Sialkot lynching incident a day of shame for Pakistan: PM

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Vows to punish culprits involved in torturing Sri Lankan national to death over blasphemy allegations: Hassas says 50 arrested
ISLAMABAD
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday vowed to punish those responsible for torturing to death a Sri Lankan national over blasphemy allegations in Sialkot.
“The horrific vigilante attack on factory in Sialkot & the burning alive of Sri Lankan manager is a day of shame for Pakistan,” the premier wrote on his official Twitter handle. He revealed that arrests are being made and he himself is overseeing the investigation.
The Sri Lankan national was tortured to death by an angry mob of hundreds who also set the body on fire after lynching over blasphemy allegations. A police official, who arrived at the scene of the incident, said on the condition of anonymity that the deceased had been the operational manager at the factory for the past seven years.
He said the Sri Lankan national was accused by the factory workers of “tearing down Durood Sharif”. Rumours then started circulating across the factory area and a mob started gathering in the morning, he said, adding that police were informed about the incident much later at around 12:15pm.
Police claimed that the incident took place inside the factory premises and there was no way of knowing about it before that time.
When the police arrived at the scene, the victim had already been tortured to death and his body was being set to fire. “The police did try to stop the mob from setting the body on fire, but the rioters’ strength was overwhelming,” police said.
He said the factory was located on Sambrial Road and people from adjoining areas also joined the mob in the lynching. The police official further said that video footage from inside the factory, where the torture took place, has been seized to identify the suspects, adding that efforts to make arrests were underway. “Some people have been arrested,” the official added.
Meanwhile, the Punjab government Spokesperson Hassan Khawar has said that at least 50 people allegedly involved in the horrific incident have been detained so far.
Addressing the media hours after the tragic incident, the spokesperson, flanked by Special Assistant to the PM on Interfaith Harmony Hafiz Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi and Inspector General of Punjab Police Rao Sardar Ali Khan, said Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief Minister Usman Buzdar have issued directives to detain all accused involved in the heinous crime.
He said that officials are obtaining the CCTV footage of the incident to arrest the culprits and added that the Punjab police chief has directed the officials to submit the report within 48 hours.
Khawar said as per a preliminary police investigation report, the incident occurred at 11.30am when the enraged factory workers tortured the foreign national, who was a manager in the factory, to death and later burnt his body on Wazirabad Road in Sialkot.
Speaking on the occasion, PM’s aide Tahir Ashrafi condemned the incident, saying the lynching of the man is against the teachings of Islam. “We are ashamed over this incident and offer condolences to Sri Lanka,” he added.
Ashrafi said no one is allowed to take law into their own hands as laws are present to deal with blasphemy related cases. “If someone has committed blasphemy then he should be brought to justice in court,” he added.
Asrafi, who is also a chairman of Pakistan Ulema Council (PUC), said that all religious scholars will hold a separate press conference on this matter and will also visit the Sri Lankan embassy to offer condolences. “Undoubtedly, this is an act of barbarism which has nothing to do with Islam, Sunnat or humanity,” he remarked.
Meanwhile, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) chief Sirajul Haq termed the incident highly reprehensible, saying that the brutal killing of the foreign national defamed the image of Islam and country.
“This has nothing to do with Islam or religious teachings. The perpetrators should be arrested through an impartial investigation and punished,” he demanded in a tweet.