ISLAMABAD: Citing threats to his family, the father of Mashal Khan — a university student who was lynched over trumped-up blasphemy charges — asked the Supreme Court on Wednesday to transfer the trial of his son’s murder from Mardan to Islamabad.
“It has become difficult for Mashal’s sisters to pursue their studies due to security concerns,” Advocate Khawaja Azhar Rashid told a three-judge Supreme Court banch, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar.
The counsel was appearing before the court on behalf of Iqbal Khan — Mashal Khan’s father — in connection with suo motu proceedings initiated following the brutal murder of the Abdul Wali Khan University student.
The counsel argued that the video footage available with police was sufficient evidence in the murder case.
CJ wonders how the family would subsist if relocated to Islamabad
Iqbal Khan, who appeared before the court in person, thanked the court for taking suo motu cognisance of his son’s death, but regretted that his family, and indeed the nation, had suffered an irreparable loss.
He deplored that his son was lynched by a mob that kicked and beat the dead body with wooden planks for several hours, but police present at the scene remained ‘silent spectators’.
Referring to the arrests made by police, Mr Khan said only the “actors” had been apprehended, while the real “directors” of his son’s brutal death had been spared.
The chief justice, however, offered solace with the observation that the loss of Mashal Khan was not his personal loss, but a loss for the entire nation. He also noted that the court would have to examine how a case could be transferred from one place to another.
Chief Justice Nisar recalled that earlier the court had to face difficulties while shifting the case of 10-year-old maid Tayyaba — who was tortured by the family of a serving judge — from the trial court to a high court.
Under Section 526 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), the high court can transfer a matter from one trial court to another, or decide the case itself.
The Supreme Court also inquired about ways to ensure the safety of the victim’s sisters, asking which school or college they wished to seek admission in Islamabad.
But at the same time, the court also wondered how the girls would reach their respective education institutions on a daily basis from Mardan and how protection could be provided if they preferred to stay in a hostel in the capital city.
If they wished to reside in Islamabad, then the entire family had to migrate to the capital . For that, one needed a proper income to meet the requirements of living in this expensive city, the chief justice observed.
The court also feared that there was a concerted campaign behind the murder of Mashal Khan and regretted the fact that police and the university administration were on the scene when the mob was lynching the victim.
The court also inquired about the investigation to ascertain criminal negligence on the part of the departments concerned and expressed apprehensions that security agencies were protecting the suspects.
The chief justice also asked whether video footage of the incident was obtained through CCTV footage or via social media.
Meanwhile, in a report, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police told the court that 53 suspects had been arrested, including some university administration officials, of whom 49 were in jail. Four suspects had been sent on remand, while two others had escaped. However, the prime suspect, Imran, had confessed to the crime.
An interim challan against the suspects had also been submitted before the trial court on May 15, police said, adding that video footage had been collected from a number of sources.
Meanwhile, KP Additional Advocate General Waqar Ahmed told the court the provincial government had withdrawn its request to the Peshawar High Court for appointing a judicial commission, adding that video footage of the incident had been sent to the Punjab Forensic Science Laboratory for examination and collection of evidence.
The court has postponed further proceedings for three weeks.
Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2017