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In a bizarre move, Abdul Wali Khan University, Mardan (AWKUM) has decided to probe three students for alleged "blasphemous activity", a notification posted to their website said Friday.

Of the three students named in the notification, one was killed and another severely injured after being brutally assaulted by an enraged mob a day earlier.

The university's notification on a probe into 'blasphemous activities' allegedly committed by three students.
The university's notification on a probe into 'blasphemous activities' allegedly committed by three students.

The notification, dated April 13, did not mention any details of the incident or a condemnation of the student's killing, even though the university's provost, Fayyaz Ali Shah, said it had been issued after the lynching.

"I [the assistant registrar] am directed to notify that ... [an] Inquiry Committee has been constituted to probe into the matter of blasphemous activities carried [out] by [three] students of Department of Journalism," the notification read.

"Further, the mentioned students are hereby rusticated and their entry into the premises of the University (all campuses) is banned until further orders," it added.

When asked why the school administration had also rusticated the deceased student, Shah said: "it is a clerical error which is being revised".

Horrific attack

23-year-old AWKUM student Mashal had been killed and another student, Abdullah, seriously injured a day earlier by a vigilante mob for allegedly "publishing blasphemous content online", local police had said Thursday.

No case had been filed against the two students prior to the incident and police had not been investigating the two on blasphemy charges.

WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT. An eyewitness's video of Mashal Khan's lynching.

The mob instead seems to have been incited by rumours circulating among the university's student body.

An eyewitness said the mob had first surrounded Abdullah and forced him to recite verses from the Holy Quran, then proceeded to beat him bloody.

The police, when alerted, reached the site of the incident and rescued Abdullah, after which the mob turned on Mashal, who was in his hostel at the time, the eyewitness said.

Mashal was first shot, then beaten with wooden planks till he succumbed to his injuries. The mob had also wanted to burn his body before police intervened, a senior police official had said.

The incident had occurred within the university premises.

The campus was shut down indefinitely and its hostels vacated to avoid a further escalation of violence.

One of Mashal's teachers later told Reuters that he was a passionate and critical student.

“He was brilliant and inquisitive, always complaining about the political system of the country, but I never heard him saying anything controversial against the religion,” the teacher said.

Funeral prayers for Mashal were offered early Friday in Kalu Khan, Swabi District, where he was laid to rest.

'Police unable to control the situation'

Students had said police was alerted when the incident happened and was present on campus at the time.

A university administration official confirmed that over 20 police officers had arrived at the scene after being summoned for help, but were unable to control the situation because of the number of students involved.

When asked why they didn't intervene, police said there were "too many people" in the mob for them to take on.

However, at least 45 people had been arrested in connection with the incident by Thursday evening.

A First Information Report (FIR) was registered by police on Friday in the Sheikh Maltoon police station against 20 suspects, eight of whom had been arrested.

The suspects were identified through video footage of the incident. Police had formed three teams to arrest the remaining suspects.