Sabir Mayar, a suspect who was declared a proclaimed offender by an anti-terrorism court in the Mashal Khan murder case, surrendered before Mardan police on Monday.

Mayar presented himself before the police today after absconding for nearly 11 months, District Police Officer (DPO) Mian Saeed told DawnNewsTV.

A joint investigation team (JIT) formed to probe Mashal's murder had said in its report that Mayar, who was the president of the Pakhtun Students Federation (PSF), had allegedly planned Mashal's murder over blasphemy allegations in connivance with others.

Examine: Is the Mashal Khan lynching case verdict exemplary or worrisome?

According to DPO Saeed, police had conducted many raids to arrest Mayar, but remained unsuccessful in its attempts. The accused has now been taken into police custody.

With Mayar's surrender, 60 of the 61 suspects nominated in the case have been arrested including Arif Khan, a primary suspect and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) tehsil councillor who was arrested earlier this month.

Only one nominated suspect, Asad Katlang — a university employee — remains to be arrested in the murder case. DPO Saeed said the absconding suspect will be apprehended soon.

Mashal, a student of mass communication at Mardan's Abdul Wali Khan University (AWKU), was lynched by a mob of students, university staff and outsiders on April 13 last year after he was wrongly alleged to have committed blasphemy.

An Abbottabad ATC last month sentenced the man who shot Mashal, Imran Ali, death sentence on two counts. Five other accused were given multiple terms of life imprisonment, and 25 were handed down jail sentences. Twenty-six other accused were acquitted due to lack of evidence.

Later in February, the Peshawar High Court suspended the three-year jail terms handed down to 25 convicts and ordered their release on bail.

'Premeditated plot against Mashal'

A JIT formulated to probe the lynching had found no proof that Mashal had committed blasphemy.

The JIT report had said that Mashal was murdered in line with a plan allegedly hatched by Sabir Mayar and Ajmal, the president of the employees at AWKU, where Mashal was studying Mass Communication.

Mashal had been vocal about the rights of students at the university and even challenged the appointment of a new vice chancellor (VC) at the university to ensure that students were able to obtain their degrees, which is not possible without the VC's signature, the report had added.

Days before he was lynched by the mob, Mashal in an interview to Khyber news channel had spoken against activities at the university and the administration.

The investigation revealed that illegal and criminal activities persisted in the university hostel and female students were also exploited in the university.

According to the report, Mayar viewed Mashal's stance against activities on campus to be a threat to the PSF.

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