PTI councillor Arif arrested in Mashal Khan murder case

Mardan DPO said Arif was arrested in an operation after he returned to the country

Ashraf Khaan

MARDAN: The prime accused in the lynching case of Mashal Khan, Mohammad Arif, has been arrested, police said on Thursday. 

Mardan District Police Officer Dr Mian Saeed confirmed the reports of Arif’s arrest, saying the accused was arrested from near Chamtar on Ring Road.

Arif was among the three accused of Mashal’s murder. He was serving as the tehsil councillor of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

Mashal was brutally beaten and shot dead at the Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan over allegations of blasphemy in April 2017. The allegations were later proved to be false by a joint investigation team. 

Hailing the police action, PTI Chairman Imran Khan shared a message on Twitter:

ATC sentence, appeal and acquittal of suspects 

The punishment for the rest of the accused who were arrested was announced by an anti-terrorism court in Haripur on February 7 this year.

According to the verdict, one person was awarded death sentence, five life imprisonment, 25 were jailed for four years each, while 26 were acquitted over lack of evidence.

The 26 suspects released by the court received a 'hero's welcome' in their native towns of Swabi and Mardan after their release.

Later, Mashal’s family challenged their acquittal as did the provincial government.

In an appeal filed with the Peshawar High Court, Mashal’s brother Aimal Khan expressed reservations over the verdict, stating those who have been acquitted can be seen in the video of the incident when Mashal was tortured to death.

On Feb 27, a PHC division bench ordered the release on bail of the 25 accused who had been awarded three to four-year sentences in the case.

The 25 accused had pleaded that there was a provision in the law under which those sentenced to less than five years in jail could be released on bail while their appeal was being heard.