As more arrests were made and condemnation continued to pour in over the lynching of Sri Lankan factory manager Priyantha Kumara over blasphemy allegations in Sialkot, new footage obtained by Dawn.com on Saturday showed that a colleague of the man tried to protect him from the mob prior to the ghastly incident.
Kumara was tortured to death and his body was set on fire on Friday. The employees of Rajco Industries, located on Wazirabad Road, had staged a protest on the premises on Friday alleging that he had committed blasphemy.
The protesters had suspended traffic on Wazirabad Road and were joined by all the factory workers and a large number of locals. On seeing the mob gradually swell from a few dozen to hundreds, Kumara had dashed to the roof.
Footage shot prior to the lynching showed a colleague trying to protect Kumara on the roof of the factory where he had fled while the mob of around two dozen people slowly grew in number.
In the video, some among the mob can be heard chanting slogans and saying “he (the manager) will not escape today” while the colleague tried to shield Kumara with his body, who clung to the man’s legs.
The workers had overpowered the colleague and dragged Kumara out on the road and tortured him with kicks, stones and iron rods, killing him on the spot. The mob then set the body on fire.
Kumara, a Sri Lankan Christian, had been working at Rajco Industries for 10 years.
The brutal killing drew widespread condemnation from government officials and human rights bodies.
Reacting to the “horrific vigilante attack”, Prime Minister Imran Khan said it was a day of shame for Pakistan. “I am overseeing the investigations & let there be no mistake all those responsible will be punished with full severity of the law. Arrests are in progress,” he tweeted.
Later in the day, the Sialkot DC and DPO briefed a meeting of provincial officials about the details of the incident through video link. They claimed the deceased was known to be a strict administrator, adding around 110 suspects had been arrested, while raids were being conducted to apprehend the others. The police was seeking the assistance of other managers of the factory to identify the culprits.
In a late-night statement, the IGP claimed that two main suspects, Farhan Idrees and Usman Rasheed, were among those arrested.
Sri Lankan parliament condemns lynching
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said he was shocked by the brutal and fatal attack on the manager.
“My heart goes out to his wife and family. #SriLanka and her people are confident that PM [Imran Khan] will keep to his commitment to bring all those involved to justice,” he tweeted on Saturday.
The Sri Lankan parliament also condemned the lynching during its session on Saturday, according to a report by Sri Lankan media organisation News 1st.
“The government wishes to express its condolence over the death of Priyantha Kumara Diyawadana, a Sri Lankan University degree holder and a manager at a factory in Pakistan, who was the victim of an attack carried out by extremists regardless of territorial boundaries. Further, the government strongly condemns the inhumane attack that took the world by surprise,” minister Dinesh Gunawardena said.
He appreciated Prime Minister Imran’s “intervention to ensure justice is served”, the report added.