The inspector general of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa police, Salahuddin Khan Mehsud, said on Monday that an initial probe into the brutal lynching of a student at Mardan’s Abdul Wali Khan University had failed to find any evidence of blasphemy.
“Nothing suggests that Mashal, Abdullah, or Zubair committed blasphemy,” he said, referring to the three students accused of committing blasphemy by the mob at the university. While there was no blasphemous content posted prior to last week’s attack, he said, investigating officers had noticed a surge in postings after it. Police have sought the Federal Investigation Agency’s help in investigating the individuals behind the inciting content posted on social media, he added.
Last week, as news of the alleged blasphemy spread, Mashal was brutally tortured, shot and then torched by a mob of his fellow students, who also left classmate Abdullah seriously injured.
According to the inspector-general, Abdullah has denied all allegations in a statement to courts. Local media reported that he had alleged that the university administration was complicit in Mashal’s murder. “Mashal criticized the university administration in an interview with a private Pashto-language channel. After [it aired], on April 13, the university administration tried to force me to submit a statement claiming Mashal had committed blasphemy, but I refused,” said Abdullah.
The injured student also said that the university administration had attempted to incite students and faculty against him, Mashal and Zubair by issuing a notice claiming they were being investigated for blasphemy.
Police chief Mehsud said 22 suspects, including six university officials, had been arrested thus far. He said the university had a longstanding discipline problem. “Our police officials are frequently required to visit the campus to resolve problems,” he told media. He refused to comment on the political affiliation of the students involved in Mashal’s lynching, saying only that an investigation was still underway.