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A mob in Pakistan lynches a Sri Lankan company manager for blasphemy

The Sri Lankan allegedly tore a Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) poster with Quranic verses

A mob in Pakistan lynches a Sri Lankan company manager for blasphemy

A top Sri Lankan textile factory executive was lynched and his body burned by enraged members of a hardline Islamist party who attacked the facility in Pakistan's Punjab region on Friday over blasphemy claims, according to authorities.

A Punjab police officer told PTI that Priyantha Kumara, who was in his 40s, was the general manager of a textile industry in Sialkot district, around 100 kilometres from Lahore.

"Mr Kumara allegedly tore a poster of the hardline Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) in which Quranic verses were inscribed and threw it in the dustbin. The poster of the Islamist party was pasted on the wall adjoining the office of Kumara. A couple of factory workers saw him removing the poster and spread the word in the factory," the official said.

Hundreds of men gathered outside the plant from surrounding neighbourhoods, incensed by the "blasphemy" occurrence. The majority of them were TLP activists and supporters.

"The mob dragged the suspect (the Sri Lankan national) from the factory and severely tortured him. After he succumbed to his wounds, the mob burnt his body before police reached there," the official said.

Several videos were circulated on social media showing hundreds of men gathered at the site surrounding the body of the Sri Lankan national. They were chanting slogans of the TLP.

After negotiating a secret agreement with the TLP, the Imran Khan government recently lifted a ban on it, freeing its leader Saad Rizvi and over 1,500 activists guilty of terrorism.

In exchange, the TLP concluded its week-long sit-in in Punjab by dropping its demand that the French ambassador be expelled over the subject of blasphemous drawings in France.

Punjab Police announced late Friday evening that they had apprehended 100 individuals after identifying them through video evidence.

"We have arrested 100 suspects allegedly involved in the lynching of the Sri Lankan national under terrorism and other charges," Inspector General Police (Punjab) Rao Sardar Ali Khan said in a statement.

"More arrests are being made and those involved in this gory incident will not be spared," he declared.

Farukh Habib, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting, said in a tweet, "We are investigating. The main culprit named Farhan Idrees has been arrested. 100 others are in custody."

He further added: "Condemn the horrific mob attack on the Sri Lankan factory manager burnt alive in Sialkot."

The incident has sparked widespread condemnation from all walks of life.

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