Peshawar High Court (PHC) Chief Justice Yahya Afridi on Thursday ordered the transfer of the Mashal Khan murder case from Mardan to an Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) in Haripur jail after Khan's father requested the move fearing "influential adversaries".

A two-judge bench comprising Justice Afridi and Justice Ishtiaq Ibrahim heard Muhammad Iqbal Khan's plea requesting transfer of the case from Mardan amid fears that adversaries may create a law and order situation in the area.

Additional Advocate General Mian Irshad told the court today that although no district in the province faces any security risks, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government would take all security measures necessary to ensure a fair trial. Subsequently, as per Iqbal's wishes, the case the will now be heard by an ATC in Haripur jail.

Iqbal in his petition had also requested the PHC pay his legal fee, and the Supreme Court provide protection to his daughters, who haven’t been to school since Mashal’s murder.

Iqbal's application said that almost 57 accused had been arrested, while others remained in hiding. The trial of such a large number of accused with witnesses and supporters of both sides could result in confrontation between the parties and, thus, a serious law and order situation may arise, he said.

The petition stated that a large number of friends and some religious parties had even taken to the streets demanding the release of the arrested students and others involved.

In April, a vigilante mob, incited by rumours attacked Khan for allegedly "publishing blasphemous content online". The mass communication student was beaten and shot by the mob and succumbed to the injuries he received.

A report compiled by the 13-member joint investigation team probing the lynching stated that a group in Abdul Wali Khan University (AWKU) incited a mob against the student on pretext of blasphemy. It added that no proof was found that Khan had committed blasphemy.

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