COLOMBO: The body of Sri Lankan factory manager Priyantha Kumara, who was tortured and set on fire by a mob in Sialkot last week over allegations of blasphemy, was buried in his native village with state honours on Wednesday.
Buddhist clergy performed religious rites at the home of Kumara before police led a procession in which family and friends carried the casket with his charred remains to the cemetery.
The road was decorated with condolence banners and white flags symbolising mourning.
Kumara was assaulted by a mob of hundreds of people and was dragged into the street and set on fire last Friday in Sialkot where he helped run a sports equipment factory. Workers at the factory accused him of desecrating posters bearing the name of the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him).
The victim’s brother, Arunasiri Wasantha Kumara Diyawadana, who also works as a technical director at a garment factory in Pakistan, said factories should have a secure environment. “That was not happening in this particular case,” he said.
He called for an improvement in management practices so any dispute can be resolved before it is too late. He said the two governments should determine “the actual root cause for this, either if it’s a religious matter or an industrial dispute, and accordingly they have to find a solution”.
Widow Nilushi Kumara’s appeal
Mrs. Nilushi Kumara, the widow of Sri Lankan export manager Priyantha Kumara who was brutally massacred in Pakistan on Friday, has appealed to the Pakistani government for justice and compensation over her husband’s killing and urged for the safety of all Sri Lankans on Pakistani soil.
Speaking to Daily Mirror on the eve of receiving her husband’s remains which will be flown in from Lahore on a special flight today, Nilushi said she demanded for answers as to why the mob in Sialkot killed her husband in such an inhumane manner, and she wanted compensation for a stable future for her two sons aged 14 and 9.
Nilushi who met Defence Secretary Kamal Gunaratne yesterday has also urged for the intervention of the Defence authorities to remove the videos and photographs of her husband’s brutal murder, saying it affected the family and her children.
“I have not had the courage to see these videos as it’s my husband’s final moments. I urge everyone to stop sharing these videos and pictures on social media and have sought the intervention of the Defence authorities to remove them from the internet,” Nilushi said.
“My house is presently a funeral home. But people forward these videos to us. It is affecting us.” she added.
Nilushi who now says she must protect the future of her two sons said her husband was the sole breadwinner of the family and since he was employed overseas she had quit her job as a teacher and was busy raising her children. Priyantha Kumara had been employed in Pakistan for the past 11 years and was employed in this factory for the past 9 years.
Nilushi described him as an innocent individual who cared for his employees and colleagues. He respected the Pakistani laws and lived as a peace-loving citizen. He also respected all religious views.
40 new suspects identified
Meanwhile, a total of 40 new suspects have been identified during the investigation into the lynching of Sri Lankan factory manager Diyawadanage Don Nandasri Priyantha in Sialkot last week,
The police said that the suspects were identified with the help of different videos. They said that most of the newly identified suspects were outsiders, including residents of villages near the factory.
They further stated that several raids were conducted after details regarding the suspects surfaced. “The newly identified suspects will be arrested soon,” the police said.
The Sialkot district police officer (DPO), meanwhile, revealed that a prime suspect named Saboor Butt had provoked the factory workers against Priyantha and gathered them for the attack.
A video shows Priyantha and Butt in the factory’s stitching hall which the deceased factory worker had visited right before being lynched.
The DPO said that Saboor Butt is currently in police custody on a physical remand and is being interrogated. The role of other suspects in the incident is also being identified, he added.
So far, 345 workers of Rajco Industries have been arrested and shifted to an unidentified location for interrogation. Raids are being conducted in other districts, including Sialkot, to arrest more workers. Police have presented 34 suspects in the anti-terrorism court after conducting an identity parade.
The Sialkot District Bar Association meanwhile has refused to take up the case of suspects in the case.
Expressing grief over the ghastly incident, the majority in a meeting of the association on Wednesday decided that no lawyer would pursue the case on behalf of the suspects.
Court remands 26 suspects
As of Monday, 26 suspects arrested in connection with the case were remanded to police custody.
The police requested an anti-terrorism court in Gujranwala to grant a 15-day remand of the suspects for interrogation, which the court accepted and ordered the investigation officer to present them on December 12.
So far, more than 135 suspects have been arrested in connection with the Sialkot lynching case.
According to the Punjab police spokesperson, 26 suspects were found to have played a key role in the gruesome murder.
He had earlier said that CM Buzdar and the Punjab inspector-general of police are continuously monitoring the investigation and the process of identification of arrested suspects is continuing.