Tuesday Dec 07 2021
Web Desk

'Sialkot lynching shook nation to its core': Religious scholars vow to bring culprits to justice

Web Desk
A screengrab of the press conference held on Tuesday, December 7, 2021 by some of Pakistans leading religious scholars on the Sialkot lynching.
A screengrab of the press conference held on Tuesday, December 7, 2021 by some of Pakistan's leading religious scholars on the Sialkot lynching.

  • Mufti Taqi Usmani leads delegation of religious scholars in meeting with Sri Lankan high commissioner.
  • Delegation expresses grief over gruesome incident, solidarity with Sri Lankan people.
  • Vows to bring culprits involved in lynching of Sri Lankan citizen to justice.

ISLAMABAD: Some of Pakistan's most senior religious scholars (ulema) on Tuesday vowed to ensure that all culprits involved in the lynching of Sri Lankan citizen Diyawadanage Don Nandasri Priyantha would be brought to justice. 

The promise was made as the ulema addressed a press conference flanked by Sri Lanka's High Commissioner to Pakistan Mohan Vijay Vikrama in Islamabad.

A delegation of religious scholars from all sects, led by Wifaqul Madaris Al-Arabia President Mufti Taqi Usmani, had a short while earlier met the Sri Lankan high commissioner to offer their condolences over the gruesome murder of Priyantha in Sialkot on Friday. 

The scholars said their visit was to express grief over the unfortunate incident and assure the Sri Lankan government's representative that the issue would be dealt with justly.

"The incident has shaken the entire nation to its core," Mufti Taqi Usmani said in his address.

He expressed solidarity with the Sri Lankan people on behalf of the religious scholars of Pakistan, saying that they [the ulema] equally share the other side's grief.

Mufti Usmani said Priyantha's family would also be compensated for their loss, "Even though there can be no real compensation [for the loss of a life]." 

The delegation also requested Mohan to convey their heartfelt condolences to the people and government of Sri Lanka.

He also thanked Mohan for giving them a chance to meet him.

Council of Islamic Ideology Chairman Qibla Ayaz said action will be taken on the incident in line with the laws of Pakistan.

Former senator and religious scholar Sajid Mir said that no amount of condemnation of the Sialkot incident is enough. 

"We are with Priyantha's family," he added.

Sahibzada Hamid Raza said the religious scholars of Pakistan will play their role in bringing the culprits to justice.

The Sri Lankan high commissioner, offering his remarks, said: "All of us strongly condemn the incident."

"Not only should such incidents not occur in Pakistan, but in the entire world as well," he said.

The high commissioner said he is satisfied with the measures taken by the Government of Pakistan in dealing with the issue.

He reiterated that the incident will not affect ties between Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

'Ulema paid respects at memorial for Priyantha'

Later, while addressing a conference, Ashrafi said ulema of all sects laid flowers at memorials which contained photographs of the deceased Sri Lankan manager.

"The Sri Lankan manager was our guest and was working in Pakistan for the last 10 years," Ashrafi said.

"We will not allow anyone to use religion for their personal gain," he said, adding that the premier had made it clear that "hooliganism" in the name of religion will not be tolerated anymore.

Ashrafi said the Sialkot tragedy was a source of grief for the nation, and that the people behind the incident had brought a bad name to the country.

"Now, no one will be allowed to torch someone to death or burn houses [...] for how long will people from the Christian community go to jails?" the special representative asked.

The incident

Diyawadana Priyantha, working as a manager at a private factory in Sialkot, was lynched on Friday by a violent mob.

Workers of a garment industry, located on Sialkot’s Wazirabad Road, had alleged that the foreigner had committed blasphemy. The accusation was that he had reportedly removed some posters inscribed with the names of religiously revered personalities from the factory's walls. 

Led by miscreants, the mob beat the foreigner to death, burnt his body, vandalised the factory and blocked traffic, according to the police.

The brutal murder had promptly drawn widespread condemnation from  the citizenry, senior government functionaries, including the prime minister and president, as well as the military's top leadership, who promised to bring all those involved to the book.

The gruesome incident was dubbed by Prime Minister Imran Khan as "a day of shame for Pakistan".

A joint statement issued by the religious scholars of Pakistan called the Sialkot incident a "violation of the Constitution of Pakistan and Islamic laws, which caused great humiliation to the country".