Islamabad repatriates the remains of the factory manager who was beaten to death and set ablaze by a mob, an incident PM Imran Khan called a “day of shame for Pakistan.”
The charred remains of a factory manager who was lynched by a mob in Pakistan over alleged blasphemy have been brought back to Sri Lanka.
Sir Lankan government officials received its national Priyantha Diyawadana’s remains on Monday in a wooden box decorated by flower garlands before preparations to hand over the coffin to his family to perform his last rites.
Diyawadana was assaulted by a mob of hundreds of people before being dragged onto the streets and set on fire last Friday in Sialkot, Pakistan, where he helped run a sports equipment factory.
Immediately after the incident that shocked Pakistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan said he will personally oversee the investigation, branding the incident as a “day of shame for Pakistan.”
Pakistan promises swift justice
Hours before the arrival of the remains, dozens of activist and religious groups gathered before Pakistan’s mission in Sri Lanka’s capital of Colombo demanding justice for the victim.
“Pakistan will leave no stone unturned to apprehend those involved. They will be given very strong punishments,” Pakistan’s acting ambassador to Sri Lanka, Tanvir Ahmad, said.
“Pakistan will not spare… will not give any excuses to the individuals who have done this vigilante act.”
He was speaking with Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, and Christian leaders who met him at the Pakistani mission.
Ahmad said that Pakistan’s prime minister had spoken with Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to reassure him that Pakistani authorities were investigating the lynching.
Police have so far arrested 131 people including 26 prime suspects who have been remanded in custody, Sialkot police spokesman Khurram Shehzad told AFP news agency.
Over 900 protesters have been booked under terrorism charges.
Award for bravery
Pakistan has meanwhile announced a top civilian award for a man who risked his life while trying to save Diyawadana from being lynched in an effort that went in vain.
Malik Adnan, a colleague of the slain Sri Lankan citizen, will be awarded Tamgha-i-Shujaat, or the ‘Medal of Bravery’ for “endangering his own life by physically trying to shield the victim,” PM Khan announced on Sunday.
In the conservative society of Pakistan, mere allegations of blasphemy can trigger mob attacks.
The country’s blasphemy law carries the death penalty for anyone found guilty of the offense.
Some politicians and activists argued that broader societal and political change was needed, beyond legal consequences for those involved.
“Arrests should of course be made, but there has to be a clear appraisal of why mobs feel the impunity,” said Senator Sherry Rehman, a member of the opposition Pakistan People’s Party.
In an editorial entitled “Horror in Sialkot”, leading newspaper Dawn criticised Pakistan for “appeasing religious extremists.”
“Once again, we are reminded how far this nation has descended into the abyss,” the editorial said.