According to the police, Muhammad Bilal Khan, 22, received a call at the end of the afternoon telling him to go to the area known as G-9/4, where several individuals attacked him, dragged him into a wooded area and hacked him to death with a dagger. A shot was also heard. The crime scene found by the police reflected “deep hatred or anger” for the victim, the initial police report said.
Khan’s blogging and videos on religious issues were very popular. He had 16,000 followers on Twitter, 22,000 on Facebook and 48,000 on his YouTube channel. His father said in a video that his son had no personal enemies, adding that “his only fault was that he spoke about the Prophet and his companions.”
“Everything indicates that Bilal Khan was killed in connection with his blogging,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk. “It is crucial that a full investigation should quickly identify the perpetrators and the instigators of his murder. The impunity for such atrocities against those who express their views online cannot continue. All hypotheses must be considered.”
Five well-known bloggers were kidnapped in different parts of Pakistan within a few days of each other in January 2017 and were held for several weeks or even months before being released. One of the five who has since fled the country, Ahmed Waqass Goraya, says the abductions were carried out by the intelligence services with the aim of intimidating online dissidents.
After falling three places, Pakistan is ranked 142nd out of 180 countries in the 2019 World Press Freedom Index which RSF published last month, drawing attention to the “cycle of fear” that has taken hold in many countries.