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Mob lynches man to death, sets body on fire over 'blasphemy' in Sialkot

Updated 03 Dec, 2021
The incident took place on Wazirabad Road in Sialkot, where reportedly the workers of private factories attacked the export manager of a factory and burnt his body after killing him. Screen grab
The incident took place on Wazirabad Road in Sialkot, where reportedly the workers of private factories attacked the export manager of a factory and burnt his body after killing him. Screen grab

A mob in Sialkot on Friday tortured a man to death before burning his body over allegations of blasphemy and blocked the Wazirabad Road, prompting the authorities to send a heavy contingent of police to the area to bring the situation under control.

The video of the incident showing hundreds of people gathered at the site has been making rounds on social media.

The incident took place on Wazirabad Road in Sialkot, where the workers of private factories reportedly attacked the export manager of a factory and burnt his body after killing him.

It is not yet clear what the man was accused of but according to various accounts on social media, he is believed to have torn a poster with religious inscription on it.

According to media reports, Sialkot District Police Officer Umar Saeed Malik said the man, identified as Priyantha Kumara, was a Sri Lankan national.

Moreover, IG Punjab Rao Sardar Ali Khan has taken the notice of the incident and directed the RPO Gujranwala to "immediately" reach the site.

According to IG Punjab, Sialkot DPO is present at the site and a thorough investigation will be conducted into the incident.

Reacting to the development, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar took notice of the murder, terming it as a 'very tragic incident' and sought a report from the IG Police. The CM has ordered a "high-level" investigation into the incident.

"The incident should be investigated from every aspect and a report should be submitted. Action should be taken against those who took the law into their own hands," CM Buzdar said.

"No one would be allowed to take law in their hands. This is a very tragic incident. The government will take legal action against violators of the law," he added.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Ulema Council “strongly condemned” the Sialkot incident.

“The murder of a foreign manager on the allegations of blasphemy in Sialkot is regretful and highly condemnable,” read a statement issued by the PUC Chairman Tahir Ashrafi.

Ashrafi, who is also the special representative to the PM on religious harmony and Middle East affairs, said the criminals would be apprehended and brought to justice.

“Blasphemy laws are present in the country. People, who attacked the Sri Lankan manager, have also violated these laws,” it read, “the actions of killers of Sri Lankan manager in Sialkot were inhumane and un-Islamic.”

Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa also condemned the Sialkot incident.

According to the Inter Service Public Relation (ISPR), COAS directs all out support to civil administration to arrest perpetrators of this heinous crime and bring them to justice.

He said that the cold blooded murder of Srilankan by a mob at Sialkot is extremely condemnable and shameful. Such extra judicial vigilantism cannot be condoned at any cost, Army Chief added.

Reaction

Within moments of the video of the mob attack being shared on social media, people took to Twitter to condemn the incident.

Journalist Asma Shirazi said that mere notices won’t work, the society was becoming "extremist" and unfortunately, the "negligence of government and extremist policies of the state over the years make this country intolerant".

Lawyer and activist Jibran Nasir asked some important questions, including the role of the state in nurturing allies.

Many people, including journalist Anas Malick, said the incident refleted the growing intolerance in society.

One user expressed a sentiment about hell being a better place to live.

And while one Indian writer commented that Sialkot was indicative of barbarism in Pakistan, he was reminded by a fellow Indian that their country wasn't immune from such incidents.

Furthermore, journalist Zarrar Khuhro reminded the people of Mashal Khan and the "consequences of legitmising mob violence in the name of religion." Mashal Khan -- a 23-year-old student of the Department of Mass Communication at the Abdul Wali Khan University, Mardan, was lynched by a mob and shot over allegations of blasphemy on April 13, 2017

Another journalist Mubashir Zaidi also shared the video of the incident, as the Sialkot incident was the top trend on the social networking site.

Journalist Hasan Zaidi lamented that such an incident had happened again in the country.

In addition to this, digital rights activist Nighat Dad urged the people to stop sharing the graphic video/images from the Sialkot incident.