Protesters gather at a bazaar in Swabi on Sunday. — Dawn
Protesters gather at a bazaar in Swabi on Sunday. — Dawn

SWABI/MARDAN: A large number of men and women on Sunday hit the dusty streets of Zaida town of Swabi on the ‘Soyam’ of Mashal Khan, a young graduate of Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan (AWKUM), who was lynched by a mob on the campus last Thursday.

Protesters from Mashal Khan's village chant slogans against the student's murder.

They chanted slogans such as “Begunah, Begunah (innocent)” “Mashal Khan Begunah” while passing through the narrow streets. Family members, residents, political workers and representatives of civil society groups participated in the march which was taken out from the hujra (guesthouse) of the deceased’s family. Students of Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, also visited Mashal’s hometown.

Floral wreaths were placed on the grave of Mashal, who was a student of Journalism and Mass Communication Department. People thronged the hujra of the bereaved family, offered their condolences and expressed solidarity with them.

It was probably for the first time that a large number of women covering their faces with traditional shawls participated in a mourning procession in the area that turned into a public meeting at the Zaida Chowk.

Mardan police arrest seven more suspects in the case

Addressing the participants, Pakhtunkhwa Ulasi Tehreek president Dr Said Alam Mehsud demanded to conduct the trial of Mashal’s killing incident in the military court. He said that his organisation had examined the case which led to the incident and met the officials and staff of the university. He claimed that initial information and inquiry proved that Mashal was not involved in alleged blasphemy. He said that Mashal had questioned fee structure of AWKUM and showed complete record to the academia and students that the University of Peshawar and other universities were charging lower fee than their varsity.

Mr Mehsud said that Mashal had highlighted genuine problems of the university, including unavailability of the vice-chancellor. He said that Mashal was a brilliant student and had been criticising the elements who were harming the environment of the campus. “These were the reasons for which he was lynched,” he said.

Dr Khadim Hussain, managing director, Baacha Khan Trust Educational Foundation, said that blasphemous material was not found in his hostel room. He added that the victim’s Facebook account was visited by thousands of people and intelligence agencies, but did not retrieve objectionable material.

Meanwhile, Awami National Party provincial president Ameer Haider Khan Hoti, PM’s adviser Amir Muqam, PPP’s spokesperson Farhatullah Babar, its Senator Rubina Khalid and central information secretary Faisal Karim Kundi and MPA Nighat Orakzai also visited Mashal’s house and offered ‘fateha’. They condemned the brutal killing of Mashal.

The PPP delegation condoled with Mashal’s father and family on behalf of former president Asif Ali Zardari, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and the entire party over the brutal and heinous murder of his son. The delegation also included KP PPP president Humayun Khan. They also laid a flower wreath on Mashal’s grave.

On the occasion, Mr Babar said that murder of Mashal was an act of terror in the name of religion. He said that all sections of society, including parliament and other institutions, would have to play their role to stop such heinous crimes from happening in the garb of blasphemy.

In Mardan, the police on Sunday claimed to have arrested seven more suspects in the lynching of Mashal, taking the number of arrested suspects to 20.

DSP Ikhtiraz Khan said that two of the seven suspects who were arrested on Sunday were nominated in the FIR while five others were held on the identification of already detained persons.

It may be recalled that officials of Sheikh Maltoon Town police station had registered FIR against 20 people soon after the incident. Eight suspects were presented in the Anti-Terrorist Court, Mardan, on Saturday. They were remanded in the custody of police for four days.

However, seven suspects were produced in the court of magistrate on special duty on Sunday who gave them on one-day remand to the police, the DSP said. He said that six employees of the university had also been identified through video footages and other sources who, he claimed, were allegedly involved in the incident. He added that three of the employees had been arrested so far.

Some of the arrested suspects were identified as Mohammad Ajmal Mayar, Nasir Afridi, Munsif, Farhan, Wajahat, Imran, Shoaib, Najeeb, Imad Khan, Haneef, Suhrab, Mujeeb and Anees.

He said that they had received the postmortem report which had confirmed some bullet injuries on body of the victim. Inspector General of Police Salahuddin Mehsud was briefed by Mardan DIG Mohammad Alam Shinwari and other officials on the developments during a meeting on Sunday.

Published in Dawn, April 17th, 2017


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