Storiya Khan continues legacy of Mashal Khan, ‘the martyr of Knowledge’

Storiya Khan, the resilient sister of Mashal Khan, who was tragically murdered on April 13, 2017, by an angry mob, on the charges of blasphemy, graduated from the State University of New York, “University of Buffalo” with a degree in “Bio-medical Engineering”. 

She also completed her “Student Engagement Ambassador internship” and “Peer mentor-ship”. Finally, she dedicated her degree to her brother. She posted pictures from the graduation ceremony and wrote “I dedicate my degree to Mashal Khan “the Martyr of Knowledge”.

Ziauddin Yousafzai, father of Nobel Peace laureate Malala Yousafzai’s also celebrated and congratulated Storiya Khan Mashal on her achievement on Twitter. He wrote “Her resilient spirit and dedication to education are an inspiration to all. She dedicated her achievement to Mashal Khan and all Afghan girls fighting for their right to education.”

Speaking about his daughter’s achievements, Muhammad Iqbal stated, “After Mashal Khan’s murder, our lives went through many ups and downs. We not only lost our son but our entire life turned upside down. Our business suffered losses as well. However, we did not lose courage and kept moving forward. Today, after six years, we are happy because of Storiya Khan, and all our family members are delighted.”

Following her college graduation, Storiya Khan pursued a scholarship opportunity at the University at Buffalo in New York. Despite facing adversity, she persevered and successfully obtained admission, commencing her educational journey in the United States.

Who was Mashal Khan?

Mashal Khan, a 23-year-old student of the Department of Mass Communication at Abdul Wali Khan University, Mardan, was lynched by a mob, beaten to death, and shot at over allegations of blasphemy on April 13, 2017.

Mashal Khan’s execution took place within the premises of his university and was recorded on a mobile phone which was later transmitted over social media. The horrific incident appalled the nation and sparked a discourse on the misuse of blasphemy laws and abuse of religion in Pakistan.

The mob broke into Mashal Khan’s hostel room and dragged him out. Widely circulated mobile phone footage showed him being beaten, stamped on, and shot. The angry mob continued to attack his body even after his death.

Khan described himself as a humanist and had plastered his room with posters of his political heroes like Che Guevara and Karl Marx. He had also written slogans and scribbled celebrating freedom of speech on the walls.

According to Mashal Khan’s legal team in June 2017, a 13-member joint investigation team (JIT) concluded in its report that the allegations of blasphemy were unfounded. They could find no concrete evidence of online blasphemy. It was used as a pretense to incite a mob against the student. 

JIT discovered that Mashal had expressed his views openly regarding the rights of students within the university. He questioned the appointment of a new vice chancellor on grounds concerning students’ ability to acquire their degrees. The inquiry further revealed unlawful and illicit activities occurring, such as the mistreatment and harassment of female students.

Initially, a total of 61 individuals were accused of participating in the purported wrongdoing. The principal offender, Imran Ali, was convicted for shooting Mashal Khan and was given a death sentence by an anti-terrorism court. Among the others, 57 received a three-year prison term, while four were acquitted of all accusations. Recently, Arif Khan, a member of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party and a councilor, was found guilty in the Mashal Khan murder trial. The court stated that Arif incited and instigated a group of students against the victim.

As the memory of Mashal Khan endures, the graduation of Storiya Khan stands as a symbol of hope and determination. Despite the challenges, the Khan family persists in their pursuit of justice and equal educational prospects for everyone, guaranteeing that Mashal Khan’s legacy will always be honored and treasured.


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