Pakistan: Journalism student ‘Mashal Yousafzai’ killed in Abdul Wali Khan University for alleged blasphemy

Mashal YousafzaiMARDAN: A student of Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan was killed and another injured by a vigilante mob for allegedly publishing blasphemous content online, local police said Thursday.

At least 15 people were arrested in connection with the incident, which occurred within the university premises. The campus was shut down until further notice. The hostels were vacated and a search for the remaining culprits was ongoing, police said.

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Mardan’s Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police Alam Shinwari said the killed student was accused of running Facebook pages which allegedly published blasphemous content.

He was assaulted by a large group of students and appears to have succumbed to a gunshot wound, the DIG said.

‘Beaten and bloody’: eyewitnesses recount horror

An eyewitness at the scene of the incident said Mashal and Abdullah, two Mass Communication students, were believed to be promoting the Ahmadi faith on Facebook.

A view of Mashal's hostel room. ─ Photo by author
A view of Mashal’s hostel room. ─ Photo by author

A mob of university students first surrounded Abdullah and forced him to recite verses from the Holy Quran. Although he repeatedly denied the accusation that he was an Ahmadi, the students beat him nonetheless.

The police, when alerted, reached the site of the attack and rescued Abdullah, after which the mob set its sights on Mashal, who was in the hostel at the time, the eyewitness said.

Mashal was beaten and shot by the mob, succumbing to his injuries.

Mashal

Video footage of the incident shows Mashal lying on the floor surrounded by men. The student is not moving and his body bears marks of severe torture. Men can be seen kicking his lifeless body and beating it with sticks. Towards the end of the video, he is pulled from his clothes by an unidentified man.

WARNING: Extreme graphic content

A student requesting anonymity claimed that several leaders of the university’s student bodies were part of the mob.

‘Police unable to control mob’

University administration official Fayaz Ali Shah confirmed that the mob of students had accused Mashal of blasphemy before killing him.

Over 20 officers arrived at the scene but because there were so many students, the police were unable to control the situation, he said, adding that 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.”

Students said police had been alerted of the incident and were present on campus at the time. When asked why they didn’t intervene, the police said there were too many people in the mob for them to take on. -DN

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THE PASHTUN TIMES

 

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