Culprits in Sialkot incident to be prosecuted with full severity of law, PM tells Sri Lankan president

Prime Minister Imran Khan (left) and Sri Lankan President Gotabaya. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The culprits behind the lynching of a Sri Lankan  factory manager in Sialkot will be prosecuted  with full severity of the law, Prime Minister Imran Khan told Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa  on Saturday.

The prime minister, in a tweet, said he conveyed the nation’s anger and shame to the people of Sri Lanka at the killing of Diyawadanage Don Nandasri Priyantha.

“I informed him 100+ people [have been] arrested and assured him they would be prosecuted with the full severity of the law,” the prime minister added.

The Sri Lankan national,  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.

Wife pleads for justice

Priyantha’s wife has pleaded for justice for her slain husband from both Pakistani and Sri Lankan leaders, Sri Lankan news outlet Newswire reported.

“I got to know about the brutal murder of my husband from the news. Later I saw this on the internet as well. He was a very innocent man,” she said, talking to reporters from BBC Sinhala.

“I request leaders of Sri Lanka and Pakistan to do justice for my husband and two children, by bringing the perpetrators to justice” she went on to say.

The deceased’s brother said that Priyantha had been working in the Sialkot factory since 2012.

Sri Lankan PM, president hopeful

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.

The president, while expressing concern over the matter in a statement on Twitter, hoped that the Pakistani government would ensure the safety of Sri Lankan workers in the future.

“SriLanka 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 Friday 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.

He added: “Sri Lanka and her people are confident that PM Imran Khan will keep to his commitment to bring all those involved to justice.”

FM Qureshi hopes ties will not be affected

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi 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.

Moreover, in a conversation with the media, Qureshi said the event was “unfortunate and shameful”, and that it had been condemned unanimously. “The prime minister is personally overseeing the investigation,” he said.

The foreign minister told journalists that the government had given a 48-hour deadline to authorities to probe the matter.

“We are in contact with Sri Lanka on the issue. They lauded Pakistan’s stance in the matter and the government’s prompt response,” he said.

The foreign minister hoped that the incident would not impact bilateral ties, as the Pakistani nation and the government had nothing to do with it.

He said the entire nation’s heads hang low in shame over the incident.

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, well-placed sources told Geo News, as authorities confirmed that 118 people, including 13 key suspects, have been arrested.

Sources further told Geo News 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).

Shortly after, the factory owner reached the spot and resolved the issue. Kumara had apologised for the misunderstanding on his part.

After Priyantha made the apology, the matter was reportedly considered settled and the factory workers had dispersed.

However, some workers then incited their colleagues to attack the manager.

Within a few minutes, a mob formed and set on the victim within the premises of the industrial unit, eventually killing him.

A total of 13 security guards were present in the factory as the brutal attack was occurring. None of them tried to rescue the victim or disperse the mob, said the report.

Kumara’s body was later 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.

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