Mishal Khan murder case: ATC rejects bail plea of 53 accused

Mishal Khan murder case: ATC rejects bail plea of 53 accused

PESHAWAR - An anti-terrorism court on Monday dismissed bail petitions of as many as 53 suspects in Mashal Khan lynching case.

Judge Fazal Subhan of ATC Abbottabad had earlier reserved the judgment on the applications of 53 suspects seeking their release on bail after hearing arguments of their counsel and public prosecutor.

The court is conducting trail in the case related to the lynching of journalism student Mashal Khan at Central Prison Haripur.

It has so far recorded the testimonies of 39 prosecution witnesses, including two judicial magistrates.

Mashal, 23, a student at Abdul Wali Khan University (AWKU) in Mardan, was beaten and shot to death on April 13 by an unruly mob instigated by rumours that he had committed blasphemy by posting sacrilegious content online.

Earlier on September 19, the court had indicted 66 suspects on murder and terrorism-related charges.

A Joint Investigation Team (JIT), formed to probe Mashal Khan’s lynching incident at AWKU, in its report made startling revelations that the cold-blooded murder of the 23-year-old journalism student was carried out under a well-planned conspiracy while ruling out the victim’s involvement in publishing blasphemous content in June.

Pakhtun Student Federation’s president and an employee of the Abdul Wali Khan University had plotted to eliminate Mashal Khan for his activism at AWKU a month before the lynching incident as his active participation and ideas were becoming a threat for the student federation to sustain its position, revealed the JIT report.

According to probing team’s report, nothing was found to substantiate the blasphemy charges against the slain student and his two other companions. “A group of people instigated the mob against him by accusing him of committing blasphemy,” the JIT report further revealed.

It said the lynching victim was outspoken about irregularities committed by the university administration, more particularly the appointments of incompetent and unqualified persons on political basis, adding that the culture of drugs and bringing weapons were a norm at the university.

The JIT unveiled that various employees of the varsity were holding criminal record, thus they should be subjected to an investigation. It added that out of 57 culprits, 54 had been behind bars while the rest are still on the run.