New footage has emerged that shows that a colleague of the Sri Lankan man tried to protect him when mob attacked on him for alleged blasphemy.

Priyantha Kumara was tortured to death and his body was set on fire on Friday. Punjab IGP Rao Sardar Ali Khan, in his initial report to authorities according to news agency AFP, said Kumara had asked the employees of Rajco Industries, located on Wazirabad Road, to remove all stickers from factory machines before a foreign delegation arrived.

The workers had subsequently staged a protest on the factory premises, alleging that he had committed blasphemy. They suspended traffic and were joined by all the factory workers and a large number of locals. On seeing the mob gradually swell from a few dozen to hundreds, Kumara had dashed to the roof.

Footage shot before his lynching showed a colleague trying to protect Kumara on the roof of the factory where he had fled while the mob of around two dozen people slowly grew in number.

In the video, some among the mob can be heard chanting slogans and saying “he (the manager) will not escape today,” while the colleague tried to shield Kumara with his body, who clung to the man’s legs.

Workers had later overpowered the man and dragged Kumara out on the road and beat him with kicks, stones and iron rods, killing him on the spot. The mob had then set the body on fire.

Kumara, a Sri Lankan Christian, had been working at Rajco Industries for 10 years.

The brutal killing drew widespread condemnation from government officials and human rights bodies.

PRIME SUSPECTS: On Friday, the Sialkot DC and DPO had briefed a meeting of provincial officials about the details of the incident through video link. They claimed the deceased was known to be a strict administrator, adding around 110 suspects had been arrested, while raids were being conducted to apprehend the others.

In a late-night statement, the IGP claimed that two main suspects, Farhan Idrees and Usman Rasheed, were among those arrested.

On Saturday, Special Assistant to the Punjab Chief Minister on Information Hasaan Khawar updated the number of arrests to 118, saying that 200 raids had been conducted and that among those detained were 13 primary suspects.

In a press conference in Lahore alongside Punjab IGP Rao Sardar Ali Khan, the special assistant said the police had obtained footage from 160 CCTV cameras and additional video and data sources such as mobile data and call records were also being analysed.

“There has been considerable progress and the investigation is continuing,” Khawar said, adding that the body would be handed over to the Sri Lankan embassy through the interior and foreign ministries.

“I want to again reassure you that justice won’t only be carried out but will be seen to be carried out,” he said, adding that no leeway would be granted to anyone and action would be taken even if officials were found to be negligent in their duties.

The IGP provided a timeline of Friday’s events, saying that according to the information received so far, the incident began at 10:02am on Friday and escalated to violence and beatings around 10:45am, leading to Kumara’s death at 11:05am. He said the police was alerted to the incident at 11:28am and reached the spot at 11:45am.

IGP Rao said a challan would be submitted in an anti-terrorism court as soon as possible to bring the culprits to justice.

PM IMRAN SPEAKS TO LANKAN PRESIDENT: Later, Prime Minister Imran Khan said he had spoken to Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa “to convey our nation’s anger and shame to people of Sri Lanka at the vigilante killing of Priyantha Diyawadana in Sialkot”.

“I informed him that over 100 people [have been] arrested and assured him they would be prosecuted with full severity of the law,” the premier tweeted.

Prime Minister Imran’s tweet came after Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said he was shocked by the brutal and fatal attack on the manager and expressed the hope that the former would fulfil his commitment to penalise those involved in the killing.

“My heart goes out to his wife and family. #SriLanka and her people are confident that PM [Imran Khan] will keep to his commitment to bring all those involved to justice,” he tweeted.

On Friday, Prime Minister Imran had called the incident a “horrific vigilante attack”, adding that it was a day of shame for Pakistan. “I am overseeing the investigations and let there be no mistake, all those responsible will be punished with full severity of the law. Arrests are in progress,” he had tweeted.

According to a report by Sri Lankan media organization News 1st, minister Dinesh Gunawardena appreciated Prime Minister Imran’s “intervention to ensure justice is served”. He was speaking during a session of the parliament, which condemned the lynching.

“The government wishes to express its condolence over the death of Priyantha Kumara Diyawadana, a Sri Lankan University degree holder and a manager at a factory in Pakistan, who was the victim of an attack carried out by extremists regardless of territorial boundaries. Further, the government strongly condemns the inhumane attack that took the world by surprise,” Gunawardena said, according to the report.

The story was filed by the News Desk.
The Desk can be reached at info@thecorrespondent.com.pk.

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