LAHORE: The remains of Sri Lankan factory manager Priyantha Kumara, who was tortured to death over blasphemy allegations in Sialkot last week, were repatriated to Colombo, Sri Lanka, from Allama Iqbal International Airport on Monday afternoon.
The corpse of Kumara was brought to the airport in an ambulance where Provincial Minority Affairs Minister Ejaz Alam Augustine received it and dispatched it via a Sri Lankan Airlines flight with state honour. Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar was supposed to hand over the body of the Sri Lankan national but he could not reach the spot due to a ‘busy schedule in Islamabad’.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Religious Harmony and Middle East Affairs Hafiz Mohammad Tahir Ashrafi, Honorary Consul General of Sri Lanka Yasin Joya and representatives of the Punjab Home Department and Sri Lankan High Commission were present at the airport.
Talking to the media at the airport, Ashrafi said: “Today is a day of grief but we promise that the killers of Priyantha Kumara will be brought to justice.” He added that the whole nation would have to unite to eradicate extremism the way it had eliminated terrorism from the country.
Later in the day, the Punjab police said that police teams have arrested seven more suspects who allegedly played a primary role in the lynching of 49-year-old Kumara, taking the total number of arrests to 131. Of them, the police claimed that 26 people played a central role as they planned the attack, waged violence and incited others.
The police further said that raids were being conducted across Punjab to apprehend other suspects and the process to identify more prime suspects was ongoing.
Punjab Chief Minister Buzdar in a statement said, “We equally share the grief of the Sri Lankan government, nation and the bereaved family over the murder of Sri Lankan citizen Priyantha Kumara.” He extended condolences to Kumara’s family and assured them that the government was fulfilling all its responsibilities in the matter.
“I am reviewing the progress made in the investigation myself. The culprits will be given the harshest punishment under the law,” added the CM.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Imran Khan while saluting the moral courage and bravery of Malik Adnan, who tried to rescue the Sri Lankan factory manager from the mob, had announced awarding Tamgha-e-Shujaat to him.
“On behalf of the nation, I want to salute moral courage and bravery of Malik Adnan who tried his utmost to shelter and save Priyantha Diyawadana from the vigilante mob in Sialkot, including endangering his own life by physically trying to shield the victim,” tweeted the premier.
In the footage, Malik can be seen confronting a group of angry men all by himself and making desperate attempts to possibly convince the mob to take Kumara to a police station instead of taking law into their hands. The mob, however, pushed him away and bundled Kumara and brutally tortured him.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021