Student group calls for declaring April 13 as national holiday to honor Mashal Khan

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ISLAMABAD: Students from across Pakistan will hold a march on April 13 to honor Mashal Khan who was killed by his fellow students on university campus on false accusations of blasphemy.

In a message on Monday, Ammar Rashid, a researcher and political activist, said that the march would call for structural reform of what he described as rotten education system that produced Mashal’s killers.

The march will be taken out from Islamabad’s National Press Club to F-6 Markaz on March 13 at 1pm.

Ammar urged students and progressive people to join the march.

According to details shared by Progressive Student Federation on Facebook, the 13 April will be remembered as a black day.

Mashal Khan, a media student, was beaten and mercilessly lynched by the mob and students of his university on April 13, 2017. He was an educated and well-aware student of Abdul Wali Khan University of Mardan.

His “crime” was to raise his voice for student rights and highlighting the problems faced by them in the campus, and to expose publicly the corruptions and mismanagements of university administration.

To smother his voice, administration devised a plan and systematically started a campaign against him for false allegations of blasphemy, that later resulted in the ruthless murder of Mashal Khan by the hands of his own campus fellows and mates.

“We strongly think that Mashal is also the unfortunate victim of our longstanding curriculum that is rotten in content and quality, that spread and advocate fanaticism, narrow mindedness and hatred. What we are reaping now are the fruits of the seeds that were ploughed decades before, that can never produce scholars, thinkers and people who care for humanity, it can only give birth to close-minded, fanatics and a radical mob,” a statement released by the group said.

In this regard, the purpose behind “Mashal March” is to resist and raise voices against the radicalisation of our university campuses, so that no other Mashal Khan or Professor Khalid Hameed has to go through this ghastly insanity, and so we can create a healthy society where we feel no fear for our lives.

The student group has also presented a charter of demands to the government.

– Declare 13th April as a national holiday as Mashal Day.
– Declare the gruesome murders of Mashal and Prof. Khalid Hameed as a national tragedy.
– De-radicalise the curriculum, and devise it based on not only the principles of peace and coexistence but also modern science to improve its quality and content.
– Ensure freedom of expression at campuses.
– Unban all student unions.
– All the discrimination should be eliminated on the name of security with students.
– All ethnic and linguistic discriminations should be eliminated against students.
– Formation of sexual harassment committee based on the law in each campus, and ensure students representation in it.
– At least 5% of the entire GDP should be spent on education.
– Easy accessibility to free internet, library and quality hostel should be ensured.
– The recent hike in fees should be taken back immediately, and ensure no increment for at least five years.