Pakistan court charges 57 people in mob lynching case of university student Mashal Khan over blasphemy allegations

Pakistani anti-terrorism court on Tuesday indicted 57 people arrested in connection with the brutal murder of a journalism student who was lynched by a vigilante mob in April over blasphemy allegations.

Mashal Khan, 23, a student of the Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan was shot dead and his body desecrated in broad daylight by fellow students on 13 April after being accused of "publishing blasphemous content online".

The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provincial government had ordered a judicial inquiry into the lynching in the university campus after harrowing videos of the mob attack were shared widely on social media and triggered widespread condemnation from civil society, politicians and rights activists across the board.

A joint investigation team submitted its report concluding that blasphemy charges could not be proved against Mashal and that his murder was pre-planned by people who included university employees as well, The Express Tribune reported.

An anti-terrorism court in Haripur indicted 57 people in the Mashal lynching case and a second hearing will take place on Wednesday in which the prosecution and defence will present their arguments.

All those indicted in the case have pleaded not guilty, Dawn newspaper reported.

In April, a vigilante mob, incited by rumours, had attacked Khan, a mass communication student, enrolled in Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan (AWKUM). He later succumbed to his injuries.

In July, the Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Yahya Afridi had ordered the transfer of the murder case from Mardan to an Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) in Haripur jail after Khan's father Iqbal Khan requested the move fearing his "influential adversaries".

Source: Firstpost