Pakistan: Eight arrested for murder of university student over blasphemy

Islamabad: Pakistani police on Friday arrested eight members of a lynch mob that brutally assaulted two university students — killing one and injuring the other — over alleged blasphemy a day earlier.

Representational image.

Representational image.

An FIR was lodged in Sheikh Maltoon police station in Mardan against 20 suspects, eight of whom were later arrested, Dawn online reported. The suspects were identified through video footage of the assault, and the police have formed three teams to arrest the remaining suspects, the report said.

On Thursday, Abdul Wali Khan University students Mashal and Abdullah were targeted by the violent mob on the campus premises for allegedly "publishing blasphemous content online".

Mashal, who studied journalism at the Abdukl Wali Khan University in Mardan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, was suspected by the mob of running Facebook pages that published blasphemous content, Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police Alam Shinwari said.

Khan was assaulted by a large group of students and appears to have succumbed to a gunshot wound, the DIG was quoted as saying in the Dawn newspaper.

Another student, Abdullah, was injured in the clashes. The report said the two students were also believed to be promoting the Ahmadi faith on Facebook by the mob.

A mob of university students first surrounded Abdullah  and forced him to recite verses from the Quran. Although he repeatedly denied he was an Ahmadi, the students beat him nonetheless. The police, when alerted, reached the varsity and rescued Abdullah, after which the mob set its sights on Khan, who was in the hostel at the time, an eyewitness told the newspaper. Khan was beaten and shot by the mob.

A video footage of the incident showed Khan lying on the ground surrounded by men, who beat him mercilessly with sticks. A student requesting anonymity claimed that several leaders of the university's student bodies were part of the mob. University administration official Fayaz Ali Shah confirmed that the mob had accused Khan of blasphemy before killing him. He said an investigation is underway.

Hostel warden Muhammad Ali claimed that: "Three to four thousand students were approaching. I was alerted that they were approaching, so I closed the gates but they broke in, found Mashal and fired at him and started beating him."

Blasphemy is a hugely sensitive issue in Muslim-majority Pakistan, which introduced the draconian laws in 1985 in a bid to appease rightwing parties. These laws have been often alleged to have been misused to settle personal scores.

Punjab's liberal governor Salman Taseer was killed in 2011 when he termed the regulations "black law". And the minority Ahmadi community in Pakistan has been
repeatedly targeted in sectarian violence in Pakistan for a long time by Islamic extremists, who view them as heretics.

On 7 April, an Ahamdi doctor was shot dead by unidentified men in Punjab province. The incident happened 10 days after Malik Saleem Latif, an advocate from the Ahmadi community who was a cousin of Nobel laureate Abdus Salam, was shot dead by unidentified men in Nankana Sahib.

Last year, at least six Ahmadis were killed because of their faith.

With inputs from IANS

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Updated Date: Apr 14, 2017 20:42:49 IST

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