Politics

Supporters of Pakistan’s extreme Islamist party lynch a Sri Lankan citizen for blasphemy

A top Sri Lankan textile factory executive was lynched and his body burned by enraged members of a hardline Islamist party who attacked the facility in Pakistan’s Punjab region on Friday over blasphemy claims, according to authorities.

A Punjab police source told PTI that Priyantha Kumara, who was in his 40s, was the general manager of a textile industry in Sialkot district, around 100 kilometres from here.

“Mr Kumara allegedly tore a Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) poster with Quranic verses scribbled on it and tossed it in the trash.” The Islamist party’s poster was posted on the wall next to Kumara’s office. “A few manufacturing workers witnessed him removing the poster and spread the word across the plant,” the official stated.

Hundreds of men gathered outside the plant from surrounding neighbourhoods, incensed by the “blasphemy” occurrence. The majority of them were TLP activists and supporters.

“The mob took the suspect (a Sri Lankan national) from the factory and subjected him to brutal abuse.” “Before police arrived, the crowd burned his body after he succumbed to his wounds,” the official claimed.

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Several videos appeared on social media showing hundreds of men gathered around the Sri Lankan national’s body at the crime scene. They were chanting the TLP’s slogans.

After negotiating a secret agreement with the TLP, the Imran Khan government recently lifted a ban on it, freeing its leader Saad Rizvi and over 1,500 activists guilty of terrorism.

In exchange, the TLP concluded its week-long sit-in in Punjab by dropping its demand that the French ambassador be expelled over the subject of blasphemous drawings in France.

After the lynching of the Sri Lankan national, Sialkot District Police Officer Umar Saeed Malik told reporters that a large number of police had been dispatched in the region to contain the situation.

Usman Buzdar, the Chief Minister of Punjab, called it a “tragic occurrence” and ordered the Inspector General of Police to investigate and report back to him within 24 hours.

“The situation should be thoroughly examined, and a report should be submitted.” “Those who take the law into their own hands shall face consequences,” the chief minister stated in a statement.

The situation in the neighbourhood is tight, and all factories are closed, according to the police.

Meanwhile, Hassan Khawar, a spokeswoman for the Punjab administration, told Geo News that “about 50 persons have been arrested.”

“CCTV footage is being gathered in order to identify people who were responsible.” The IG has given law enforcement employees 48 hours to deliver results, after which the investigation will be prolonged,” the spokeswoman stated.

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