Thursday, April 20, 2017

Mashal Khan murder probe: SC annoyed at KP CM, seeks explanation

The Supreme Court has restrained the chief justice of Peshawar High Court (PHC) from constituting a judicial commission to probe the lynching of Mashal Khan, a student of Abdul Wali Khan University, Mardan, who was killed last week by an angry mob over the allegation of blasphemy.
The court expressed annoyance and sought an explanation from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak why he had asked the chief justice of PHC on the floor of the provincial assembly to constitute a judicial commission when a joint investigation team (JIT) had already been constituted by the provincial police chief to probe the matter.
A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, heard the suo moto case on the killing of Mashal Khan on Wednesday. KP Inspector General Police (IGP) Salahuddin Mehsud, along with other police officials, appeared before the court.
The IGP informed the court that a JIT headed by superintendent of police (SP) and comprising Intelligence Bureau (IB) personnel and three police officials had been formed to probe the incident. He said that 80 percent of the investigation into the mob violence had been completed and a challan will be presented in the court soon.
The additional advocate general of KP informed the court that an initial report of the incident had been submitted. He said two first information reports (FIRs) of the case had been registered in which 28 suspects had been nominated. Out of these, 24 suspects have been arrested. 
During the hearing, the chief justice asked as to why the personnel of intelligence agencies had not been included in the JIT. “Whether representatives of armed forces and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) have been included in the JIT,” the chief justice questioned, adding that this was a sensitive issue and they wanted results. The chief justice directed that representatives of intelligence agencies should be included in the JIT.
Justice Saqib Nisar said that an unfortunate incident had occurred in the country and they did not have the words to describe it. The chief justice directed that the composition of JIT should be examined and progress should be made on priority basis. He said the judiciary has full confidence in the investigative institutions of the country but "this is not a usual incident." 
The chief justice further said that if the JIT found any hurdles, the court would extend its full support, adding that the JIT was backed by the whole nation and the judiciary. The court observed as the JIT has been constituted under the 1997 Act but the question arises as to why the government of KP felt the need for a judicial commission. The chief justice said the judiciary was already burdened with a number of cases and they cannot burden it more.
The court restrained the chief justice of the PHC from constituting a judicial commission till further orders and ruled that the JIT formed by the KP IGP will continue to probe the incident instead. The court directed the provincial police chief to personally supervise the investigation of the case and submit a progress report to the court on weekly basis.
The court also directed that the DPO Mardan and other concerned police officials were not required to appear before it on the next date of hearing, saying if needed, they would be asked. The court, however, directed that AIG (Legal) to appear on behalf of police officials on the next date of hearing.
Meanwhile, the chief justice observed that some confessional statements from suspects in the Mashal murder case were circulating on social media, and directed the KP police to issue a press release in order to make the facts clear to the public. Later, the court adjourned the hearing until April 27.
  Our correspondent adds from Charsadda: The police on Wednesday arrested two more students of the Abdul Wali Khan University, Mardan, in connection with the lynching of Mashal Khan, a student of Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, police sources said.
They said that the two persons had been identified from a fresh video circulated on social media in which a group of students can be seen congratulating each other and taking oath from the mob not to disclose the identity of the person who killed Mashal.
The personnel of Mardan police and intelligence agencies carried out the action in Sardheri area and arrested the two persons named Ishaq Khan and Muhammad Tariq. Ishaq Khan is stated to be a fourth semester student and an activist of Pakhthun Students Federation, AWKUM, while Tariq is a student of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication.

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