PESHAWAR - Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Police chief Salahuddin Khan Mehsud Monday said no evidence of blasphemy was found against lynched university student.

A mob murdered journalism student Mashal Khan at Abdul Wali Khan University in the conservative northwestern town of Mardan last week.

The deceased was stripped, beaten and shot before being thrown from the second floor of his hostel for allegedly committing blasphemy.

The Supreme Court has taken suo moto notice of this brutal act while high-ups, including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and KP-ruling PTI chief Imran Khan, vowed to bring the culprits to justice.

"There are no evidence with police against Mashal, his friends Abdullah and Zubair to implicate them in any blasphemous act,” the IGP told the media.

The IGP said Zubair, a friend of Mashal, had recorded his statement and he categorically rejected these allegations.

The top cop said the police would submit the detailed report to the Supreme Court today (Tuesday).

He said the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has also been requested to identify the fake account in the name of Mashal Khan.

 “Police have arrested 22 persons, including six staff members of the university,” he said, adding that before the brutal killing, news was circulated in the university against Mashal to provoke the mob.

He added 16 persons were arrested after their nomination in the first information report (FIR) while six other persons were arrested through various videos.

He said police person who is visible in the video was a DSP who took the Mashal’s body out of the university.  He promised stern action would be taken against culprits.

The IGP said the Maltoon Town DSP recovered Abdullah from an admin room he was locked in to save him from the mob.

He said when the administration and police were searching Mashal to save him from the mob, a gunfire was heard in the hostel 1, some 800 yards away from the administration block.

He informed the media that after the incident, police reached the site and dispersed the mobsters through baton-charge and arrested 59 persons on the spot.

He said there was nothing substantial against Mashal, Adbullah and Zubair.

Survivor records statement

Abdullah said in his statement before a Mardan magistrate that he belonged to a religious family and strongly believed in the religion of Islam and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).  He said he had no affiliation with any political party.

“Mashal Khan was a talented and brilliant student having a kind heart. On April 13, at around 11am, one of my friends, namely Muhammad Abbas, called me on my cellular phone and told me to come to the journalism department. Abbas was a conspirator,” the statement read.

It adds: “Upon his call, I proceeded to the journalism department and saw Mudassir Bashir (the class representative), the actual perpetrator, along with other students who there and then, charged me and Mashal Khan with blasphemy and all of them alleged that we have deviated from the right path along with Zubair.”

He said that in response to that, he had bluntly refused and narrated Kalma Taiba. He said he was later forced to say against Mashal and falsely implicate him in blasphemy allegations but he refused to do so.

He was locked in a bathroom by “teacher Idress, Farooq and Zia Hamdard to save him from the mob”.

He said some students broke the window and tortured him but police rescued him and shifted him to hospital.

He said he heard about the brutal murder of Mashal in hospital. He alleged that university administration was against Mashal for his interview in which he had criticised the administration for mismanagement and loopholes in the system.

Suspect’S statement

Dawn reported on its website that a student arrested in the Mashal Khan lynching case claimed that the university administration asked him to testify against him.

The accused, Wajahat, claimed in the statement given to the police that Mashal Khan had “anti-Islamic views since the start, whereas, Abdullah and Zubair followed him".

"I used to snub Mashal Khan for his discourteous attitude towards Islam and advised him to abstain from such nefarious and devilish designs but he always lent deaf ears to," Wajahat stated.

He admitted that he was part of the mob which lynched the 23-year-old Mardan university student.

Wajahat claimed in his statement that on April 13 he was called to the chairman’s office by class representative Mudassir Bashir, who asked him to testify against Mashal before the university administration.

"Some 15 to 20 people, including university officials were present at the chairman's office.

"The administration had convened the meeting to decide the case of Mashal Khan and Bashir had called me to be a witness regarding the blasphemous ideas of Mashal Khan," said the accused.

He also alleged that the security in-charge of the university, Bilal Baksh, said those that step forward to protect Mashal and his supporters would be dealt with "an iron hand".

Baksh, according to Wajahat, further said that he would kill Mashal.

"Hearing this, the congress turned into a violent mob and rushed towards the hostel," said Wajahat.

In the statement, Wajahat has said that if he had known what the administration was conspiring against Mashal, he would have never come to the university on that day.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 18-Apr-2017 here.