Main accused in Mashal lynching case held

PESHAWAR: The main accused in Mashal Khan murder case, PTI councilor Muhammad Arif, has been taken into custody by the Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa (KP) police.

He was arrested in a raid carried out at Link Road, Mardan, on Thursday.

Mardan DDO Dr Mian Saeed told the media that the raid was conducted on an intelligence tip-off and a special police team was formed for the purpose.

He said the suspect had recently returned from abroad.

Hailing the police action, PTI Chairman Imran Khan shared a message on Twitter, “I want to commend the KP police for succeeding in arresting the main accused in the Mashal Khan murder case, Arif Rangi, a PTI councillor. This is how a professional and depoliticised police force works, in contrast to the politicised police forces of Punjab and Sindh.” An anti-terrorism court in Abbottabad had on February 7 awarded death sentence to one and 25-year prison terms to five others in the Mashal Khan murder case.

The decision, announced by judge Fazale Subhan Khan at Haripur Central Jail, convicted 25 others under, while acquitting 26 of the 57 accused.

“No conclusive evidence is brought on record against them and at the same time they were not found to have played any overt act in the lynching of Mashal Khan whereas though identified in the videos/PFSA report, they could only be seen standing in the mob or making videos therefore they are acquitted of all charges levelled against them and it is directed that they shall be released forthwith if not required in any other case,” the judgement read.

The capital punishment was awarded to prime accused Imran Sultan, while five were convicted and sentenced to life-imprisonment.

The K-P government announced it will appeal against the acquittal of the accused. “The K-P govt will go into an appeal against all those who have been acquitted,” a press release issued by the K-P Home Department said. “We will also file an appeal for extreme punishment of those already awarded [life imprisonment].”

Arif was serving as the PTI tehsil councillor. Police sources say that he had escaped to Turkey, however, investigations have yet to corroborate these claims.

Published in Daily Times, March 9th 2018.