- Rally led by Mardan’s Tahaffuz Khatm-e-Nabuwat leader Qari Ikramul Haq included participants from JUI-F and JI
- Protesters chant slogans against Mashal Khan, govt and vow to kill ‘blasphemers’ in future as well
MARDAN: A large number of activists belonging to political and religious parties of Mardan on Friday came out on roads to protest the convictions of 31 suspects in the Mashal Khan murder case.
An anti-terrorism court had convicted 31 out of 57 as it let the 26 go scot-free despite “strong video evidence”.
The rally led by Mardan’s Tahaffuz Khatm-e-Nabuwat leader Qari Ikramul Haq was joined by Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) activists, besides locals, who were chanting pro-blasphemy slogans as they vowed to do what they did to Mashal, in future too.
The protesters gathered at Pakistan Chowk were holding banners inscribed with anti-government and anti-Mashal slogans as they chanted slogans against them.
One of the banners in the rally read: “Mashalyon [Mashal supporters], stop us if you can!”
Advocate Syed Akhtar, a JI leader and one of the counsels of the accused in the Mashal Khan murder case, in his address to the rally said the “entire ummah” stands behind those who have been convicted.
He said the protesters wanted to warn the government that if it goes ahead with appealing the acquittal of the 26 men in court, then “we will block the roads”.
It may be mentioned here that a local religious party leader had earlier said that the acquitted men would also join the rally and address the participants of the protest.
Several men acquitted by the court, including Ajmal Mayar, attended the rally and were given a ‘Ghazi’ welcome.
The JI had also held a gathering in Mardan on Thursday to ‘welcome’ those acquitted by the anti-terrorism court (ATC).
On Wednesday, the JUI-F and JI’s workers had gathered at the Mardan Motorway Interchange and protested against the verdict given by an Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) in the Mashal Khan murder case.
The charged crowd had chanted slogans against the slain student Mashal Khan and vowed to challenge the verdict in the Supreme Court.
On April 13, 2017, Mashal Khan, 23, a student at the Abdul Wali Khan University, Mardan was lynched by a mob, allegedly comprising of his fellow students riled up by allegations of blasphemy against the young man. As details of this bone-chilling event, including a video recording of the event, were reported, a different picture started to emerge— one that had nothing to do with blasphemy.
It is pertinent to note here that the joint investigation team (JIT) tasked by the court with probing the murder of Mashal Khan also found the student had not committed blasphemy. The JIT in its report stated that a group in the university had incited a mob against the 23-year-old on the pretext of blasphemy.