A Sri Lankan man was lynched and his body was burned by a mob in Sialkot district of Pakistan’s Punjab province on Friday, AP reported. He had allegedly desecrated the posters with the name of Prophet Muhammad.
Special representative for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Hafiz Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi said that 50 people were arrested so far, and the police were identifying more based on the CCTV footage of the lynching, Dawn reported.
Videos circulating on social media accessed by AP show the mob dragging the Sri Lankan man’s bruised body to the street from a sports equipment factory, where he used to work as a manager. They set his body on fire as hundreds of people cheer.
The police claimed that they got to know of the incident at 11.26 am, following which they reached the spot in 20 minutes.
“We are probing the facts and also looking at the police response, whether there was any sort of delay,” said Punjab Inspector General Rao Sardar Ali Khan, according to Dawn. “The incident was sensitive and unfortunate.”
The police also said that they were trying to determine what prompted the mob to kill the Sri Lankan man, AP reported. His body has been sent to a hospital for autopsy examination.
Pakistan’s Punjab province Chief Minister Usman Buzdar said he has instructed the inspector general to thoroughly investigate the incident.
“No one is allowed to take [the] law in their hands,” he said in a tweet. “Rest assured, individuals involved in this inhumane act will not be spared!!”
Meanwhile, the incident was condemned by several leaders of Pakistan.
Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Hafiz Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi said that the public lynching had “defaced Islam”, Dawn reported.
“The elements involved in the incident have tried to damage Islamic laws and teachings,” he said. “The culprits will be punished for the barbarism.”
Pakistan’s Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari called the murder “horrific and condemnable”.
“Mob violence cannot be acceptable under any circumstance as [the] state has laws to deal with all offences,” she said in a tweet. “Punjab government’s action must and will be firm and unambiguous.”
In Pakistan, blasphemy or the act of speaking profanely about god or sacred things is punishable by death, according to AP.