Pakistan assures Sri Lanka of justice

DailyTimes  |  Dec 05, 2021

Prime Minister Imran Khan has assured Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa that Pakistan would do justice in the tragic Sialkot mob lynching incident.

A Sri Lankan national, Diyawadanage Don Nandasri Priyantha, who had been working as a manager at a private factory in Sialkot, was tortured to death and his body set on fire by a mob over allegations of blasphemy on Friday.

The PM, in a tweet on Saturday, said he conveyed the nation’s anger and shame to the people of Sri Lanka. “I informed him 100+ people [have been] arrested and assured him they would be prosecuted with the full severity of the law,” the PM added.

Before holding talks with the premier, the Sri Lankan president, as well as Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, expressed confidence that PM Imran Khan would ensure justice in the case. “Sri Lanka trusts that PM Imran Khan and the Government of Pakistan will ensure justice is served,” the president tweeted.

PM Mahinda Rajapaksa, whose government is a key regional ally to Pakistan, took to Twitter and described the development as “shocking”. “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,” he wrote on Twitter.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Minister said he extended his condolences and expressed deep grief during a conversation with his Sri Lankan counterpart, Gamini Lakshman Peiris. “Spoke to my brother FM Gamini Lakshman Peiris of SriLanka and expressed my deep grief and condolences. The Pakistan leadership will ensure all perpetrators will be brought to justice swiftly,” he said.

In an earlier tweet, Qureshi said “such acts have no place in our faith and country”.

Report sent to PM

The Punjab government has sent an initial investigation report of the tragic incident to PM Imran Khan, as authorities confirmed that 118 people, including 13 key suspects, have been arrested. Reports said that two key suspects had “confessed” to their involvement in the torture and killing of the manager.

As per the preliminary report, a dispute had emerged when Priyantha removed some posters from the walls of the factory at 10:28am. The posters were reportedly inscribed with the name of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). Diyawadanage, a Sri Lankan Christian, had been working at Rajco Industries for the last 10 years.

Shortly after, the factory owner reached the spot and resolved the issue. Kumara had apologized for the misunderstanding on his part and the matter was reportedly considered settled and the factory workers had dispersed. However, some workers then incited their colleagues to attack the manager. Within minutes, a mob formed and attacked him within the premises of the industrial unit and killed him.

There were 13 guards in the factory as the brutal attack occurred. None of them tried to rescue the victim or disperse the mob, said the report. Kumara’s body was dragged outside the factory.

Police received a phone call at 11:28am about the incident, officials said. A police party reached the site within 12 minutes. Heavy contingents of police were later dispatched to the crime scene to round up and arrest suspects. Many in the mob made no attempt to hide their identity and some took selfies in front of the burning corpse.

New footage obtained by Dawn.com on Saturday showed that a colleague of the victim tried to protect him from the mob prior to the ghastly incident. Late on Friday, the Sialkot DC and DPO had briefed a meeting of provincial officials about the details of the incident through video link. They claimed the deceased was known to be a strict administrator, adding around 110 suspects had been arrested, while raids were being conducted to apprehend the others. On Saturday, Special Assistant to the Punjab Chief Minister on Information Hasaan Khawar updated the number of arrests to 118, saying that 200 raids had been conducted and that among those detained were 13 primary suspects. In a press conference in Lahore alongside Punjab IGP Rao Sardar Ali Khan, the special assistant said the police had obtained footage from 160 CCTV cameras and additional video and data sources such as mobile data and call records were also being analysed.

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