India - Sri Lankan national lynched in Pakistan over 'blasphemy' 100 arrested

(MENAFN- NewsBytes)

A Sri Lankan factory manager was beaten to death and set on fire by a mob in Pakistan on Friday. The incident took place in Sialkot district of Punjab province. Police said supporters of a hardline Islamist party attacked the executive, Priyantha Kumara, over allegations of blasphemy. The incident has triggered outrage in Pakistan and elsewhere while the local police has arrested 100 people.

Context Why does this story matter?

Mob killings over blasphemy allegations have been frequent in Pakistan in recent years. In fact, the country has one of the strictest set of laws against blasphemy and punishments can include death penalty. Rights groups say allegations of blasphemy are sometimes invoked to settle personal agendas, especially against religious minorities. A US government report suggests Pakistan uses blasphemy laws more than any other country.

Details Kumara's body set ablaze in public

Image source: Associated Press

The mob, mostly comprising supporters of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), dragged out Kumara from the factory and thrashed him. After the man died, the mob set him ablaze before police reached the spot. Videos from the scene showed members of the mob shouting pro-TLP slogans while surrounding the victim's body. 'CCTV footage is being carefully looked into,' a government spokesman told reporters in Lahore.

Accusations What were the allegations against Kumara?

Police said Kumara allegedly tore down a poster carrying Islamic holy verses and threw it in the dustbin. The poster had reportedly been pasted on a wall adjoining Kumara's office. 'A couple of factory workers saw him removing the poster and spread the word in the factory,' a police official said, according to Press Trust of India.

Probe 'A day of shame for Pakistan'

By Friday evening, the local police had detained 100 suspects after examining video clips from the area. Punjab Police chief Rao Sardar said more arrests will be made. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan called it a 'day of shame for Pakistan.' 'I am overseeing the investigations and let there be no mistake, all those responsible will be punished with full severity of the law.'

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