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“A day of shame for Pakistan”, 118 arrested, Sri Lanka condemns

ISLAMABAD: Regretting the tragic incident of lynching a Sri Lankan national in Sialkot on Friday, Prime Minister Imran Khan genuinely termed the day as national shame for Pakistan.

Victim Priyantha Kumara

President Arif Alvi, Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa condemned the “shameful” act in strongest words. 

President Dr Arif Alvi said the Sialkot incident was definitely very sad and shameful, and not religious in any way whatsoever. He was referring to a mob attack on a factory in Sialkot and the burning alive of a Sri Lankan factory manager earlier in the day.

Victim Priyantha Kumara burning body

Responding to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s tweet on the issue, the president appreciated the prompt action taken by the prime minister and the government of Pakistan. “The Sialkot incident is definitely very sad & shameful, and not religious in any way whatsoever,” he commented. He said that Islam was a religion that established cannons of deliberative justice rather than mob lynching.

Main accused Usman, Farhan Idrees and Talha in police custody

Prime Minister Imran Khan Friday said that the “horrific vigilante attack” on a factory in Sialkot and the burning alive of Sri Lankan manager was a “day of shame for Pakistan.”

On Twitter, the prime minister said that he was overseeing the investigations and all those responsible would be dealt with the severity of the law.

A colleague can be seen trying to save victim Priyantha Kumara

“I am overseeing the investigations & let there be no mistake all those responsible will be punished with full severity of the law,” he said. The prime minister said that the arrests were already in progress.

According to a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Directorate, “The cold-blooded murder of Srilankan citizen by a mob at Sialkot is extremely condemnable and shameful. “Such extra judicial vigilantism cannot be condoned at any cost,” the ISPR said. Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa directed all out support to civil administration to arrest perpetrators of this heinous crime and bring them to justice, the ISPR said.

The incident took place on Wazirabad Road in Sialkot, where the workers of private factories attacked the export manager of a factory — who was a resident of the city — and burnt his body after killing him.

Videos shared on social media showed hundreds of men and young boys gathered at the site, with groups of them chanting slogans. A local police officer said the factory workers had accused the victim of desecrating posters bearing the name of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). The manager was lynched by the mob inside the factory, he said, citing initial information. DPO Malik said the victim’s remains were sent to a hospital for an autopsy.

118 persons arrested

Punjab Inspector-General Rao Sardar Ali Khan said Saturday that police have arrested 118 men, including 13 prime suspects, for murdering and burning the body of a Sri Lankan national.

At a press conference in Lahore, IG Punjab and provincial government spokesperson Hassan Khawar briefed media on the investigations into the Sialkot incident.

The IG said that during the last 24 hours, police have conducted raids in over 200 areas of the city and arrested nearly 120 men.

The spokesperson of Punjab revealed that the police have obtained CCTV footage of the attack from 160 cameras installed at the site.

Arrested persons in lock up of police station

He said that the post-mortem of the victim has been conducted and Prime Minister Imran Khan and CM Usman Buzdar are overseeing the investigations themselves.

Detailing the sequence of the events that led to the incident, IG Rao said that the DPO of Sialkot reached the site 17 minutes after the first complaint.

The security personnel on Saturday have arrested second prime suspect who incited the mob to torture Sri Lankan manager Priyantha Kumara to death in Sialkot over alleged blasphemy.

According to details, suspect Talha has been shifted to some unknown place for interrogation. So far, police officers have arrested over 100 people with the help of CCTV for killing the manager.

Preliminary report forwarded to PM

File picture of victim Priyantha Kumara with his wife and son

The Punjab government has forwarded a preliminary report into the lynching of a Sri Lankan factory manager in Sialkot to Prime Minister Imran Khan, claiming that the police have detained 112 people including the prime suspects.

The report which was sent to the prime minister on Saturday also said that the police have also arrested the people who instigated protesters against the factory manager over the alleged blasphemy act.

The reported the arrested people have been shifted to some unknown places for further investigation.

The report also cited police lapse saying presence of a low number of cops prevented them from saving the Sri Lankan.

Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat has also said that the government was also looking at this incident from the administrative point of view.

LAHORE: Special Representative for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Hafiz Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi speaks to the media alongside Special Assistant to the Punjab Chief Minister on Information Hassan Khawar and Punjab IG Rao Sardar Ali Khan.

Earlier, the post mortem of the Sri Lankan manager who was mercilessly lynched and burnt by his factory workers in Sialkot was completed and the hospital returned the body of the foreigner to the police.

Police after collecting evidence, sent it to the forensic laboratory. The arrests are also being made with the help of CCTV footage and mobile phones recordings. The police will also conduct the forensic analysis of the CCTV footages for arresting perpetrators of the ghastly act. 

Sri Lankan Parliament, PM

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has expressed shock over the lynching of a Lankan factory manager by a mob in Pakistan, urging his counterpart Imran Khan to bring all those involved in this brutal attack to justice.

In a tweet uploaded on Saturday, the Sri Lankan prime minister wrote: Shocking to see the brutal and fatal attack on Priyantha Diyawadana by extremist mobs in Pakistan. My heart goes out to his wife and family. SriLanka and her people are confident that PM Imran Khan will keep to his commitment to bring all those involved to justice.

The Sri Lankan parliament also condemned the lynching during its session on Saturday, according to a report by Sri Lankan media organisation News 1st.

One colleague is trying to save Priyantha Kumara
People dragging the body of Priyantha Kumara

“The government wishes to express its condolence over the death of Priyantha Kumara Diyawadana, a Sri Lankan University degree holder and a manager at a factory in Sialkot (Pakistan), who was the victim of an attack carried out by extremists regardless of territorial boundaries. Further, the government strongly condemns the inhumane attack that took the world by surprise,” minister Dinesh Gunawardena said.

The foreign ministry of Sri Lanka has also demanded an investigation into the matter while Amnesty International stressed an independent investigation. 

The Sri Lankan foreign ministry said it was in the process of verifying the incident with Pakistani authorities, adding that it expected Islamabad to take “required action” to investigate the matter and ensure justice.
“The Sri Lanka High Commission in Islamabad is in the process of verifying the details of the incident from the Pakistan authorities,” it said in a tweet.
“Sri Lanka expects that the Pakistan authorities will take required action to investigate and ensure justice. We are awaiting results of further investigations and working with all parties concerned to bring the remains home.”