PMO holds condolence reference for deceased Lankan man

ISLAMABAD: The office of Prime Minister Imran Khan will hold a condolence reference later today for Priyantha Kumara, the Sri Lankan manager of a local business who was killed by a mob in Sialkot Friday, the Associated Press of Pakistan announced.

The reference will be marked by the laying of a wreath at the deceased’s portrait. The event is being held in solidarity with Kumara’s family and the Sri Lankan nation and government.

The mob of factory employees tortured and burned the body of Kumara in an attack that Khan said brought shame on the country.

The killing raised alarm over the potential for accusations of blasphemy to fuel crowd violence in Pakistan, coming just weeks after at least seven policemen were killed in clashes with the radical Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) movement, which has built its identity on fighting blasphemy.

A first information report was registered against 900 workers of the business under multiple sections of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA).

A preliminary police report revealed the two primary suspects, Farhan Idrees and Usman Rasheed, whom the general manager used to chide for poor output and indiscipline, incited their colleagues to lynch him over “blasphemy”.

“Pakistan will leave no stone unturned to apprehend those involved. They will be given very strong punishments,” Pakistan’s acting high commissioner to Sri Lanka, Tanvir Ahmad, told Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and Christian leaders who called on him at the mission.

The violence, which was condemned by rights watchdogs including Amnesty International, also drew intense responses from politicians, celebrities and journalists on social media.

Kumara’s remains were repatriated to Sri Lanka on Monday with state honours.

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