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Women hold Quran Khwani at the grave of Mashal Khan in Swabi on Sunday. —Dawn
Women hold Quran Khwani at the grave of Mashal Khan in Swabi on Sunday. —Dawn

SWABI: Leaders of various political and religious parties and members of civil society here on Sunday unanimously called for giving exemplary punishment to the killers of Mashal Khan and demanded adequate security for his two sisters they could continue their education.

They were speaking at a gathering held to observe Mashal’s chehlum. Mashal, 23, was a journalism student in Abdul Wali Khan University, Mardan, and a resident of Zaida city of Swabi district. He was lynched over alleged blasphemy by a mob on April 13.

The participants paid tribute to the deceased student and vowed to stand firmly with the bereaved family. They said that 53 of the total 57 suspects in the Mashal’s lynching case had already been arrested and the prime suspect, identified as Imran, had confessed to his involvement in the crime.

The participants unanimously demanded that all “actors” and “directors” who played a role in Mashal’s murder should be arrested.

Mohammad Iqbal, Mashal’s father, still in a state of grief and sitting among numerous people seemed composed and welcomed everyone. He was assured by the visitors that he was not alone in his grief, demanding that the court should ensure that the family got justice.

ANP leader Afrasiab Khattak said that whether they belonged to Pakhtun Students Federation or other unions the perpetrators of the crime should be given exemplary punishment. He said that the wrong policies created disturbance in the society.

Pakistan Peoples Party’s former provincial president Rahimdad Khan said that the barbarity committed against Mashal on the varsity campus had shaken the whole country. He called for establishing a platform which could help in tackling such incidents in future and give positive direction to the youth.

Former MNA Bushra Gohar said that in this difficult hour they would not leave Mashal’s father alone. “We would stand side by side with Iqbal Lala in court,” she said. She said that it was a long struggle against extremist mindset and they should counter the dangerous narrative with the slogan of peace.

Dr Said Alam Mehsud of Pakhtunkhwa Ulasi Tehreek said that the mindset that encouraged violence in the name of religion must be curbed to protect the future generation.

Prominent lawyer Latif Afridi said that the state should punish all those who resorted to violence by taking the law into their own hands and failed to leave the issue to the court. He said that it was the responsibility of every individual, rulers and the society to play their due role to make the future of youth violence-free and provide them with an opportunity to get quality education.

QWP’s Salim Khan, former provincial minister Liaquat Shabab, Awami Workers Party president Fanoos Gujjar, district nazim Ameer Rehman also expressed their views on this occasion. Mr Rehman said that the varsity’s mass communication department should be named after Mashal and the government should extend Shuhada package to his parents.

Mashal’s father said: “Let’s make the universities and other educational institutions so peaceful that in future no student falls prey to mob assault like my son.”

Published in Dawn, May 22nd, 2017