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As it happened: Mardan university professor recalls chaos of April 13

Updated April 18, 2017

A lecturer from Abdul Wali Khan University, Mardan who knew Mashal Khan personally has spoken at length about the events that led up to the 23-year-old's horrific murder by a crazed mob of students on Thursday, April 13 within the university's premises.

Ziaullah Hamdard, while appearing on Geo TV's 'Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Sath' on Monday evening, recalled: "I received a phone call from the department telling me that there were some students in the department trying to create some disruption and there was only one female teacher present in the whole department."

"I left the teaching hostel and reached the department within five to ten minutes, but when I reached there a mob was already starting to form. I asked a few of the students to come discuss the matter in my office," Hamdard narrated.

"While the students were sitting in my room and talking to me, Abdullah was in the university admin's room and texting Mashal about what was happening."

"During this time Mashal sent me two text messages telling me that this whole scenario is politically motivated and that he had not done anything that they were accusing him of."

"The university clerk, Anees, called Mashal with Abdullah's phone and told him to leave the university until the matter was resolved. He [said he] had left the university premises and we took a sigh of relief and focused on getting Abdullah out of the university premises,"

"The clerk moved Abdullah into the admin bathroom to keep him safe as the mob was getting bigger," Hamdard maintained.

"Those students sitting in my office were very angry: some said Mashal was a Russian spy, others said that he had posted blasphemous content on social media — but when I asked them about proof for either of these allegations, they did not have any,"

"While I was trying to calm them down, the mob outside my office was building up, and the university’s education and sports teachers also arrived at the scene. One of them told the crowd that if they think Mashal had committed blasphemy then the university will investigate the matter and rusticate the boys involved," Hamdard alleged.

"I expressed my displeasure at that and told the teacher he should not have said that. He replied saying 'I only did it so the crowd would disperse, the teachers can all sit down and discuss the matter once the students have settled down'. But before we could talk about it the mob started getting out of hand," Hamdard narrated.

"We arrived in the office where Abdullah was being hidden. The DSP police and other teachers were also there. We locked the room to keep him [Abdullah] safe but the mob was raging — they broke the door of my office and started hitting the other professors and myself," he said.

He added: "They threw me to one side while the DSP and the other professors tried to hold them off, eventually the got to the bathroom door, and dragged Abdullah out and started hitting him."

"More police arrived and they saved Abdullah," he said.

"The scene in front of my eyes distressed me greatly, once the crowd dispersed I made my way to the teaching hostel. A mob of students from different departments had gathered there and they were looking for me. They said I was a traitor and was hiding Mashal in my room," Hamdard said.

"I was satisfied that Mashal was not there so I confronted them and said they can come take a look at my room themselves."

"I quickly deleted Mashal's texts from my inbox and just in time, as they took my phone away and locked me in my hostel room, which they had trashed already."

"Some teachers got me out once the mob had left and I got into my car and made my way to the admin block"

"The teachers and administration there tried to calm me down. They were discussing if the university should remain open or should be shut, but none of them listened to what I had to say."

"In the meanwhile, someone said 'he has been killed' and I immediately asked if it was Abdullah that had lost his life. Someone replied, 'No, Mashal has been killed'."

"I was shocked; Mashal had assured me he had left the premises."

"The police officials escorted me out of the admin block and took me to the police lines."

"I have been receiving threats since the incident, but I am not afraid to tell the truth."

"I would like our ulema [religious scholars] to tell the nation that the religion does not allow anyone to take the law in their own hands."

The professor held the university's administration culpable in the crime. One of his more startling allegations was that a university-issued notification regarding an investigation into blasphemy committed by Mashal Khan, Abdullah and a third student, Zubair, was publicised only to divert blame away from the university's culpability in the incident.

"Those students that committed those heinous crimes were young, but these people in the university administration and faculty that cooked up that fake notification are adults and influential people."

"There is no fear of God left in them. They took out that notification naming Mashal after he had died and framed blasphemy charges against him — knowing that they were not true — just so the charge took the limelight in media," Hamdard said, visibly distressed.

"Fake accounts were created in Mashal's name on social media and [blasphemous] things were posted," Hamdard alleged.

"I haven't slept in four days thinking about the horror. I was Mashal's teacher and I was not able to save him. Those people were his teachers but they condemned him. Is this the way teachers are supposed to be?"

"I would like to apologise to Mashal's parents. I was unable to save him," Hamdard said on the show. "I knew Mashal, and by the looks of it, I seem to be the only one who knew Mashal as the humanist he was."

"He was interested in socialism and sufism; he studied the works of [Karl] Marx. People are trying to paint him as an extremist: he was nothing like that."

"I hardly ever saw him without a book. I often visited his dorm and we had intellectual discussions: he wanted to know more about philosophy."

"I used to call Mashal 'comrade', as he was a friend, a student, a brother a son, to me," Hamdard said.

"If ever I would have seen a single social media post or comment from Mashal that, even for a second, indicated that it would get him in trouble, I would have warned him — but there was no such indication," Hamdard said while discussing the false allegations that led to Mashal's lynching.

Hamdard concluded his interview by publicly resigning from the university.