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Pakistani Investigators Say University Student's Lynching Was Premeditated

During a rally in Karachi, people hold portraits of Pakistani student Mashal Khan, who was killed by a mob for alleged blasphemy at Abdul Wali Khan University in April.

Pakistani investigators say the mob lynching of a university student accused of blasphemy was premeditated.

Mashal Khan, 23, a journalism student, was killed by a mob at the Abdul Wali Khan University in the northern city of Mardan on April 13. He was accused of posting "blasphemous content" on social media.

A report issued by the Joint Investigation Team on June 4 said Khan's lynching was organized by students a month prior to his killing.

The 13-member committee also concluded that there was no evidence that Khan committed blasphemy.

The report said Khan was targeted by students who saw him as a political rival in the Pakhtoon Students Federation (PSF), the student wing of the Awami National Party.

Khan, who was a member of the PSF, was seen as a rising star, the report said.

The report said some faculty members investigating the killing pressured students to support the blasphemy allegations because of Khan's past criticism of the university.

Khan had given interviews with local media in which he complained about rising fees and poor performance among faculty staff.

The report said 57 people, including 12 university employees, would face charges in the case.

The report is expected to be submitted to the Supreme Court during the coming week.

Video footage of the attack showed Khan lying on the floor surrounded by men and being beaten with wooden planks.

Blasphemy is punishable by death in Pakistan and the mere accusation of insulting Islam can spark deadly mob violence. Blasphemy allegations are often used to settle scores, say human rights groups.

It is a highly sensitive issue in the Muslim-majority country, where at least 65 people have been killed over blasphemy allegations since 1990, according to the Center for Research and Security Studies.

The government has recently vowed to combat the sharing of blasphemous content on social media.

With reporting by AP and The Express Tribune
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