Sri Lankan worker killed, burnt over blasphemy allegations

ISLAMABAD: An angry mob Friday lynched a Sri Lankan national in Pakistan’s northeastern city of Sialkot and burned his body over alleged blasphemy, officials said.

“A mob has killed the factory manager and burned his body, but we do not have information about the reason behind this incident,” an official at the Sialkot district police station told Anadolu Agency over the phone.

High officials, including the regional police chief, are on the spot and the situation is now under control, he added.

According to media reports quoting officials, workers of the factory on Wazirabad road, Sialkot, had accused the Sri Lankan national, Priyantha Kumara, of desecrating posters bearing the name of Prophet Muhammad.

Soon after the incident, several video clips also got viral on social media that showed the mob chanting slogans of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) while burning the body.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Twitter: “The horrific vigilante attack on factory in Sialkot & the burning alive of Sri Lankan manager is a day of shame for Pakistan. I am overseeing the investigations & let there be no mistake all those responsible will be punished with full severity of the law. Arrests are in progress.”

In April this year, the Pakistani government had declared the TLP as a “proscribed” organization for its alleged involvement in violent protests across the country.

However, last month, the authorities lifted the ban following an agreement between the government and the far-right political party that brought an end to violent nationwide protests calling for the expulsion of the French ambassador over blasphemous caricatures.

The provincial chief minister of Punjab, Usman Buzdar, said he was “extremely shocked” at the incident.

“I am extremely shocked at the horrific Sialkot incident. I have instructed IG (inspector-general of) Police to thoroughly investigate it. No one is allowed to take law in their hands. Rest assured, individuals involved in this inhumane act will not be spared,” Buzdar tweeted.

The country’s Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari also condemned the incident.

“Horrific & condemnable act of the mob attack on factory & murder of Sri Lankan manager in Sialkot. Mob violence cannot be acceptable under any circumstance as state has laws to deal with all offenses. Punjab govt’s action must & will be firm and unambiguous,” Mazari tweeted.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International South Asia also expressed deep concern over the incident and called for an immediate and impartial investigation.

“Amnesty International is deeply alarmed by the disturbing lynching and killing of a Sri Lankan factory manager in Sialkot, allegedly due to a blasphemy accusation,” it said on Twitter.–Anadolu

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