1. No evidence to suggest Mashal Khan committed blasphemy: Police

No evidence to suggest Mashal Khan committed blasphemy: Police

Police in Pakistan's northwestern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province today said there was no concrete evidence yet to register a blasphemy case against Mashal Khan who was lynched by a violent mob, as it arrested 22 people and opened a hate speech probe against two clerics in the case.

By: | Peshawar | Published: April 17, 2017 6:18 PM
People demonstrate after the killing Mashal Khan, accused of blasphemy, by a mob at Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan, during a protest in Peshawar. (Reuters)

Police in Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province today said there was no concrete evidence yet to register a blasphemy case against Mashal Khan who was lynched by a violent mob, as it arrested 22 people and opened a hate speech probe against two clerics in the case. “We did not find any concrete evidence under which an investigation or legal action can be launched against Mashal, Abdullah or Zubair,” Inspector General of Police Salahuddin Khan Mehsud told reporters at a press conference here. Mashal, a journalism student at the Khan Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, was stripped, beaten and shot in the head and chest by the mob on Thursday.

The video of the gruesome violence made via mobile phone cameras shows Khan’s disrobed body – covered in blood – being dragged, first in a hallway and then on a road of the campus. The murder shocked the people and triggered protests.

Mehsud said that prior to the murder, investigating officers had not found anything on social media but after the incident, there was a lot of activity. He added that police have sought the help of Federal Investigative Agency (FIA) because there are manufactured, edited pictures and videos on social media sites for which we need an expert opinion of the FIA.

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Mehsud also said that a total of 22 individuals have been arrested in the murder case. “The suspects were identified through closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras. The suspects will be presented before an anti-terrorism court,” he added.

Responding to a question about the association of the arrested suspects with political parties, Mehsud said that the police will only consider the arrested individuals’ suspects and not focus on their political affiliations. “I will ensure that the investigation is impartial,” he said.

“Details of the incident will be submitted to the Supreme Court tomorrow. It will contain all major and minute details of our investigation,” the IGP said.

Meanwhile, police opened a hate speech investigation involving two clerics in Khan’s hometown of Swabi for attempting to disrupt funeral proceedings and instigate hatred against his family.

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A local imam had refused to lead Khan’s funeral prayers on Friday. A technician led the funeral prayer.

University officials had issued a public notification hours before Khan’s murder naming three students being investigated for “blasphemous activities”.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif last week issued a strongly- worded condemnation of the lynching of the student, saying the entire nation should be united in condemning this crime and to promote tolerance and rule of law in the society. “The state will never tolerate those who take the law in their own hands,” he warned.

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