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Sialkot Mob Lynching case. 6 awarded death penalty

Nine suspects were also given life imprisonment and 72 others two years in prison each over Sialkot blasphemy case

LAHORE: An anti-terrorism court in Lahore announced the verdict in the mob lynching of Sri Lankan citizen Priyantha Kumara on false allegations of blasphemy in Sialkot last December, awarding death penalty to six prime suspects on Monday.

The trial court also gave life sentences to nine people, five years’ jail to one, and two-year sentences to 72. One suspect was acquitted, Punjab Prosecution Department Secretary Nadeem Sarwar said in a press conference in Lahore.

Some 89 people were tried, the prosecutor said.

Priyantha, a 49-year-old Sri Lankan national, was lynched by a mob of workers at a factory on December 3, 2021, where he was working as a manager.

A first information report (FIR) was registered against hundreds of unidentified men, including workers of the factory.

The special anti-terrorism court had on March 12 indicted the accused. The trial of the accused was held in Kot Lakhpat Jail, Lahore.

‘Horrific incident’

The nation was shell-shocked and disgusted in December last year when Kumara was brutally lynched and his body was set on fire by a mob in Sialkot. The sickening incident outraged the nation as the civil and military leaders denounced it as “horrific” “shameful” and “extra-judicial vigilantism”.

President Arif Alvi said the vigilante attack has nothing to do with religion and then prime minister Imran Khan promised that those responsible “will be punished with the full severity of the law”.

The gut-wrenching incident took place on Sialkot’s Wazirabad Road, where workers of private factories brutally lynched the Sri Lankan national, Priyantha Kumara.

Many in the mob made no attempt to hide their identity and some took selfies in front of the burning corpse. The police claimed that the grisly 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,” the official added.

‘Hero’ lauded

Malik Adnan, a colleague who tried to rescue Kumara from the mob, was awarded with a certificate of appreciation by the then prime minister in recognition of his bravery to safeguard the victim while risking his own life.

The civil and military leadership of the country saluted the moral courage and bravery of Adnan and announced awarding him Tamgha-e-Shujaat.

The heartening footage of Adnan trying to save the Sri Lankan national from the wild-eyed, rabid mob came to the fore soon after the incident, earning praise from the entire nation.

In the CCTV footage, Adnan was seen confronting a group of angry men all by himself and making desperate attempts to avert the flare-up.

He was then seen trying to shield the man from the angry mob, who were baying for blood.