A Sri Lankan export manager was tortured to death by a mob in Pakistan's Sialkot over allegations of blasphemy. The mob allegedly burnt his body on Friday, December 3. Dawn.com reported that the incident took place in Sialkot's Wazirabad Road. Workers of private factories reportedly attacked a sports equipment factory, killed a Sri Lankan man, and burned his body publicly. The deceased was identified as Priyantha Kumara.
According to Gulf News, a police chief in Sialkot district, Armagan Gondal informed that the factory workers had accused Priyantha, the general manager of Rajko industries, of tearing the poster of Prophet Mohammed and throwing it in the trash. Rajko is the same company that made the cricket jersey and gear for the Pakistan cricket team in T20 World Cup. According to Gondal, the Sri Lankan was lynched inside the factory. Chilling videos of the horrifying incident are doing rounds on the internet.
A spokesperson for the spokesperson for Sialkot police said an investigation into the incident is underway and further details will be shared shortly. Police have assured that the culprits would be brought to justice.
'A day of shame for Pakistan'
In one such video of the disturbing incident, The enraged mob could be heard chanting 'Nara e Taqbeer' and 'Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah.' The latter means 'Here I am at your service, O Messenger of Allah.' Pakistan's Prime Minister, Imran Khan called the horrific incident 'a day of shame for Pakistan.' "All those responsible will be punished with the full severity of the law," he said.
The 'main culprit' is arrested
Punjab IG, during a press conference, noted that officials, after receiving reports of the incident, reached the scene at 11:46 am. He further added that police are working on identifying the culprits in CCTV footage of the incident. Later in the day, Punjab Chief Minister's Focal Person for Digital Media Azhar Mashwani informed that more than 100 people have been arrested in connection with the grave incident including one of the 'main culprits.' However, the identities of those arrested are not known at the moment.
Gondal's district superior, Omar Saeed Malik, said police are looking to establish an exact cause that prompted the mob lynching. The body of the victim is sent to the hospital for an autopsy. On the other hand, the Sri Lankan foreign ministry said it expected Pakistani authorities to take the 'required action to investigate and ensure justice.'
Mob lynching of people accused of blasphemy is a common occurrence in Islamic countries. However, such attacks on foreigners are rare. Blasphemy carries the death penalty in Pakistan. Meanwhile, questions were raised as to how the Sri Lankan could have torn a poster of the Prophet of Islam since idolatry is forbidden in Islam. This means, manifesting of the prophet in any form is prohibited.
A Sialkot resident even wrote in a Facebook post that the victim had thrown a paper in a dustbin that had the Prophet's name on it, and there was no deliberate blasphemy. The incident, however, got blown out of proportion and resulted in the death of the Sri Lankan. The reports were unverified at the moment.