Inquiry Report on
Brutal Murder of Mashal Khan
Pakistan International Human Rights Organization (PIHRO)
Mashal Khan was a Pakistani student at the Abdul Wali khan University Mardan killed by an angry mob in the premises of the university in April 2017 over allegations of posting blasphemous content.
Mashal Khan was born in District Swabi KPK Pakistan in a religious family of Village zyaida. His father name is Iqbal Khan. Mashal Khan had one brother and two sisters and was 25 years old at the time of his murder. He has completed his college in the Institute of computer and Management Sciences on a scholarship and received good marks. He then received a scholarship to study in a university in Russia where he studied engineering for one year. He then returned to Pakistan without completing his studies due to the family’s limited financial resources. Upon returning to Pakistan, he enrolled in the department of journalism at Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan and was planning to do a Master’s in mass media and journalism and was also preparing for his civil services exams.
His father told us that Mashal Khan was very passionate about his studies. He would study for 15 hours a day. He believed education could become a source of great strength. Mashal would encourage his brothers and sister to study as well. He was a peaceful, tolerant person. He was also a Pashto poet. When we visit University one of his teachers told us that Mashal was a humanist, he was into socialism and Sufism. A teacher described Khan as “A passionate and critical student. He was brilliant and inquisitive, always complaining about the political system of the country, but I never heard him saying anything controversial against the religion.
When the team of Pakistan international human rights organization meets with Mashal khan teacher Zia Ullah told all the story about this tragedy and says that he was not even given the chance to prove his innocence, he lamented. They mob were in front of me yet I was not able to do anything. I haven’t been able to sleep since the past four days Mashal was a humanist, he was into socialism and Sufism. He would often discuss Sufism with me remarked the teacher. I never saw Mashal without a book in his hand. He was well-versed in different languages and striking a conversation with him always proved to be fruitful. Zia Ullah also said Mashal was his student, friend and son. Mashal was like a lamp. If all the lamps are put out then the nation will continue to live in darkness, he said. Mashal’s killing was politically motivated. Zia Ullah also requests the PHIRO Team to awake the religious scholars to speak against people taking law in their own hands in response to blasphemy allegations.
The teacher also announced his resignation from the university after alleging that university administration played an integral role in the escalation of the situation. He said that he has been teaching at the Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan for the last four years, of which he spent three years fighting the university politics. Zia Ullah also shared his version of the lynching of Mashal Khan. He said that on the day he got a call from a teaching assistant Anees at 11am. He was asked to immediately reach the department as a mob had gathered claiming that some students have committed blasphemy. He asked the mob of students, which also comprised his students, what was the matter. They told him that Mashal Khan and other students have made statements against Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), and alleged that Mashal was a Russian spy. However, the lecturer asked them for proof but the mob failed to produce anything. on the other hand, university’s education and sports teachers were also present at the scene. One of the teachers told the enraged mob that the accusations will be investigated and accused students be rusticated.
But, Zia Ullah tried to stop the teachers and told them to not to encourage the people. With the mob out and about, Zia Ullah messaged Mashal to leave the university’s premises, to which he replied that he has already left. Zia Ullah says then we reached faculty hostel and there another mob comprising students of other department was gathered. The mob called him a ‘hypocrite’ and questioned him about the whereabouts of Mashal. Zia Ullah said he does not know where he was. Then, the mob went inside his room and searched for Mashal. They confiscated his cell phone and locked him inside the room, later the room was opened by another university teacher. I was just scared that the mob does not trace Mashal through my cell phone. However, when he reached the department it was already too late.
He was informed that Mashal has been killed by the mob. The teacher was then taken by the police as he feared for his life. Zia Ullah also spoke about the controversial notification which was issued by the university’s administration to investigate blasphemy accusations against Mashal and two other students. The teacher expressed his disgust at educated university officials for making such a decision and not even allowing the student the chance to prove his innocence. He, however, claimed that he was not a part of the notification which was issued. Earlier, university’ provost Fayyaz Ali Shah had also claimed that he was unaware that such a notification had been issued.
After that the PHIRO team Visit Sheikh Melton police station Mardan regarding Mashal Khan Incident Share by Mardan District Police Officer Dr. Main Saeed told us that on Friday the cases were registered under clauses 427, 297, 302 and 148 of the Pakistan Penal Code and section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act. He also said that 20 suspects, who were identified from videos of the gruesome incident, have been nominated in the cases registered at the Sheikh Melton police station. The suspects included a counselor (Arif from Irum colony) and four university employees besides students. Police have formed three teams to arrest the remaining suspects, the DPO said that official added that 59 people have been detained over the incident and are being interrogated. Meanwhile, the funeral prayers for the slain student, identified as Mohammad Mashal Khan, were offered at Zaida village in Swabi district on Friday morning.
When the PHIRO Team visits the Village Zyaida Swabi where we meet University friends Yasir khan (President PSF Peshawar University) and Saddam Hussain they told that we advised to Mashal khan 20 days ago that his life in Danger and you may leave the University for some time and compromise the University administration. One of the faculty member of the journalism and mass communication Faisal Khan told us that 80% students brings their own weapons to University without any restrictions from security present on main gate.
Pakistan International Human Rights Organization (PIHRO) strongly condemns the murder of Mashal Khan and would urge the govt. of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Federal Government and law enforcement agencies to take strict action against the persons involved in murder, so that we can avoid such incidents in future.