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National

September 17, 2017

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Prison trial in Mashal case to begin from 19th

Prison trial in Mashal case to begin from 19th

PESHAWAR: The Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) in Hazara will commence trial in the Mashal Khan lynching case at the Central Prison Haripur on September 19 after it was transferred there from Mardan on the directives of the Peshawar High Court.

As many as 57 suspects in the case have been arrested and four others, including a councillor of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), are absconding. The ATC in Hazara will hear the case for three days every week. The charges will be framed against the accused on September 19 while witnesses will record their statements in the incident on September 20, it was learnt.

Mashal Khan, a journalism department student of the Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan, was lynched by a mob of students, employees and some outsiders on April 13 after allegations of blasphemy were levelled against him. Another student who faced the same charges was also beaten but he was rescued. A joint investigation team formed by the government following the incident cleared Mashal Khan of blasphemy charges.

The ATC in Mardan was hearing the case till July. However, the Peshawar High Court on the request of Mashal Khan’s family shifted the trial to the Central Prison Haripur.

A two-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Ishtiaq Ibrahim transferred the trial to Haripur after Muhammad Iqbal, father of Mashal Khan, requested the court to transfer the case from Mardan to Haripur as he feared that adversaries might create a law and order situation in the area. Most of the suspects belong to Mardan.

The case became high-profile after it was taken up by the social media which obtained and publicised footage of the lynching. The mainstream media also kept the issue alive and sough justice for the family. The Abdul Wali Khan University remained closed for long after the barbaric episode.

Due to security concerns for Mashal Khan’s worried family members, five policemen were provided to guard their house in Zaida in Swabi district. Three other cops were deployed at the grave of Mashal Khan to ensure it isn’t vandalized. Recently sections of the media reported that Mashal Khan’s family had no security. It was also reported that his sisters cannot go to their educational institutions due to lack of security.

The district police officer, Swabi later denied the reports, saying the family was provided adequate security as five policemen were deployed at their home and another three at Mashal Khan’s grave. He added that female constables were also deployed at the family home but they were withdrawn later on the request of the family.

The family has been told that female constables would be provided whenever needed for the security of Mashal’s sisters and other family members.

 

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