NEWS DESK: The verdict of the Mashal Khan lynching case is expected to be announced shortly. An anti-terrorism court (ATC) is hearing the case.
Judges, including ATC judge Fazal-e-Subhan, have reached the Haripur Jail and will announce the verdict shortly.
The fate of as many as 57 arrested suspects and three others, who are absconding, hangs in the balance. The arrested suspects have been shifted from the barracks to the special court set up inside the jail premises.
High-level security arrangements have been made at the court. As many as 250 police personnel have been deployed around the prison while routes leading to the court have been sealed off. Entry of visitors has also been banned.
Meanwhile, security personnel have also been deployed at Mashal’s residence and grave in Swabi, as well as Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan, where he was murdered. While his father is in London, the lynched student’s mother and sisters are staying at their residence in Swabi. Mashal’s brother, Aiman Khan, told Samaa that he is positive about getting justice today.
ATC Judge Fazal-e-Subhan has arrived at the prison and will announce the verdict shortly.
Mashal Khan was a journalism student at Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan. He was killed on April 13, 2017, when a violent mob attacked him on the pretext of committing blasphemy. No proof of blasphemy was found against him. Investigators have ruled that the murder was politically motivated.
Currently, a total of 58 accused are in custody whereas three are still absconding.
On January 30, the decision pertaining to the Mashal Khan murder case had been reserved by the ATC. Statements from 51 witnesses have been recorded.
A report submitted by a 13-member joint investigation team (JIT) investigating the lynching stated that a group in the university incited a mob against the Mardan university student on pretext of blasphemy. It added that no proof was found that Khan had committed blasphemy.
According to the JIT, members of the Pakhtoon Students Federation, the student wing of the Awami National Party, incited the mob to kill Mashal on the pretext of blasphemy. The report stated that it was a premeditated murder and that the group was threatened by Mashal’s activities since he would speak out against irregularities at the university.
The JIT report said the president of university employees, Ajmal Mayar, revealed during investigation that PSF President Sabir Mayar and an employee of the varsity, Asad Katlang, came to him around a month before the incident. According to him, they said that they wanted Mashal removed from their way as he was a threat to their group. The report added that Sabir and Asad did not mention how they wanted to get rid of Mashal. The two have remained at large since the day of the killing.
Mashal’s murder incited fury and anger on social media as pictures and videos of his dead body started doing the rounds on social media.
PTI’s unfulfilled promises
Meanwhile, Mashal’s father Iqbal said on January 22 this year that he himself was bearing the expenses of the police security for his family, adding that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa has not fulfilled a single promise made to him after the lynching of his son.
Story first published: 7th February 2018