalism so weak that we allow hate and bigotry to overcome basic human decency?
Most of the times such fringe groups dictating morals, teaching others nationalism, protecting religion don’t even know whose agenda they are carrying or displaying. Even if someone is trying to disrespect a religion then we have the judiciary to go to. Let the law decide if the person is culprit or just falsely declared because certain people have some other agenda behind it (this holds true for Pakistan with its bountiful blasphemy laws; India also has laws that oppose mockery of religion – the validity of such laws in a free speech society is another debate).
The Logical Indian strongly advocates for tolerance towards all believers and non-believers. Morality and religion are nobody’s to impose upon anyone.