Mashal Khan murder case verdict to be announced shortly

The anti-terrorism court (ATC) hearing the Mashal Khan lynching case will announce its verdict today.
High-level security arrangements have been made at the court, situated inside Haripur jail, with the deployment of 250 police personnel around the prison and sealing off of routes leading to it.
Conjugal visits at the jail have also been cancelled today. Moreover, security personnel have also been deployed at Mashal’s residence and grave in Swabi.
At present, ATC Judge Fazal-e-Subhan has arrived at the prison.
Mashal’s murder case
Mashal, a journalism student at Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan, was killed on April 13, 2017 by a violent mob on the pretext of committing blasphemy. However, investigators found no proof of blasphemy and ruled that the murder was politically motivated.
At present, a total of 58 accused are in custody whereas three are still absconding.
The hearing of the case was initiated in a Mardan court but Mashal’s father, Iqbal Khan, appealed for it to be moved out of his home district citing ‘pressure’ from the accused.
Therefore, on July 27, the Peshawar High Court ordered the case be moved to ATC Abbottabad and shifted the accused to Central Jail Haripur.
On September 19, ATC Abbottabad indicted 57 suspects in the case. Another accused was held recently by the Mardan police last month.
Why was he killed?
The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) formed over the lynching case revealed in its report in June 2017 that members of the Pakhtoon Students Federation, the student wing of the Awami National Party, incited the mob to kill Mashal on the pretext of blasphemy. The report stated the murder was premeditated as the group was threatened by Mashal’s activities because he would raise his voice against irregularities at his university.
According to the JIT report, the president of university employees, Ajmal Mayar, revealed during investigation that around a month before the incident, PSF President Sabir Mayar and an employee of the varsity, Asad Katlang, went to him and said they wanted to remove Mashal from their way as he was a threat to their group. The report added that Sabir and Asad did not mention how they wanted to get rid of Mashal, but they are on the run since the day of the killing.
Mashal, who was also part of PSF, would openly speak against irregularities in his varsity, the report added.
He had protested over the issue of the university not having a vice chancellor after the previous one retired, as the absence of one would hinder the students from getting their degrees, read the report.
“No one from the AWKUM management visited the camp, due to which Mashal called them thieves.”
On January 22 this year, Mashal’s father said that he himself was bearing the expenses of the police security for his family and that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has not fulfilled a single promise made to him after the lynching of his son.