The Punjab police have arrested eight more men for murdering and burning the body of Sri Lankan national Priyantha Kumara over alleged blasphemy charges in Sialkot.
The accused were presented in an anti-terrorism court Wednesday. They have been remanded into police custody for 15 days.
According to the police, the suspects were identified with the help of CCTV footage and mobile data. So far, 139 suspects including 34 prime suspects have been arrested by the police.
Earlier, the Gujranwala anti-terrorism court approved the 15-day physical remand of 26 suspects, arrested for their “central role” in the lynching.
The Sialkot District Police Officer (DPO) said that Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar is overseeing the case and investigations himself.
Priyantha was attacked by a mob of nearly 800 to 900 people. They tortured, beat up, murdered, and then burnt his body on the Wazirabad road.
After the incident, the Sialkot police issued a statement giving the following details.
- At 11:30am, the police received information about a brawl and torture of a worker in a factory located at the Wazirabad Road. Ugoki Police Station SHO arrived at the scene by 11:50am and found that some incensed people had set a person on fire. The police doused the flames.
- After getting the report of the unfortunate incident, the DPO Sialkot and other police officials arrived at the scene and controlled the situation.
- The police have registered an FIR No. 1412 under sections 431, 427, 149, 147, 297, 201, 302, and 7 ATA at Ugoki Police station against unidentified people and have launched an investigation.
- At least ten investigation teams have been formed under the DPO and they are carrying out raids to arrest the accused who are being identified from the [viral] videos.
No more misuse of religion: PM
On Tuesday, a ceremony was held in the Prime Minister Office to express solidarity with the family of Priyantha Kumara and to appreciate the courage of Malik Adnan who tried to shield Priyantha by putting his own life on the line.
Prime Minister Imran Khan awarded a letter of appreciation to Malik Adnan and said that Adnan would also be awarded Tamgha-e-Shujaat at the awards ceremony on March 23.
Addressing the ceremony, the prime minister said, “I have decided that from now on if anyone uses the religion, especially in the name of Rehmatul-lil-Alameen Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to commit injustice, we will not spare them.”
The PM said there was a misleading notion that Islam spread by the sword while in reality, the ten years of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)’s conquests left only 1,400 people dead.
Priyantha Kumar’s remains reached Colombo
The remains of Priyantha Kumara reached Colombo late Monday. It was repatriated to Sri Lanka from the Lahore airport.
The body was brought to the Allama Iqbal International Airport in an ambulance. It was dispatched via a Sri Lankan Airlines flight with state honours.