MARDAN: A large number of activists of religio-political parties and religious organisations staged a rally here on Friday in protest against the conviction of 31 accused in the Mashal Khan lynching case by the Abbotabad antiterrorism court.
Mashal Khan, a student of the Abdul Wali Khan University, Mardan, was lynched by a mob on alleged blasphemy charges in April last year. On Wednesday, the antiterrorism court handed down capital punishment to the prime accused and varying jail terms to 30 others. However, it acquitted 26 accused for lack of evidences against them.
Most of the participants of the rally belonged to the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (Fazl), the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), the Aalmi Majlis Tahaffuz Khatm-i-Nubuwat (AMTKN) and local religious organisations.
The rally, which started from Pakistan Chowk and ended at Katlang Square, was led by former MPA Maulana Amanat Shah Haqqani, Maulana Aqil Shah Ansari and Maulana Qaisir-ud-Din of the JUI-F, JI leaders Saeed Akhtar and Imad Akbar Khan and AMTKN local leaders Qari Ikram-ul-Haq and Mufti Nadeem.
KP govt urged not to challenge acquittals in high court
Some of the participants carried banners inscribed with slogans of “Punishment to blasphemer is death” and statements of condemnation against the court verdict and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government. Around 2,000 to 3,000 people participated in the rally.
Speaking at the end of the rally at Katlang Square, the JUI-F, JI and AMTKN leaders said that the court verdict in the Mashal Khan lynching case had disappointed the Muslim world.
They claimed that the 31 convicts were also innocent like the 26 acquitted accused as there were no strong evidence and proof against them, and hoped that the convicts would be released by the superior courts.
The speakers criticised the decision of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led KP government to challenge the acquittal of the 26 accused in the Peshawar High Court. They announced that if the government moved the PHC in this regard, they would launch an agitation against the government to compel it to take its decision back.
They warned that they would besiege the Chief Minister House in Peshawar and block the entire province if the government did not take up their demands seriously.
The speakers said that they had unanimously decided to provide legal assistance to the acquitted accused if the government challenged their acquittal in the high court.
They recalled that Zia Ullah Hamdard, a professor at journalism and mass communication department of the Abdul Wali Khan University, had in his statement before officials concerned as well as the joint investigation team in the case suggested that police and the university administrations had committed negligence which led to the lynching incident.
They demanded that the authorities concerned register cases against the negligent officials of police and the university administration and said that they should be awarded exemplary punishments.
Published in Dawn, February 10th, 2018
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