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Blasphemy: Sri Lankan national beaten to death by mob in Pakistan for blasphemy

Sialkot, First Published Dec 4, 2021, 3:22 PM IST

A Sri Lankan man has been tortured and killed by a mob in Pakistan for blasphemy. Priyantha Diyawadana, general manager of a factory in Sialkot, Punjab, was brutally murdered by a mob on Friday. Scenes of him being beaten and tortured by hundreds of people after being dragged to the ground have spread on social media. His body was set on fire after being brutally beaten. People trying to take selfies with corpses can also be seen in the video footage.

He had been the general manager of the factory for the last seven years. He tore up a poster containing the words of the Qur’an, which caused people to turn against him. As early as Friday morning, people had gathered at the gate of the factory. He was apprehended by people who rushed to the factory in the afternoon. The Chilean posters were removed before parts of the wall were demolished as part of a factory renovation. Assistant Commissioner of Police Mohammad Murtaza said that the misconception that this was part of the Prophet himself led to the mob violence.

It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post. Police have launched an investigation into the incident. Police have arrested 50 people in connection with the violence. Further arrests are expected based on video footage from the scene. But Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has been sharply critical of the incident. Imran Khan described the mob violence as a day that embarrassed Pakistan. Imran Khan said there would be no mistake in finding the culprits in the incident and the punishment would be ensured. Sialkot, about 200 km from Islamabad, was the scene of the mob violence.

Even false allegations of blasphemy are causing a great deal of controversy in Pakistan. But right-wing activists allege that the laws are being abused against other religions and against minorities such as Shia and Ahmadis. Former Punjab Governor Salman Taseer was assassinated in 2011 for calling for changes in the blasphemy law. Salman Taseer was shot dead by a security guard. Pakistan’s blasphemy laws were tightened during the 1980s regime of military ruler Ziaul Haq. It was also during this period that the death penalty was imposed as the maximum punishment for blasphemy under the law. It is estimated that more than 1,296 blasphemy cases were filed in Pakistan between 2011 and 2015, the latest period when unified information was available.

Last Updated Dec 4, 2021, 3:22 PM IST

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