Wednesday Dec 08 2021
Web Desk

Sialkot lynching case: Punjab police identify 40 new suspects

Web Desk

  • Punjab police say suspects identified with help of different videos.
  • Say most newly identified suspects were outsiders, including residents of villages near factory.
  • Sialkot DPO says investigations revealed role of another prime suspect, Saboor Butt, in provoking and gathering factory workers for attack.

A total of 40 new suspects have been identified during the investigation into the lynching of Sri Lankan factory manager Diyawadanage Don Nandasri Priyantha in Sialkot last week, Geo News reported Wednesday.

The police said that the suspects were identified with the help of different videos. They said that most of the newly identified suspects were outsiders, including residents of villages near the factory.

They further stated that several raids were conducted after details regarding the suspects surfaced.

"The newly identified suspects will be arrested soon," the police said.

The Sialkot district police officer (DPO), meanwhile, revealed that a prime suspect named Saboor Butt had provoked the factory workers against Priyantha and gathered them for the attack.

A video shows Priyantha and Butt in the factory's stitching hall which the deceased factory worker had visited right before being lynched.

The DPO said that Saboor Butt is currently in police custody on a physical remand and is being interrogated.

The role of other suspects in the incident is also being identified, he added.

Eight more suspects arrested

Meanwhile, Punjab inspector-general of police said that eight more prime suspects in the case have been arrested with the help of mobile phone data and videos of the incident.

He said the new detainees include Zakir Salman, who was involved in desecrating Priyantha's body, and others, who incited the attack, tortured Priyantha and filmed the lynching.

Developments in Sialkot lynching investigation

The police, while giving a briefing about the latest developments in the investigation, said that the data from the factory's biometric attendance system suggested that there were 2,000 workers, including 300 female workers, present in the factory at the time of the incident.

They said that the lynching occurred in block K-4 of the factory, while the female workers were in block K-3.

The new findings showed that Waheed, who worked as the deputy manager of the factory, was with Priyantha at the time of the incident.

The police said that Waheed took Priyantha to his [Priyantha's] office on the third floor and tried to control the situation by taking factory owner Shahbaz Bhatti in the loop.

He also shifted the female workers to the back of the factory, and took Priyantha on the factory's rooftop when he noticed the situation was aggravating.

"Waheed told Priyantha to seal the rooftop's door and came downstairs," the police said.

They said that Waheed's timely action kept the women safe but "unfortunately there was no bolt to bar the door at Priyantha's side".

They further stated that 10 DVRs, biometric attendance machines, and videos related to the incident have been sent to a forensic lab for analysis. The videos and biometric attendance will be made part of evidence.

Court remands 26 suspects to police custody

As of Monday, 26 suspects arrested in connection with the case were remanded to police custody.

The police requested an anti-terrorism court in Gujranwala to grant a 15-day remand of the suspects for interrogation, which the court accepted and ordered the investigation officer to present them on December 12.

So far, more than 135 suspects have been arrested in connection with the Sialkot lynching case.

According to the Punjab police spokesperson, 26 suspects were found to have played a key role in the gruesome murder.

He had earlier said that CM Buzdar and the Punjab inspector-general of police are continuously monitoring the investigation and the process of identification of arrested suspects is continuing.

The lynching

Diyawadana Priyantha, working as a manager at a private factory in Sialkot, was lynched last Friday by a mob after being accused of blasphemy.

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

Workers of a garment industry, located on Sialkot’s Wazirabad Road, had alleged that the foreigner had committed blasphemy. He was subsequently lynched and his body set on fire.

The mob had also vandalised the factory and blocked traffic, according to the police.

The brutal murder drew widespread condemnation from 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.