33 more suspects
arrested in Sialkot case,
Punjab Assembly briefed

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SIALKOT: Police investigation and arrests in murder and lynching incident in Sialkot are continued and Sialkot police on Friday claimed to have arrested 33 more primary suspects involved in the lynching of 49-year-old Sri Lankan factory manager Priyantha Kumara in the city.

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan victim Priyantha Diyawadanage’s widow Nilushi Dissanayaka appeals for justice to her slain and lynched husband by mob in Sialkot, Pakistan.

A mob comprising hundreds of protesters, including the employees of the factory Kumara was the manager of, had tortured him to death on December 3 and later burnt his body.

A first information report was registered against 900 workers of Rajco Industries on the application of Uggoki Station House Officer Armaghan Maqt under sections 302, 297, 201, 427, 431, 157, 149 of the Pakistan Penal Code and 7 and 11WW of the Anti-Terrorism Act.

Investigator Tariq Mahmood, in a statement, said the 33 suspects would be presented in the anti-terrorism court Gujranwala. He said the remand of 52 suspects had already been obtained from the court. As many as 85 suspects have been arrested in connection with the case so far, he added.

Later, the suspects were produced before the anti-terrorism court amid tight security. The judge granted police a 17-day physical remand of the suspects. The suspects will be produced before the court again on January 3, 2022.

The police have officially arrested 52 suspects for their involvement in the Sialkot lynching incident after registering a case against them, provincial minister of Punjab for Law and Parliamentary Affairs Raja Basharat said during an assembly meeting.

Family photo of Sri Lankan victim Priyantha Diyawadanage with wife Nilushi Dissanayaka and children

The minister, while taking the assembly members into confidence over the recent developments in investigations of the lynching of a Sri Lankan factory manager on December 3, said that 182 people had so far been taken into custody during the investigation. He said that 120 suspects are currently under the police’s custody for interrogation, of which 18 are on physical remand while 62 others were released due to lack of evidence against them.

Basharat, in his speech in the House, called for strict penalisation of the culprits of the gruesome murder and assured of submission of a case challan within 30 days. He urged everyone to come up with responsible suggestions, saying that it was a very sensitive issue.

Basharat further said that the prime minister held a debate over this issue in Senate as well as in the National Assembly and condemned this incident vehemently.

Sri Lankan cricketing great Arjuna Ranatunga has has expressed hope that Prime Minister Imran Khan “will be able to teach the few misguided individuals within the Pakistani community to treat everyone with the same respect and dignity that all human beings deserve”.

In an emotional letter to “colleague and friend” Prime Minister Imran Khan in the wake of horrific lynching of Priyantha Diyawadanage in Sialkot, Ranatunga, who has played cricket alongside PM Khan, and has in the past expressed great regard for him, commended the prime minister for “the diligent efforts to bring justice to the barbaric, violent crime committed against Priyantha Diyawadanage”.

Legend Arjuna Ranatunga

“As you have reiterated in the media over the past few days, such violent, vigilante behavior should be condemned vigorously,” Ranatunga wrote.

He followed by saying that it is important for everyone to understand that the violent behaviour was demonstrated by “a small portion of the population” and that “a whole nation should not be judged on the actions of a few, especially considering the longstanding relationship between our two nations”.

The 1996 World Cup winning Sri Lankan captain said that the bond between the two countries has “always been one of strength and solidarity”.

“When Sri Lanka was once in despair, it was Pakistan that supported our soldiers, and in 1996, when other nations refused to come to Sri Lanka to partake in the Cricket World Cup due to the ongoing Civil War, Pakistan along with other Asian nations such as India stood by us and showed your support by coming to Sri Lanka with a collaborative Asian team,” he recalled.

He reminded the premier that as a token of its gratitude for Pakistan’s continued support, “Sri Lankan cricketers have continued to participate in tournaments when other nations have refused to do so due to safety concerns”.

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Ranatunga, in continued appreciation of the prime minister, said: “You have always been unwavering in facing challenges whether it be on the cricket field or the political arena.”

He said that since becoming the prime minister, PM Khan has been “carefully addressing some controversial issues in the country”.

“In the same manner, I hope you will be able to teach the few misguided individuals within the Pakistani community to treat everyone with the same respect and dignity that all human beings deserve,” the former batsman wrote.

In the end, Ranatunga said he would like to once again thank the premier for his “efforts in finding all the individuals guilty of committing this horrendous crime and bringing them to justice”.

“We Sri Lankans, as a nation truly appreciate the sentiments you have expressed regarding the future of the Diyawadanage family, and all the contributions will go a long way in aiding Priyantha’s wife and children,” he said.

“Your continued support, and the actions of Pakistanis will go a long way in helping the family heal from this traumatic experience,” the cricketer concluded.