PESHAWAR: A joint investigation team (JIT) on Sunday finalised its report in the lynching of Mashal Khan, absolving him of the charges of committing blasphemy and holding some officials of Mardan Abdul Wali Khan University, several fellow students and outsiders responsible for his killing.

The 13-member JIT declared that during entire investigation no direct or indirect evidence was received to prove commission of blasphemy by Mashal Khan and his two friends.

The JIT claims that after Mashal Khan was fired at by the prime accused Imran Ali, who was also a student of journalism department, he in injured condition recited Kalima and requested hostel warden Ali Nawaz that he was a Muslim and he should be taken to hospital.

However, by that time, the JIT states, a mob headed by Arif (councillor), Wajid Ali alias Malang (lecturer), Shehzad, Shoaib and others entered the hostel and started torturing Mashal by hitting him with sticks and kicking him.

Report accuses varsity officials, students and outsiders of lynching; suggests action against persons responsible for wrongful appointments

The JIT, headed by SP Shafiullah Gandapur, comprises eight police officials and a representative each of Federal Investigation Agency, Military Intelligence, Inter-Services Intelligence, Intelligence Bureau and Special Branch.

The report, which will be submitted to the Supreme Court of Pakistan and the anti-terrorism court, states that a total of 57 suspects including 12 employees of the university have so far been arrested whereas three of the suspects have been absconding including a tehsil councillor named Arif, president of the local chapter of Pakhtun Students Federation (PSF) Sabir Mayar and an employee Asad Katlang.

The JIT states that one of the suspects, Ajmal Mayar, the president of University Employees Association, had told the team during investigation that around a month ago Sabir Mayar and Asad Katlang had come to his office and told him that Mashal had to be removed from their way as he was harmful for the party.

“However, it was not cleared as to how he will be removed. Either he has to be expelled from the university or some other mean has to be adopted,” the team quoted Ajmal Mayar.

The report, a copy of which is available with Dawn, has put forward six recommendations some of which are related to the negligence on part of university administration and police officials. The JIT has also highlighted several appointments made in the university on political grounds and has also claimed that some of the employees are having criminal background.

It has recommended that through federal and provincial agencies the credentials and mode of appointments of all the employees should be verified and action should be taken against responsible persons for wrongful appointments.

The JIT states that several illegalities and immoral activities were taking place in the university hostels including exploitation of girl students, possession of illegal weapons, narcotics etc. It has added that the former provost Ibrar, because of his close ties with former vice-chancellor Ihsan Ali, was involved in misuse of powers and because of him discipline had vanished in hostels as armed outsiders resided there including central accused Arif.

During investigation, the JIT pointed out that several questions emerged about performance of police including delaying the use of anti-riot force; lack of clarity on part of elite force about their duty; lack of proper assistance by junior police officers to their seniors, etc.

The JIT recommended high level inquiry for judging the role of police in the incident. It also blamed the chief security officer of the university, Inayatullah Khan, for negligence.

The report states that Mashal used to point out flaws in the university and few days before his death he had given an interview to a TV channel wherein he had put forward several demands including appointment of vice-chancellor as the post was vacant since March 20.

The investigation revealed that on April 13 students Mudassir Bashir, Wajahat, Abbas, Ali Hussain along with eight to 10 others had gathered near Administration Block and after chalking out a plan they went to journalism department where they called Mashal’s friend Abdullah to come over there on pretext of a presentation. They levelled charges of blasphemy against Abdullah but Prof Ziaullah Hamdard and lecturer Sana Gul controlled the issue to some extent when chief proctor Prof Idress and Prof Farooq also reached there and started hearing the issue from the scratch.

The teachers suggested formation of a committee to probe the allegations of blasphemy over which students suggested that some clerics should also be made part of the committee.

In the meantime, the investigation revealed, Bilal Buksh, a key punch operator in administration who also performed duty of checking students at university’s entrance, reached there and instigated the students. He said whosoever tried to protect a blasphemer his head would be severed, said the report.

Bilal also allegedly raised slogan that beheading was the only punishment for a blasphemer. The JIT believes that the said slogan provided basis for the entire gruesome incident.

The JIT states that the teachers instead of informing the university security or police in time, wasted precious time in negotiating the issue on their own in a bid to hush up the matter, which provided time to the violent students to gather more students by using the name of Islam.

The issue had further deteriorated, the JIT pointed out, when assistant registrar Humayun Khan had on the telephonic directives of registrar Sher Alam issued an office order through which Mashal, Abdullah and Zubair were rusticated from the university without any solid evidence.

Published in Dawn, June 5th, 2017