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Wednesday Feb 07 2018

Murder of Mashal should be made a test case, says father of slain student


LONDON: Expressing satisfaction with the verdict, father of slain university student Mashal Khan on Wednesday said his son's murder should be made a test case to bring an end to such incidents.

An anti-terrorism court (ATC) hearing the murder case had awarded the death sentence to one accused, Imran, and life sentences to five others earlier today.

On April 13, 2017, 23-year-old Mashal was lynched and murdered by an angry mob at the Abdul Wali Khan University on the pretext of committing blasphemy. However, investigators found no proof of blasphemy and ruled that the murder was politically motivated.

He added that the accused sentenced to death for his son's murder was rightly punished.

"Imran was rightly sentenced to death," Iqbal Khan told the media. "The court's verdict is aligned with my stance on my son's murder."

He further said that he took a stand against murdering [innocent] citizens over fake news and will continue to struggle for his cause.

"I will continue to struggle, and till now, I support the court’s decision," said Khan.

'Suspects on the run be arrested'

Speaking later on Geo News' show 'Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Sath', Khan said, "All the attackers had come to murder Mashal and everyone there was murdering Mashal, but justice was not fully done by sentencing only one to death....and acquitting 25 others."

He was referring to suspects acquitted by the court over lack of evidence.

Khan demanded that PTI councillor Arif Khan and other suspects on the run be apprehended, adding that he does not know why the police could not arrest them so far.

Asked about his concerns about security of his daughters, he said that his daughters could not go to school and university after the April 13 lynching of his son.

"My daughters used to top in exams, but they could not continue their studies due to threats."

Mashal's father further said that though his son cannot be brought back, he cannot stay quiet.

'Will file appeal'

The family of Mashal Khan has announced that they will file an appeal against the ATC decision to acquit 26 suspects. Speaking to reporters, Mashal’s mother confirmed that an appeal would be filed in the high court.

Mashal’s mother said no one in Pakistan had been killed as mercilessly as her son. “Those released also intended to kill and should have been sentenced,” Mashal’s mother said during a news conference.

She called for all involved in the case to be punished and elements behind the incident to be revealed. Mashal’s mother added that the high court would be approached against the decision.

In an earlier conversation with Geo News, Mashal's mother said that she could not trust any university to send her children to for education. "My daughters are toppers, but their education has been disrupted."

She stated that the KP government has not completed the promises made to her family.

Aimal Khan, the brother of late Mashal, demanded the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police to urgently arrest the absconders.

"I am sad to lose my brother. The void can never be filled," Aimal said, adding that, "Imran Khan promised to name Swabi University after Mashal Khan, he is yet to complete his promise."

Why was Mashal killed?

The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) formed over the lynching case revealed in its report in June 2017 that members of the Pakhtoon Students Federation, the student wing of the Awami National Party, incited the mob to kill Mashal on the pretext of blasphemy. 

The report stated the murder was premeditated as the group was threatened by Mashal's activities because he would raise his voice against irregularities at his university.

According to the JIT report, the president of university employees, Ajmal Mayar, revealed during investigation that around a month before the incident, PSF President Sabir Mayar and an employee of the varsity, Asad Katlang, went to him and said they wanted to remove Mashal from their way as he was a threat to their group. 

The report added that Sabir and Asad did not mention how they wanted to get rid of Mashal, but they are on the run since the day of the killing.

KP govt failed to honour promises made after Mashal Khan’s murder, laments father

Mashal, who was also part of PSF, would openly speak against irregularities in his varsity, the report added.

He had protested over the issue of the university not having a vice chancellor after the previous one retired, as the absence of one would hinder the students from getting their degrees, read the report.

"No one from the AWKUM management visited the camp, due to which Mashal called them thieves."

The verdict

Imran was awarded the death sentence and life sentences amounting to 25 years in jail were announced for Fazal-e-Raziq, Mujeebullah, Ishfaq Khan, Bilal Baksh and Mudassir Bashir.

Twenty-five persons accused who were sentenced to four years, will serve their sentence concurrently. They have been sentenced under Section 11-WW ATA,1997 to three years rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs50,000 or in case of default, further six months imprisonment.

The ATC acquitted 26 suspects for lack of evidence.

Imran was also ordered to pay a fine of Rs100,000 or in case of default to undergo simple imprisonment for six months. The ATC further sentenced him to five years rigorous imprisonment with a fine of Rs50,000 and in case of default, to undergo six months simple imprisonment.

The man had earlier, in front of a judicial magistrate, admitted to shooting Mashal Khan.