Student lynched over "blasphemy"

Police in Pakistan's northwestern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province today said there was no concrete evidence yet to register a blasphemy case against Mashal Khan who was lynched by a violent mob, as it arrested 22 people and opened a hate speech probe against two clerics in the case.

"I am shocked and saddened by the senseless display of mob justice that resulted in the murder of a young student, Mashal Khan, at Wali Khan University, Mardan", the premier said.

The murdered student has been identified as Mashal Khan, who was accused of posting blasphemous messages on social media.

Critics say blasphemy laws, which allow the death penalty in some cases, are often misused to oppress minorities.

Blasphemy is an extremely serious accusation in Muslim-majority Pakistan, and at least 65 people have been murdered over such allegations since 1990. Police have arrested 45 people in connection with Khan's death.

Qibla Ayaz, an Islamic scholar and former vice chancellor of Peshawar University, told VOA's Deewa service in a reference to the student's death that sharia, or Islamic law, doesn't allow mob justice.

University administration official Fayaz Ali Shah said that more than 20 police officers were at the scene, but were unable to control the situation because of the high number of students involved.

Rights groups have long criticised Pakistan's colonial-era blasphemy legislation as a vehicle for personal vendettas.

According to a Dawn eyewitness, the violent mob attacked Mashal and the other student, Abdullah, for "promoting the Ahmadi faith on Facebook".

"They could have easily saved his life but they stood away from the mob ..." Additionally, several bloggers vanished for a while this year amid widespread speculation they were kidnapped by government intelligence agencies.

He can be seen motionless and wounded, while men around him could be seen kicking his lifeless body and beating it with wooden planks."The charged students then wanted to burn his body", DIG Shinwari revealed.

This is not the first time someone has been killed over allegations of blasphemy in the country.

Shaer, who runs a small business selling biscuits and chocolates to local retailers, said he had always been a lover of poetry and literature and encouraged his children to express themselves and appreciate the arts.

A local imam had refused to lead the funeral prayers at Khan's funeral on Friday, according to Swabi resident Salman Ahmed. Khan has since been buried.

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