Sri Lankan Priyantha s Lynching: Court awards death sentence to six
Trial held in Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat Jail, convicted 9 accused to life, 72 sentenced to 2 years each imprisonment
April 18, 2022 11:39 PM
An anti-terrorism court (ATC) Monday sentenced six accused to death and nine to life imprisonment for the lynching of Sri Lankan citizen Priyantha Kumara in the Sialkot factory last December.
According to the 24News HD TV channel, the court has also verdict two years-long imprisonments to 72 people each who were also involved in the barbarian act. An accused Ali Asghar is awarded a sentence of imprisonment of five years while one of the accused Bilal was acquitted in the case.
The court awarded the death sentence to Taimur, Abdur Rehman, Muhammad Arshad, Ali Hussain, Abu Talha and Muhammad Humair while accused Rohail Amjad, Mohammad Shoaib, Ehtisham Zaib, Imran Riaz, Sajid Amin, Zaigham Mehdi, Ali Hamza, Luqman Haider and Abdus Saboor were awarded life imprisonment.
Priyantha Kumara was a manager in a factory in Sialkot and was lynched by the mob comprising hundreds of his employees alleging him a blasphemer.
Local police have registered a case under the Pakistan Penal Code’s sections 302, 297, 201, 157, 427, 431, and 149 and Sections 7 and 11 of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA).
The ATC Judge Natasha Naseem heard the case in Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat Jail on Monday and announced the verdict.
In the prosecution, 89 accused persons have been made a part of the challan and Priyantha Kumara’s colleagues who tried to save his life during the attack of the mob were also made a part of the investigation.
Senior Special Public Prosecutor Abdul Rauf Wattoo has said that 89 accused had been convicted in the Sri Lankan manager Priyantha Kumara's lynching case.
It is also worth mentioning that last December, the Gujranwala Anti-terrorism court (ATC) had sentenced a man to one-year imprisonment and a fine of Rs10,000 for justifying the killing of a Sri Lankan citizen on social media and inciting religious sentiments.
Priyantha Kumara, a Sri Lankan citizen, general manager of Rajco Industry and Garments Factory, was lynched by a mob at the factory on Dec 3, 2021, on Wazirabad Road in Sialkot.
Convict Muhammad Adnan, 27, of Nizampur, Sialkot, uploaded a video on his YouTube channel of the murder of Priyantha and justified the killing and burning of the body.
On Dec 5, on the request of Assistant Sub-Inspector Mubarak Ali, an FIR was registered against Adnan at Ringpura Police Station for spreading religious hatred and inciting public sentiments.
Pertinent to mention here that soon after the incident, police claimed in an official tweet to have nailed the prime suspect of lynching Sri Lankan manager. 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.
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 of that time Imran Khan took to Twitter to condemn the incident and 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 also 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 of that time Sardar 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.
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.
The PML-N President and sitting Prime Minister 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!"
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.