Islamabad: Hours after 22-year-old Muhammad Bilal Khan, a blogger and social media activist, was killed, many Pakistanis took to social media to express outrage and demand justice for the young victim.
Bilal Khan was attacked on June 16 in the G-9 area of Islamabad with his uncle Ehtesham, according to Superintendent of Police (SP) Saddar Malik Naeem. Khan was killed while his uncle was severely injured and is hospitalised. The medical report says that Bilal’s body carried around 17 wounds on different parts of body inflicted with a sharp object. A First Information Report (FIR) has been registered in which the family has demanded the “immediate arrest” of the culprits.
As much as the activist’s death is a heartbreaking tragedy for the family, it has also seemingly devastated hundreds of social media users who are demanding justice and a proper investigation sharing tons of photos and videos of the blogger.
Khan who had more than 19,000 followers on Twitter, over 50,000 on YouTube channel, and more than 28,000 on Facebook, was known for his radical Islamist views.
“We demand to arrest the culprits as soon as possible to provide justice to the deceased family” a social media user, Araib Ali Baig, tweeted with the hashtag #Justice4MuhammadBilalKhan.
“Bilal was a young, articulate and bold man. We spoke many times always being on the opposite ends of the spectrum. May God bless his soul and give his family courage” wrote Pakistani human rights activist Jibran Nasir.
Many users who differed with the activist’s radical views also demanded timely action from police saying “we may disagree but silencing is not an option.”
Journalist Bilal Farooqi said: “He definitely didn’t agree with my views and he had every right not to do so. He had yet to learn so much and it’s sad to see this young man’s life cut short.”
We trust police to do justice: Bilal’s brother
Reacting to the groundless arguments and presumptions on social media about the killers of Bilal Khan, his brother Komail Ahmad posted a video on Facebook urging people to let the police do it’s job and refrain from spreading false information. “It’s painful and shocking to see baseless propaganda on the killing of Bilal before his funeral prayers.”
Sharing the family’s official statement, Komail clarified: “Bilal had no personal or family enmity with anyone and we have no one to blame yet.” He added “We trust the Islamabad police but also demand them to properly investigate the case to ensure justice.”
Bilal’s brother and supporters have rejected accusations that linked blogger’s death to some state organisations. “He was never known for criticising the army, he was known for being anti liberal, and sectarian extremist,” journalist Waqas Ahmed said on Twitter.
Director-General Inter Services Public Relations (DG ISPR) Major General Asif Ghafoor also reacted to the online disinformation. “Brutal killing of Muhammad Bilal Khan is condemnable. So is ill intended propaganda to implicate state agencies by few individuals and certain segment of western media. May Allah bless his soul,” he shared on his personal Twitter account.
‘Government must and will investigate’
Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari condemned Khan’s murder and guaranteed that the government will investigate the incident. “Strongly condemn the murder of Bilal Khan. Disagreement and opposition to someone’s views simply cannot be translated into killing the person. Government must and it will investigate and punish the killers — it is our responsibility to keep all our citizens secure under rule of law,” she tweeted.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan also strongly condemn the killing of Bilal Khan and said that “the state will leave no stone unturned to apprehend his killers.”
Condemning the killing, analyst Jan Achakzai said, “We may disagree with each other but brutal killing is unacceptable” and urged the government to “ensure timely action against the killers.”
Meanwhile, Senator Atta Ur Rehman has a resolution against the murder of Bilal Khan and demanded the immediate arrest of the murderers and formation of a committee to investigate the killing.