Body of Sri Lankan lynching victim arrives from Pakistan

Sri Lankan officials receive charred body of factory manager lynched by a mob for alleged blasphemy last week.

Sri Lankan workers stand next to the casket carrying remains of Priyantha Kumara, who was lynched by a Muslim mob in Pakistan's Sialkot [Eranga Jayawardena/AP]

The charred body of a factory manager who was lynched by a mob in Pakistan for alleged blasphemy has been brought back to Sri Lanka.

Sri Lankan national Priyantha Kumara was assaulted by a mob of hundreds of people before being dragged into the streets and set on fire last Friday in Sialkot, Pakistan, where he helped run a sports equipment factory.

Workers at the factory accused him of desecrating posters bearing the name of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.

Sir Lankan government officials late on Monday received Kumara’s remains in a wooden box decorated with flower garlands before preparations to hand over the coffin to his family for his last rites expected to be held on Wednesday.

Hours before the arrival of the remains, dozens of activist and religious groups gathered before Pakistan’s mission in Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, demanding justice for him.

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

Ahmad said Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan had spoken with Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to reassure him that Pakistani authorities were investigating the lynching.

Khan in a phone call with Rajapaksa said Pakistani police had arrested more than 100 people in connection with the killing.

In Pakistan, mere allegations of blasphemy can trigger mob attacks. The country’s blasphemy law carries a possible death penalty.

Increasingly, blasphemy allegations have led to extrajudicial murders or mob lynchings, with at least 80 people killed in such attacks since 1990, according to an Al Jazeera tally.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies