MARDAN - Parents of the suspects arrested in Mashal murder case on Thursday criticised Awami National Party chief Asfandyar Wali Khan and other leaders for not raising voice for their ‘innocent’ children held in the case.

Mashal Khan, a student of Abdul Wali Khan University, Mardan (AWKUM) was lynched by a mob of fellow students, university employees and outsiders on April 13 for having allegedly committed blasphemy. The police, however, said after initial investigation that the charge could not be substantiated.

The local police earlier said they had identified 49 suspects in the case, out of which, it said, 48 were arrested while one suspect identified as Arif Khan, a local councillor affiliated with the provincial coalition leader Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was still at large. Sources said Arif had fled to Thailand but the police said his whereabouts were still unknown.

However, a couple of days back, sources said the police had arrested three more people, including a lecturer at AWKUM, in the case, adding that the police were also after seven more suspects other than Arif Khan.

The parents of the suspects said the Awami National Party (ANP) chief Asfandyar Wali Khan, provincial chief Haider Hoti and district president Himayatullah Mayar failed to raise voice for their children. They said the police conducted raids on their houses and harassed the family members.

They added that majority of the suspects in the case were affiliated with Pakhtun Student Federation (P.S.F), student wing of the ANP, and their families were affiliated with ANP. They asked the party leadership to raise voice for their ‘innocent’ children.

They added that they wanted justice for Mashal’s family but added that his father himself had said that the police had arrested actors in the case but the directors were still not touched. They alleged that in this critical time Haider Hoti and Himayatullah Mayar, who is also district nazim of Mardan, had left the students and their families alone.

Soon after the incident, AWKUM administration had announced closing the campus for unknown period. However, later people belonging to different political and religious parties and parents’ started demanding reopening of the university to save precious time of the students. In the meanwhile, the local administration conveyed to the provincial government that they would not allow reopening of the university before appointment of vice chancellor and capable administration. The provincial government was quick to appointed Dr Jahanzeb Khalil as pro-vice chancellor of the university.

After his appointment, Dr Jahanzeb made several transfers and adjustments in the administration.

Sources said that the university administration wanted to reopen the university; however the local administration was still reluctant to formally allow them.

On Tuesday, at a high level meeting, Deputy Commissioner Imran Hamid Sheikh, District Police Officer (DPO) Mian Saeed Ahmed, Dr Jahanzeb and other officials and stakeholders decided to reopen the university soon.