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ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Interior on Tuesday asked the government to refer the lynching of Mashal Khan to the military courts instead of holding a judicial inquiry.

Committee members argued that the order for a judicial inquiry was given to delay the matter, and also directed that the video of the attack on Khan, which has been widely circulated on social media, be banned and the names of the suspect be put on the exit control list.

Khan was a student at the Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan who was lynched by a mob on the university premises over allegations of blasphemy.

The mob broke down the door to the university’s dormitories, dragged Khan out of his room and then assaulted and killed him.

Committee chairman Senator Rehman Malik took suo motu notice of the case and directed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police to give a briefing.

Mohammad Alam Shinwari, the deputy inspector general of Mardan police who also submitted a sealed report to the Supreme Court on Tuesday, informed the committee that 32 suspects have been identified and more than 15 arrested since the registration of an FIR under section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act.

He told the committee that the university administration called the police at 12:52pm and the deputy superintendent of police reached the university at 1:05pm and recovered a student, identified as Abdullah, and moved him to a hospital.

“The police were informed that two other students managed to escape, so the DSP went to the administration wing, but at around 2pm it was learnt that the mob found Mashal and be the time the police reached, Mashal was bleeding excessively from two bullets to the chest and was [close to] death.

“We have learnt that the university management was doing an inquiry into the blasphemy issue since 10am. One of the students who gave the university a statement that Mashal was involved in blasphemy has stated that he gave the statement because of pressure from the management,” Mr Shinwari said.

He added: “We have not found any proof that Mashal was involved in blasphemy.

Discussing the university’s notification that stated that it was pursuing an inquiry against three students for blasphemy, Mr Shinwari said the university claimed the notification was issued in error.

He said the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has been contacted for details regarding social media, due to a fake account attributed to Khan was being operated and continued to be after his death.

Senator Mohammad Javed Abbasi said there was a conspiracy behind the murder, because a mob was createdto kill Khan, and while some people were beating him others were making videos and taking selfies.

“There is no need to hold a judicial inquiry as we already know about the incident, so it should be referred to the military courts,” he said.

Senator Tahir Mashhadi also said the case should be tried by the military courts “as the murder was premeditated”.

“The inquiry was nothing but a death warrant, because here people are killed when it is heard that an inquiry about blasphemy is going on.

“People should find the motive for the murder and recover the weapon,” he added.

Senator Shahi Syed added that the offices of the university’s vice chancellor and deputy vice chancellor are vacant, because of which there was no one to control the situation.

Mr Malik said the police should give a detailed reply about what happened to the FIR lodged by the university against Khan, and why the DSP did not have a sufficient force even though the university and the police station share a wall.

Published in Dawn, April 19th, 2017