MARDAN - A number of prominent elders, religious scholars and spiritual figures of the district are trying to broker a deal between Mashal Khan’s father and the students and employees of Abdul Wali Khan University, Mardan (AWKUM), who are behind the bars for alleged involvement in murder of the student, parents of some of the accused told The Nation on the condition of anonymity.

On April 13, a mob of students and AWKUM employees lynched Mashal Khan, a student of the Journalism and Mass Communication Department of the university, after accusing him of having committed blasphemy.

Later, Chief Justice Supreme Court Mian Saqib Nisar took suo motu notice of the incident and on the directives of the apex court; a 13-member joint investigation team was constituted to probe the case. On June 3, the JIT completed its report and submitted the same in the court. However, Awami National Party (ANP), its student wing, Pakhtun Students’ Federation (PSF), religious parties and parents and relatives of the accused allegedly involved in the case had rejected the report and declared it one sided.

The local police had identified sixty suspects in the case through video footages that surfaced on social media after the incident. The police have arrested 57 suspects and three others including PTI tehsil councillor Arif Khan and PSF activists Sabirullah Mayar and Asad Katlang are still at large.

On request of Mashal Khan’s father Muhammad Iqbal, the Peshawar High Court directed for shifting the case from Mardan to Abbottabad for further proceedings due to security reasons.

The anti-terrorism court (ATC) at Abbottabad on Tuesday indicted the 57 suspects and also rejected the bail pleas of seventeen suspects. The court also directed for further hearing of the case in strict security at Central Jail Haripur.

The parents and relatives of the some of the accused said that elders, religious scholars and spiritual figures of Mardan, Swabi and other parts of the province had started struggle to strike a deal among Mashal Khan’s father and families of the accused allegedly.

They added that in this connection, the elders had established two jirgas to arrange a meeting with Iqbal and his relatives. They added that some members of the jirgas reportedly met with relatives of Mashal and his father. However, they added that Iqbal was not ready for compromise in the case.

They added that some members of the jirga were in Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj due to which the compromise process had become slow. They added that they would renew their efforts after the jirga members return from KSA.

Parents of the accused who talked to the Nation claimed that their children were innocent. They said that despite their reservations over the JIT report, no action was taken in this connection. They also alleged that during the investigation, the JIT members tortured the arrested accused. They added that they were hopeful that justice would be done with their children in the case.