By: | Abdul Moiz Malik |
What can you say about a country where those acquitted from a murder case get showered with flower petals and are welcomed with masses chanting slogans citing them as heroes and the deceased as infidels? It’s improbable that a positive development in this country is not being mired, the abhorrent act of few bigots. It’s agonizing, but, that’s what we’ve become as a country.
When the news of the verdict of Mashal Khan came, it was being termed as a positive development. It’s a pity that we have to term a mere verdict as a ‘big development’ because in our country where victims of blasphemy cases seldom get justice, to get convictions in such case can be no less than a development. But, later in the evening, local chapters of Jamat e Islami and Jamiat Ulema e Islam announced that they’ll welcome those acquitted in the case and they did it fittingly. So, what we gained with the ‘unprecedented’ verdict. We squared it the very day. This is the mentality that is perilous for our country; the mentality that celebrates lynching and hailing the culprits as heroes.
The heart wrenching and harrowing death of Mashal Khan jolted the conscience of the nation when he was lynched by an agitated mob on the pretext of blasphemy accusation. Those allegations however turned out to be a bluff and a blatant cover to what actually was a planned murder.
Now with the verdict being announced in the case, the main culprit got a death sentence while others were awarded different terms of imprisonment, it can be termed as a partial respite in a country where blasphemy cases don’t reach their conclusion. However, what is worrisome is that despite the presence of visual evidences and video recording 26 accused were acquitted. In a case where mob lynched a man to death, such number of exonerations doesn’t portray a very satisfying picture. But, it is like the perspective of the glass being half full or half empty. One can see it positively that at least a blasphemy case reached its conclusion. If not, then you can fret over the exonerations of those who celebrated the lynching and vowed to cover it.
The murder was a gruesome incident, and an example should have been set through an exemplary verdict. Whatever the case may be, let’s consider this verdict a step forward in the right direction. The State diligently prosecuted the case and is now considering appealing against the exoneration. It’s commendable.
Now what? Sit down and wait for another similar case to happen?
No. We should now try to curb the mentality that gives birth to such agitated mobs who lynches a person to death on the basis of falsified allegations.
The day after Mashal Khan was lynched, my university teacher said, ‘’Oh! Mashal shouldn’t have said those things. Such discussions agitate people and draw these outcomes’’. It’s a mentality that is plaguing our nation, infesting the minds of our people resulting in such brutal acts of violence. We need to keep a check as to what is being instilled in the mind of our youth.
People who thrive on this hatred to secure their political motives should not be allowed to do it with such impunity. When lynching is being gloated and culprits are presented as Ghazis, the question arises that why this hate is not being checked upon?
We already saw a hand full of hoodlums besieging the capital so much so that the state had to capitulate to meet their demands and they were being led by a vitriolic, hate spewing firebrand cleric who was calling out everyone in the corridors of power and using obscene language to further a very sensitive religious cause. While the state is mum and is being a bystander, this party is increasing its support and it’s evident in the result of two by elections it took part in.
So, why we’re allowing all this? Isn’t there are enough indication that we are slowly growing intolerant as a nation. We’ve become a country where the cover of blasphemy is readily available for people to veil their felonies and play the victim card. By doing this they can garner the support of the belligerent section of society that is out to enforce its interpretation of religion.
We seriously need to ponder over how this menace will affect our future if not curbed. Mashal died, he can’t come back. We can either stick to fake promises of never letting such incident happen again or we can take measures so that no father has to bear the agony that Mashal’s father faced. Also, the need to harbor a tolerant society is imperative where there is no space for those who preach a partisan agenda and who want to use extremism as a ladder to rise to power. The onus is on us to denounce any such vile elements and criticize them without any ifs and buts. If we try to justify lynching under what so ever arguments there will be a day when it’ll become a norm and situation will be so dreadful that we won’t find arguments inn it’s favor. We’ve seen the manifestation of such imposition in the form of a bloody war on terror in which thousands of our people fell prey to those who were out to correct others. It’s time we say ‘no more’ to it.