Verdict on Mashal Khan murder case to be announced today

HARIPUR/SWABI: An anti-terrorism court in Haripur will announce the verdict in the Mashal Khan lynching case today.
High-level security arrangements have been made at the court situated in Haripur prison, where the hearing will be held. Security personnel were also deployed at Mashal’s residence and his grave in Swabi.
The anti-terrorism court started hearing the case in September 2017 after indicting over 50 suspects, including students and staff of Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan (AWKUM), where Mashal was lynched.
The Peshawar High Court had transferred the case from Mardan to ATC Abbottabad, which heard the case in the Haripur jail, on a request of Mashal’s father, who sought the move fearing his “influential adversaries”.
On January 22, Mashal’s father said that he himself was bearing the expenses of the police security for his family and that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has not fulfilled a single promise made to him after the lynching of his son.
Mashal, a journalism student at AWKUM, was killed on April 13 by a violent mob on the pretext of committing blasphemy. However, investigators found no proof of blasphemy and ruled that the murder was politically motivated.

An enquiry report, of the Joint Investigation Team formed over the lynching, revealed in June 2017 that 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 the murder was premeditated as the group was threatened by Mashal’s activities because he would raise his voice against irregularities at AWKUM.

According to the JIT report, the president of university employees, Ajmal Mayar, revealed during investigation that around a month before the incident PSF President Sabir Mayar and an employee of the varsity, Asad Katlang, went to him and said they wanted to remove Mashal 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, but they are on the run since the day of the killing.
Mashal, who was also part of PSF, would openly speak against irregularities in his varsity AWKUM, the report added. He had protested over the issue of university not having a vice chancellor after the previous one retired, as the absence of one would hinder the students from getting their degrees, read the report. “No one from the AWKUM management visited the camp, due to which Mashal called them thieves.”