Sri Lankan lynching in Sialkot: prime suspect among 100 arrested

PM Imran Khan calls it a day of shame for Pakistan; Army chief condemns cold-blooded murder

By: News Desk      Published: 03:17 PM, 3 Dec, 2021
Sri Lankan lynching in Sialkot: prime suspect among 100 arrested

Police claimed to have nailed the prime suspect of lynching Sri Lankan manager in Sialkot, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.

According to the police, the prime suspect Farhan Idrees was arrested while a total of 100 persons have been arrested and the provincial police chief is supervising the mission.

Earlier in the day, hundreds of people in Sialkot killed Sri Lankan factory manager Priyantha Kumara alleging the deceased was a ‘blasphemer’.  The government reps told the media that the culprits will be punished for the ‘barbarism’ as the incident damaged Islamic laws and teachings.

The Punjab IG said they were probing the facts and also looking at the police response, whether there was any sort of delay," he said, adding that the incident was "sensitive and unfortunate". The Punjab government spokesperson said that officials were working on obtaining CCTV footage so that the culprits could be identified.

Several gruesome video clips shared on social media showed a mob beating the prone victim while chanting slogans against blasphemy.

Other clips showed his body set ablaze, as well as the overturned wreckage of what was said to be his car. Many in the mob made no attempt to hide their identity and some took selfies in front of the burning corpse. 

Prime Minister Imran Khan took to Twitter to condemn the incident. He vowed to bring to book the culprits and dubbed it ‘a day of shame for Pakistan’.

He tweeted: “The horrific vigilante attack on factory in Sialkot and the burning alive of Sri Lankan manager is a day of shame for Pakistan. I am overseeing the investigations and let there be no mistake all those responsible will be punished with full severity of the law. Arrests are in progress”

Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed condemned the ‘cold-blooded’ murder of Sri Lankan national and vowed to extend all-out support to the civil administration to arrest the culprits.

ISPR quoted the COAS as saying: “The cold-blooded murder of Srilankan Mr Priyantha Kumara by a mob in Sialkot is extremely condemnable and shameful.” 

The army chief said such an extrajudicial vigilantism cannot be condoned at any cost. The military media wing said: “COAS directs all out support to civil administration to arrest perpetrators of this heinous crime and bring them to justice.”

Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar took notice of the incident and summoned a report at the earliest. "I am extremely shocked at the horrific Sialkot incident," Punjab provincial chief minister Usman Buzdar tweeted.

"No one is allowed to take law in their hands. Rest assured, individuals involved in this inhumane act will not be spared!!"

Punjab police said they would investigate "all aspects" of the incident. He said that the regional police officer and the Gujranwala commissioner were at the site of the incident, adding that the IG ordered officials to submit a report within 48 hours.

The Sri Lankan foreign ministry said that it expected Pakistani authorities to "take the required action to investigate and ensure justice".

A report carried by Sri Lankan media organisation quoted foreign ministry spokesperson Sugeeshwara Gunaratna as saying that the Sri Lankan High Commission in Islamabad was in the process of verifying details of the incident from Pakistani authorities.

The Sialkot police chief Armagan Gondal told a foreign news agency that the factory workers accused the victim of desecrating posters bearing the name of Prophet Muhammad (PBUM).

Gujranwala RPO Imran Ahmar told reporters that police were carrying out an "in-depth" investigation and that details would be shared after collecting complete evidence. "Action will be taken as per the law against the individuals involved in the incident," he said, adding that it would be premature to comment on the motive before the investigation.

In a statement issued, Sialkot police said officials had begun investigating the lynching and a case had been registered against unidentified people under sections 431 (mischief by injury to public road, bridge, river or channel), 427 (mischief causing damage amounting to Rs50), 149 (unlawful assembly of people), 147 (rioting), 297 (trespassing of burial places), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence, or giving false information to screen offender), 302 (intentional murder) and Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act.

It added 10 teams had been constituted under the Sialkot district police officer that would work on identifying the culprits through CCTV footage and would also conduct raids to arrest them.

Noted religious figure Maulana Tariq Jameel said that taking the law into one's own hands on the basis of a mere accusation was against the teachings of Islam.

"There is no room for violence and extremism in Islam," he said, calling on religious scholars to play a positive role in preventing extremism in the country.

PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif called the incident "utterly horrific and shocking". 

"Such actions must be condemned and discouraged," he said, adding that those responsible must be held accountable. 

"It is time we followed our beloved Prophet's (PBUH) message of peace, compassion, love and mercy for all in true letter and spirit!"

PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz asked whether this brutality was our identity as well as the future for coming generations. "There is no such thing as a government [in the country]. Who should we turn to?"

The Amnesty International said it was "deeply alarmed by the disturbing lynching and killing of a Sri Lankan factory manager in Sialkot, allegedly due to a blasphemy accusation".