An Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) in Haripur is set to announce its verdict in the Mashal Khan lynching case on Wednesday.
Mashal, a student of Mass Communications at the Abdul Wali Khan University, was beaten and shot to death by an angry mob on April 13, 2017, after he was accused of blasphemy. The lynching took place within the premises of the university and was recorded on video that was later circulated on social media.
The brutal incident shocked the nation and sparked a debate over the misuse of the blasphemy laws in Pakistan.
In anticipation of the verdict high-level security arrangements have been made at the court, DawnNews said.
According to DawnNews, no one has been allowed to visit the the prison today due to security reasons.
The verdict was reserved on January 27, after the court concluded the hearing of the case. Nearly 50 witnesses, including Mashal’s father Iqbal Khan, teachers and friends, had recorded their statements in front of the court during the proceedings.
The prosecution had also presented video clips and pictures of Mashal’s lynching in the ATC as evidence that the [suspects] were involved in his murder.
The court completed the hearing of the case in five months and 10 days.
Also read: Why they lynched Mashal Khan
JIT report terms blasphemy allegations as baseless
In June 2017, a 13-member joint investigation team — that was formed to investigate the murder — concluded in its report that the allegations of blasphemy against Mashal were unfounded and were used as a pretext to incite a mob against the slain student.
The JIT report had said that Mashal was murdered in line with a plan allegedly hatched by Sabir Mayar, the president of the Pakhtun Students Federation (PSF) 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.
The case regarding his murder was supposed to be heard in an ATC in Mardan, however, the Peshawar High Court (PHC) transferred it to a court in Haripur Jail on the request of Mashal’s father who feared that his “influential adversaries” would try to sabotage the case proceedings.
The court started hearing the case in September last year after indicting 57 arrested suspects.