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Mashal lynching case: PTI councillor among two awarded life term, two acquitted

Mashal lynching case: PTI councillor among two awarded life term, two acquitted
March 21, 2019
PESHAWAR (92 News) – ATC 3 Judge Mahmoodul Hassan Khattak on Thursday handed Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf councillor Arif and Asad, another accused, life term for their involvement in the Mashal Khan lynching case. The court acquitted two accused – Sabir Mayar and Izhar alias Joni, giving them the benefit of doubt. Mashal Khan, 23, a student of Mass Communications at Mardan's Abdul Wali Khan University, was beaten and shot to death by an angry mob on April 13, 2017, after he was accused of blasphemy. The lynching took place within the premises of the university and was caught on video which later circulated on social media. The horrific incident shocked the nation and sparked a debate over the misuse of the blasphemy laws in Pakistan. In June 2017, a 13-member joint investigation team concluded in its report that the allegations of blasphemy against Mashal were unfounded and were used as a pretext to incite a mob against the slain student. The JIT report had said that Mashal was murdered in line with a plan allegedly hatched by Sabir Mayar, the president of the Pakhtun Students Federation (PSF) and Ajmal, the president of the employees at AWKU, where Mashal was studying Mass Communication. Mashal had been vocal about the rights of students at the university and even challenged the appointment of a new vice-chancellor (VC) at the university to ensure that students were able to obtain their degrees, which is not possible without the VC's signature, the report had added. The investigation revealed that illegal and criminal activities persisted in the university hostel and female students were also exploited in the university. Days before he was lynched by the mob, Mashal in an interview had spoken against activities at the university and the administration. According to the report, Mayar viewed Mashal's stance against activities on campus to be a threat to the PSF. A total of 61 people suspected of involvement in the lynching ─ the majority of them students and university employees and a tehsil councillor belonging to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) ─ were charged in the first information report. Out of these, 57 were sentenced by a court on February 7, 2018. Case proceedings started on June 21, 2018, once the absconding suspects surrendered themselves to the court of law. Both sides finished their arguments earlier this month, after which the verdict was reserved by court.