PESHAWAR - There is no proof of blasphemy against Mashal Khan and his murder was premeditated, a 13-member joint investigation team probing the lynching of Mardan university student has found.

The horrible murder by a mob at Abdul Wali Khan University this April was planned and instigated by a political group - in collaboration with university officials - who perceived his activities as a threat to them, according to the JIT.

The 308-page report, comprising eight pages of JIT findings and 300 pages of the police record, is replete with confessions and accounts of the happenings that led to the brutal killing of the 23-year-old mass communication student, and it also questions the role of the police.

“From the investigations carried out as of yet, none of the charges of blasphemy levelled against Mashal, Abdullah and Zubair [Mashal’s friends] have been proven to be true,” the JIT report read.

Victim’s plea that fell on deaf ears

“A group incited the mob against the student on the pretext of blasphemy,” it stated, adding that the victim had spoken with the hostel warden before he was tortured and then shot dead at the university hostel on April 13.

“Mashal assured the mob [of students] that he was a Muslim, recited Kalma and pleaded them to take him to a hospital,” said the JIT report.

Of the 60 people identified with the help of video clips and other information verified by the Federal Investigation Agency and the Pakistan Forensic Science Agency, 57 have been arrested while three are still at large.

Den of crime & corruption

The report presents the university as a den of corruption, crime and drugs where most of the staff - from the registrar to security officer - has been appointed on the basis of nepotism.

Drug abuse is prevalent. The illegal and criminal activities prevail at the hostels and female students are [sexually] exploited in the university.

The only crime of Mashal and his friends appears to be their commitment and bravery, as they would vociferously challenge the irregularities and criminal activities as well as the student exploitation at the university.

The plotters

The investigation team said that university employees’ union president Ajmal Mayar had confessed that a month before the murder Pakhtoon Students Federation (PSF) head Sabir Mayar and university employee Asad Katlang came to his office and told him that they had to “get rid of Mashal” as he was a “threat to the party”.

However, the report added, the interrogation did not offer clarity into the meaning of Mayar’s remarks. The JIT observed that both Sabir and Asad were at large since the incident took place and it was unclear as to what tactics had exactly been deployed to “get rid of Mashal”.

PSF is a student wing of Awami National Party (ANP), and the JIT report did not say if there was any evidence suggesting that Mayar had been doing it on his own or he was taking orders from some ANP office bearer.

The JIT report said that Khan had been vocal about the rights of students at the university. It also mentioned Mashal’s interview to the Khyber TV, a local Pashto channel, wherein he spoke against activities at the university and the university administration.

In that interview, given days before he was lynched, he also criticised the government for not appointing a vice chancellor – whose signatures are required on the degrees.

Recommendations

The report, which will be submitted to the Supreme Court and the anti-terrorism court, has suggested severe punishments for the university employees and students involved in the crime.

It has also suggested that strict departmental action should be taken against registrar Sher Alam, director administration Peer Asfandyar, chief security officer Inayatullah Afridi, provost Fayaz Ali Shah, chief proctor professor Idrees, director sports professor Farooq and assistant registrar Humyaun for their incompetence.

The JIT noted that people with criminal records had been employed by the university because of their political affiliations. Therefore, it suggested that the record of all employees should be scrutinised.

Raising question at the police role, particularly because the riot police were not used in time to stop the murder and junior officer were not helping their seniors during the situation, the JIT requested that a separate, high-level inquiry be initiated by the police department itself against the officers involved.

Crime and drugs where most of the staff - from the registrar to security officer - has been appointed on the basis of nepotism.

Drug abuse is prevalent. The illegal and criminal activities prevail at the hostels and female students are [sexually] exploited in the university.

The only crime of Mashal and his friends appears to be their commitment and bravery, as they would vociferously challenge the irregularities and criminal activities as well as the student exploitation at the university.