A Peshawar anti-terrorism court jailed two suspects for life in the Mashal Khan lynching case. Two others were acquitted.
ATC judge Mahmoodul Hassan Khattak announced the verdict on Thursday. The verdict was reserved on March 12 and then again on March 16.
One of the men sentenced to life is a PTI tehsil councilor identified as Arif Khan while the other is Asad Katlang. Sabir Mayar and Azhar have been acquitted. Mayar was the president of the Pakhtun Students Federation at Abdul Wali Khan University.
Mashal Khan was a 23-year-old mass communications student at Mardan’s Abdul Wali Khan University who was beaten and shot to death by a mob on April 13, 2017, after being accused of blasphemy.
At least 61 people suspected to be involved in the lynching were charged in the first information report. The main suspect, Imran, was handed a death sentence twice, while 25 people suspects were given 25 years in jail while 25 others were handed four-year sentences. Twenty-six suspects were acquitted in the case.
The ATC was hearing a case pertaining to the four suspects that were absconding from the court during the first trial.
In June 2017, a 13-member joint investigation team concluded that the allegations of blasphemy against Mashal Khan were unfounded and were used as an excuse to incite a mob against him.
We should be aware of our rights
Mashal Khan’s father Iqbal Lala spoke at the International Conference on Media and Conflict in Islamabad in February. He said Pakistan, despite being a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is neglecting basic rights and has been putting them “under its feet”. His son was a strong advocate of student rights.
“How would society be aware of its democratic rights? It is our duty to struggle for democratic rights, speak against violence and injustice and to show the positive side of Pakistan to the world,” he had urged.
He said social media has become a mainstream platform and is very powerful. “The people who do not have the right to participate in electronic media, they express their opinion on social media. However, it should not be used to express hate and bring someone down, but as a platform to improve the society’s well-being,” said Lala.