PESHAWAR  -    An anti-terrorism court in Peshawar yesterday awarded four times life imprisonment to two people including Arif Khan, a PTI councilor, while acquitted two others in Mashal lynching case.

The judgement written by Mehmoodul Hassan Khattak, judge of Anti-Terrorism Court-III of Peshawar, stated that given the witness statements, supporting videos, photos and crime scene recoveries, it was crystal clear that PTI tehsil councillor Arif Khan provoked and instigated a mob of students against Mashal.

The court ruling noted two videos in which Khan was seen torturing Mashal and congratulating his co-accused for committing the murder.

Mashal Khan’s grave continues to be guarded by police, due to fears that it will be defaced by religious hardliners despite his name being cleared of blasphemy.

Arif did this by delivering provocative speeches and even took an active part in his murder by hatching a criminal conspiracy following which unlawful assembly was made for using criminal force and violence, which resulted in the death of Mashal, the verdict added.

The judgement noted that the prosecution had been successful to bring home the charges levelled against him beyond shadow of any reasonable doubt because the conspiracy to commit murder was generally not hatched in open places or within the view or hearing of outsiders, and it could be inferred from the facts and circumstances of the case. “No one should be permitted to take law into hands on the pretext of punishing infidels,” verdict said.

Moreover, the verdict said that Asad Katlang was an active participant of the infuriated mob and illegal assembly, and was clearly spotted kicking and hitting Mashal in various videos so he was also convicted.

With respect to Sabir Mayar and Izharullah, the prosecution was neither able to bring home any cogent and convincing reliable evidence against them, nor they were seen in any video clips hence they were acquitted of all charges against them, the judgement said.

Mashal Khan, 23, a student of Mass Communication at Mardan’s Abdul Wali Khan University, was beaten and shot to death by an angry mob on April 13, 2017, after he was allegedly accused of blasphemy.

The lynching took place on the premises of the university campus 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, the then chief justice took notice and ordered a judicial inquiry. For this purpose, a joint investigation team was formed to investigate the murder. The 13-member JIT 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.

 

B’PUR STUDENT HELD

In a separate case in Bahawalpur, a college student was arrested and charged for stabbing his English professor to death.

Police said the student was angered by a farewell party that the professor was organising, believing it was un-Islamic as women would attend.

In a video of his pre-interrogation released on social media, the student confessed to stabbing his professor Khalid Hameed, saying he “spoke against Islam” and that “it’s a good thing” he died.

He said he had not reported his professor to the authorities because “the law protects blasphemers”.