By Revolutionary Students Front (RSF)
13 April, will be remembered as the black day in the history of subcontinent and Pakistan. 100 years ago col Dyer killed thousands of unarmed innocent peasants at Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar, Punjab. 2 years ago a fanatic mob lynched a bright student, Mashal Khan, at Abul Wali Khan University, Mardan. And the Morning of this year’s 13th April brought the most horrible news of a blast in Quetta targeting the Hazara community that took more than 20 innocent lives.
The calendars and days have nothing to do with the barbarity of human beings, and to be more precise the people responsible for these horrible massacres don’t deserve to be called a human being. They are savages and fanatics either they are British imperialists or a mob full of fundamentalist hatred in the supervision of state-sponsored clerics or neo-fascist leaders or the sectarian terrorists.
But there are some who dare to speak, protest and march against these brutalities. And they are growing in numbers as well especially the youth and particularly students. They are demanding fundamental rights in the campuses, industries, workplaces and on the roads. This year in every larger city of Pakistan including Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad and Hyderabad students marched on the roads raising the banners, placards and posters demanding justice for the Mashal Khan, Paying tribute to the martyrs of Jallianwala Bagh and condemning the attack on Hazara community. Not only this they were well aware of the root causes of such incidents. They demanded the right of Students Union, safe campuses, elimination of reactionary texts from curricula and the secularization of the syllabus. They denounced the imperialism and its aggression. The denounced the government and state-backed terrorism. The speakers particularly opposed the act of PTI government of donating millions of rupees to the Madarsa Haqania that, many believed, is the basic nursery of fundamentalism and terrorism. This Mashal March was the third massive nationwide protest rally led by the progressive students of Pakistan in the last couple of months.
In Lahore, Mashal March Committee, a loose network of different youth and students groups and left-wing activists, called for the Protest march at the Press Club on 13th April. Prior to the march, a protest camp was set-up by the organizers. The camp was filled with the students, particularly females, activists, professors, and workers. They also gathered to remember the martyrs of Jallianwala Bagh massacre on 13th April 1919.
A minute silence was observed in memory of those Hazaras killed in Quetta.
A torch-bearing procession was taken out later around Shimla Pahari Chowk. They chanted slogans like Long Live Revolution!, We are all Mashal Khan!, Stop Killing Hazaras!, We will never forget the Martyrs of Jillianwala Bagh!, No To Religious Fundamentalism! and Government must break all relations with religious fanatic groups.
Earlier speaking on the occasion, Farooq Tariq, spokesperson Awami Workers Party, said that we are here to tell those fanatics who lynched Mashal Khan to death that he is not forgotten and he has become a symbol of resistance, struggle and sacrifice all over the world. He said that religious fanatics are like neo-fascist and they believe in the philosophy of physical elimination of the opponents. Taliban have claimed the responsibility of attack in Quetta, yet the PTI government is assisting them for negotiations between Afghanistan, US and Taliban. Farooq Tariq said that remembering the Jalianwala Bagh martyrs on the occasion of 100 years of the most barbaric incident was an absolute necessity in Lahore. The imperialist partition and the killings of freedom fighters of this region are yet to be avenged, we will avenge that with the victorious socialist revolution in the region.
Imtiaz Alam said that this was the most barbaric act of the British Imperialism against the rising mass movement for independence and civic rights. The rebellious overtones in Punjab were palpable weeks before the day of Baisakhi congregation at Jallianwala, He said that defiant speeches were delivered against the imperialist atrocities, deportations of revolutionaries, price hike and firing on protestors. He said that Col Dyre was bent to crush the rebellious mood, the killing of over a thousand innocent protesters by direct firing exposed the real face of the British colonialists.
Raza Gilani said that we are protesting today not just to seek an apology from the British Imperialism but to educate our youth about the real history of ordinary working people of the Indian subcontinent who sacrificed their lives and to expose the real face of British imperialism.
Those who spoke and recited poetry on the occasion included Dr. Khalid Javed Jan, Irfan Comrade, Sarfraz Safi, Sasha, Takreema, Imran Nafees and others.
Two theatre performances were performed by Laal Hartaal and Azad Fankaar in the memory of Mashal Khan and Jalliawala Bagh.
In Karachi, a large number of students and other people gathered outside the press club to pay their respects to Mashal Khan. They raised slogans for making educational institutions violence-free. The participants marched from the Arts Council of Pakistan to the Karachi Press Club. The speakers said with the Mashal March, they were starting a campaign to voice concerns over the growing extremism in students and collectively say no to the hateful curricula and fundamentalism being taught and propagated in the academic places of the country. They called for upgrading the curricula according to global standards.
In Islamabad, a large number of people belonging to different walks of life marched on roads and later gathered outside the National Press Club. The marchers called for the immediate restoration of student unions, elimination of all forms of discrimination in campuses, and secularising the curriculum to counter the spread of hateful ideologies in schools.
In Hyderabad students of the Sind University marched from old campus to the press club demanding the justice for Mashal Khan and demilitarization of the campuses. They raise the slogans for restoration Students Union and right to the freedom of expression.