Saturday Apr 15, 2017

Eight charged over murder of Mardan university student


PESHAWAR/MARDAN: Eight university students in Mardan accused in the brutal killing of a fellow student over allegations of blasphemy were charged with murder and terrorism on Saturday, court officials said.

Mashal Khan, a Journalism and Mass Communications student, was stripped, beaten, shot, and thrown from the second floor of his hostel at the Abdul Wali Khan university on Thursday by a large mob.

Police have registered two separate cases against 20 suspects under clauses 427, 297, 302 and 148 of the Pakistan Penal Code and section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act.

The suspects were identified from video footage of the gruesome incident.

So far a total of 12 people have been arrested over the incident and police are hunting for more suspects.

"Eight students were presented before an anti-terrorism court in Mardan over murder and challenging the writ of the state," public prosecutor Rafiullah Khan said.

The court granted police a four-day physical remand of the sent the eight arrested students.

Four others were arrested Saturday, Khan said.

Graphic video footage from the crime scene showed dozens of men outside the hostel kicking and hurling projectiles at a body sprawled on the ground.

Mushtaq Ghani, Information Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, said the government had also requested the Peshawar High Court to conduct a judicial probe into the incident.

Blasphemy is a hugely sensitive charge in Pakistan, where even unproven blasphemy allegations can cause mob lynchings and violence.

At least 65 people have been murdered over blasphemy allegations since 1990.

The independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has urged that all those involved in the murder of Mashal Khan be brought to justice.

"The state's abject failure to protect Mashal Khan's right to life has created great panic and horror among students and academia. Unless all those who played any part in Mashal's brutal murder are brought to justice, such barbarity will only spread," it said.

At his funeral on Friday, Khan's father said he hoped his son's murder would "evoke realisation among people that killing an innocent is a sin".


—With additional reporting by Aftab Ahmed from Peshawar