At least 50 arrested over lynching of Sri Lankan citizen: Punjab govt

PM’s aide Tahir Ashrafi condemns incident, says clerics will visit Sri Lankan embassy to offer condolences


News Desk December 03, 2021
Punjab govt spokesperson flanked by PM's aide and police chief addressing press conference. SCREENGRAB

Punjab government spokesperson Hassan Khawar on Friday said that at least 50 people allegedly involved in killing of a Sri Lankan national over blasphemy allegations in Sialkot have been detained thus far.

The Sri Lankan national was tortured to death in the Punjab Town earlier today. An angry mob of hundreds also set the body of foreign national on fire after lynching him over blasphemy allegations.

Addressing the media hours after the tragic incident, the spokesperson, flanked by PM’s aide on interfaith harmony Hafiz Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi and Inspector General Police Punjab 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 were obtaining the CCTV footages of the incident to arrest the culprits and added that the Punjab police chief had directed the officials to submit the report within 48 hours.

Khawar said as per a preliminary police investigation report the incident occurred at 11.30 in the morning, 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.

Also read: Sri Lankan citizen lynched in Sialkot over alleged blasphemy

“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.

A police official, who arrived at the scene of the incident, had told The Express Tribune on the condition of anonymity that the deceased was 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" written on posters of a religio-political party on the factory walls. 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.

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 told The Express Tribune.

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