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Of indifference and empathy

Updated April 15, 2017

PESHAWAR: The lynching of a young person in Mardan on the basis of allegations by fellow university students has sent shock waves through the country. Besides, the incident has also exposed many faces. There is indifference and empathy.

The chief executive of the province indifferently shrugged off all government responsibility. The aggrieved ones, the father having the patience of Job in this case, still says it is alright if he doesn’t get justice but wants the society to wake up before more youths are engulfed by such mob.

The protector has become indifferent with the vulnerable ones elected them as their leader are trying to show resilience and courage. Such are the norms of a democratic society, these days.

CM Pervez Khattak didn’t hold anyone responsible in the government for failure to save a young man from being lynched by a mob inside Mardan’s public sector university on April 13 over blasphemy allegations in the broad daylight.


Father of lynched student wants society to wake up before more youths become target of mob attacks


“Don’t throw all responsibility at us. Throw it at someone else, too. The provincial government doesn’t have Aladdin’s lamp so that it could fly and be present everywhere,” CM said as he cleared the provincial government of any responsibility to protect the lives of people at public institutions.

Iqbal Jan, the grieving father of the lynched student from Zaida village in Swabi district, holds the serpentine system of governance and rule of law (rather lack of rule of law) for his son’s killing.

“You kill my son and then accuse him of something like that (blasphemy). That is an extreme cruelty,” said Iqbal Jan in a discontented tone yet quickly composing himself while talking to media at the funeral of his son.

He graciously let the government free of the responsibility of his son’s murder but wanted the civil society and rights activist to raise their voice to save youth in the country.

“It is alright! It’s alright that I don’t get justice but hope they will save others from such an end,” he wished.

The CM showing no remorse pinned the responsibility to control such riots on the vice-chancellor though no one has been appointed to that post at the Abdul Wali Khan University.

“It is responsibility of the vice-chancellor to call in police during such riots,” he said, adding that he believed the incident occurred for 10-15 minutes and by the time the police reached there, the youths was killed.

The Abdul Wali Khan University is among 11 universities of the province functioning without a vice-chancellor.

“The VC’s appointment was delayed due to the process involved. I will soon decide about the VC’s appointment,” said the CM, who did not budge from his earlier statement that it was not the police’s failure that the mob lynched a youth even when the five policemen were already inside the campus.

Ironically even the news conference at which the CM spoke on Friday was not about the incident.

The CM turned up at the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Hall on time for the news conference but to the surprise of reporters, he was not there to condemn the lynching or accept the government’s failure as the chief executive of the province to check the killing of a youth inside a public sector university. He wanted to speak about his expectations of his government’s upcoming investment road show in China.

The CM said willy-nilly that a judicial commission would hold inquiry into the matter and advised youths not to take the law into their hand.

“If someone has any evidence of blasphemy, they should not take law into their own hands and instead, report it to the police as there is stricter punishment under the law for such crimes,” he said.

The 25-year old Mashal Khan along with his two classmates was accused of posting anti-Islamic material on social media, which was instead inspiring poetry and quotations displayed on his social media pages and even on the walls of his hostel room.

However, the blasphemy allegations spread like the jungle’s fire and engulfed even the truth.

Even more than 24 hours after the incident, not a single person or any evidence on blasphemy charges has been brought forth.

“No evidence or witness has come forward so far to tell what had happened,” he claimed.

Several attempts were made to contact class fellows and teachers of the deceased but there came no knowledge of what ignited the university students to torture, drag and kick a youth in his bloom to death.

Anybody who went through social media account of the deceased found nothing but enlightened views and poetry speaking of a sensitive youth. Many who went through his Twitter and Facebook account complained about having a sleepless night.

It is sad that one will be looking for reasons to know why a youth was killed – as we have assumed him guilty since he is dead and no one is trying to nab those who killed him by taking the law into their hands.

“I am numb and I cannot talk about it,” said an academician (name withheld) shocked by the lynching incident.

One could sense fear in his voice. He feared the sentiments that led to such an act was still there lurking around in every university and school since the curriculum taught for years at them was replete with topics, which could easily ignite a fire and thus, leading one into a extreme point, a point from where there is no return.

He is a father, too, and hopes that no father would see what Iqbal Jan had to see.

Published in Dawn, April 15th, 2017