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Remains of Sri Lankan lynching victim arrives from Pakistan

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — The charred remains of a factory manager who was lynched by a mob in Pakistan over alleged blasphemy was brought back to Sri Lanka on Monday.

Sri Lankan national Priyantha Kumara was assaulted by a mob of hundreds of people before being dragged onto 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 received Kumara’s remains in a wooden box decorated by flower garlands, before preparations to hand over the coffin to his family to perform his last rites.

Sri Lankan air port workers carry remains of Priyantha Kumara, a Sri Lankan employee who was lynched by a Muslim mob in Sialkot last week after unloading it from an aircraft in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Monday, Dec. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

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

Members of Sri Lankan civil society organisations protest demanding justice for the Sri Lankan employee who has been lynched by Muslim mob in Sialkot last week outside Pakistani high commission in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Monday, Dec. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

“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, said. He was speaking with Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and Christian leaders who met him at the Pakistani mission.

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

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

In the conservative society of Pakistan, mere allegations of blasphemy can trigger mob attacks. The country’s blasphemy law carries the death penalty for anyone found guilty of the offense.

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