Asia - Pacific

Remains of Pakistan mob lynching victim airlifted to Sri Lanka

Priyantha Kumara was beaten to death on blasphemy allegations in northeastern Sialkot city last week

Aamir Latif   | 06.12.2021
Remains of Pakistan mob lynching victim airlifted to Sri Lanka File Photo

KARACHI, Pakistan

The mortal remains of a Sri Lankan national who had been lynched by an angry mob over blasphemy allegations last week were airlifted to his homeland on Monday.

“Remains of Diyawadanage Don Priyantha Kumar killed by a mob in Sialkot, Pakistan was transferred from Lahore to Colombo by Sri Lankan Airlines this afternoon,” the Sri Lankan High Commission in Pakistan tweeted Monday.

Priyantha Kumara, a factory manager, was beaten to death and his body was burnt publicly on Friday last by a mob in Sialkot, a city in the northeastern Punjab province about 200 kilometers (124 miles) southeast of the capital Islamabad.

According to media reports quoting officials, workers of the factory accused Kumara of tearing down posters bearing the name of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.

Footage aired on local broadcaster Geo News showed an ambulance bringing a coffin carrying the body of the slain manager before being received by Pakistanis and Sri Lankan officials, and dispatched to Colombo via a Sri Lankan Airlines plane with state honor.

The coffin was shrouded in a white sheet with yellow garlands and a bouquet of white roses sprawling over it.

Some 131 suspects, including 13 key accused, have been arrested and booked under terrorism charges by the police, whereas raids are continuing to round up the remaining accused, according to a Punjab police spokesman.

A total of 900 accused have been booked for their alleged involvement in the lynching.

The attack was the latest in a series of similar incidents in recent years, coming less than a week after a mob set a police station on fire in northwestern Pakistan because officials refused to hand over a mentally unstable man accused of blasphemy.

A highly sensitive issue in the Muslim-majority country, blasphemy charges carry the death penalty in Pakistan, but many people have been killed by mobs without their cases ever making it to court.

Rights groups believe Pakistan’s blasphemy law is often used to settle personal scores against religious minorities, while its supporters contend that the law prevents vigilante action.

Currently, over 600 blasphemy cases are pending in Pakistani courts, more than 400 of which involve Muslims, according to official records.

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