Police in Pakistan detain dozens of people over lynching of Sri Lankan

4 December 2021, 12:44

Pakistan Sri Lanka
Pakistan Sri Lanka. Picture: PA

A mob lynched a factory manager and publicly burned the body in Punjab province.

Police have arrested 13 suspects and detained dozens of others over the lynching of a Sri Lankan employee at a sports equipment factory in eastern Pakistan, officials said.

A mob of hundreds of enraged Muslims descended on the factory in the district of Sialkot in Punjab province on Friday after the Sri Lankan manager was accused of blasphemy.

The mob grabbed Priyantha Kumara, lynched him and publicly burned the body, according to police. Factory workers accused him of desecrating posters bearing the name of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.

Pakistan Sri Lanka
Local residents gather at the scene (Shahid Akram/AP)

Punjab police chief Rao Sardar said on Saturday that investigators arrested prominent suspects after seeing video showing their role in inciting workers to violence, killing the manager and dragging his body outside, and taking selfies with his burning body and proudly admitting what they did.

Mr Sardar, in his initial report to authorities, said the victim had asked the workers to remove all stickers from factory machines before a foreign delegation arrived.

It said the incident started at around at 11am on Friday and three constables reached the factory to control the situation shortly after.

Hassan Khawar, spokesman for the Punjab government, said the provincial police chief was personally overseeing the investigation.

Khurram Shahzad, a police official in Sialkot district, said 123 suspects were detained in raids.

Pakistan Sri Lanka
Police outside the mortuary (Shahid Akram/AP)

The lynching was widely condemned by Pakistan’s military and political leadership, prominent social and religious figures and civil society members.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Sugeeswara Gunaratne said on Friday that Sri Lanka’s embassy in Islamabad was verifying details of the incident with Pakistani authorities.

In the conservative society of Pakistan mere allegations of blasphemy can provoke mob attacks. The country’s blasphemy law carries the death penalty for anyone found guilty.

Friday’s attack came less than a week after a Muslim mob burned a police station and four police posts in north-western Pakistan after officers refused to hand over a mentally unstable man accused of desecrating Islam’s holy book, the Koran. No officers were hurt in the attack in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Pakistan’s government has long been under pressure to change the country’s blasphemy laws, which Islamists strongly resist.

A Punjab governor was shot and killed by his own guard in 2011 after he defended a Christian woman, Aasia Bibi, who was accused of blasphemy.

She was acquitted after spending eight years on death row and left Pakistan for Canada to join her family.

By Press Association

Latest World News

See more Latest World News

Monkeys crash

Don’t approach laboratory monkey missing after crash, residents told

Adele spoke to fans on FaceTime after having to cancel her show.

Tearful Adele FaceTimes fans urging them to visit merchandise store after axing gigs

Regina King

Ian Alexander Jr, only child of award-winning actor Regina King, dies aged 26

Sweden protest

Thousands protest across Europe at vaccine passports

Australia air force craft

Australia delivers water, medicine and telecoms aid to tsunami-hit Tonga

Yemen air strikes damage

Death toll rises after air strike on Yemen prison

Antony Blinken and Sergey Lavrov

US and Russia agree to keep talking amid tensions over Ukraine

California wildfire

Homes evacuated over wildfire in California’s Big Sur

The Mexican president

Mexican president undergoes cardiac procedure

Delta Airlines plane

Man faces charges after ‘exposing buttocks’ on Dublin-New York flight

Monkey containers

Monkeys missing after lab transport truck crashes

Kiribati has been forced to impose a lockdown

Kiribati island, Covid-free during whole pandemic, hit by virus after first flight lands

NYPD officers are seen at the site of a shooting in Harlem

New York police officer fatally shot during domestic disturbance call

Thich Nhat Hanh, centre, arrives for a great chanting ceremony

‘Mindfulness’ monk Thich Nhat Hanh dies aged 95

Brazil Carnival

Rio de Janeiro delays Carnival due to surging Covid cases

Missing Traveler

Laundrie admitted killing Gabby Petito in notebook, FBI says