World Bulletin / News Desk
One student was killed and another injured Thursday by an angry mob at a university campus in northwest Pakistan after being accused of publishing blasphemous content online, police and eyewitnesses said.
The incident occurred at Wali Khan University in Mardan, located some 40 kilometers from Peshawar -- the capital of the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province -- which borders Afghanistan.
Alam Shinwari, the city police chief, told reporters that Mashal Khan, who had been studying mass communications, was surrounded by a large crowd of fellow students who first beat him up with sticks and stones, and later fired guns at him.
The deceased, he added, appeared to have succumbed to a gun wound.
Quoting eyewitnesses, local English daily Dawn reported that the victims were believed to have been promoting the Ahmedi faith -- which many Muslims see as heretical -- on Facebook.
First, it reported, the mob beat and injured a student identified as Abdullah, who was later rescued by the police. Later, the mob moved to the hostel, took Mashal out of his room, and assaulted him until he died.
Fayyaz Ali Shah, a university official, said that the police did reach the scene but were unable to save the student due the large number of angry students.
Blasphemy remains a highly sensitive issue in Pakistan and despite the law, many have been killed by angry mobs without being given a chance to appear before court.
Rights groups say the country’s blasphemy law is often exploited to settle personal scores against religious minorities and should be annulled, while its supporters say it allows courts to deal with cases to avoid mob justice.
In 2014, a Christian couple was publicly lynched by a mob in northeastern Lahore for allegedly making similar insulting remarks about Islam.
There are nearly 600 cases of blasphemy pending in the courts, two-thirds of which involve Muslims.