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In damage control exercise after the lynching of Sri Lankan national, Imran Khan dials Sri Lankan President’s number

Slain Sri Lankan manager Priyantha Kumara with family (Photo: IANS)

In a damage control exercise, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan reached out to Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to assure him that justice will be done to the Sri Lankan national who was lynched by a mob in Sialkot.

Under worldwide condemnation for the lynching and burning of Priyantha Kumara, a garment factory manager, working in Pakistan for nearly a decade, Imran Khan told the Sri Lankan president that 113 people have been arrested for the murder. Kumara was beaten up by supporters of the fundamentalist Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) over allegations of blasphemy who later set his body on fire in Sialkot.

"Deeply concerned by the incident in Sialkot Pakistan. Sri Lanka trusts that PM Imran Khan and the Gvt. of Pakistan will ensure justice is served and ensure the safety of the remaining Sri Lankan workers in Pakistan," tweeted Gotabaya Rajapaksa, President of Sri Lanka.

Cabinet Minister Namal Rajapaksa termed the brutal murder by extremist mobs in Pakistan "incomprehensible".

"We should be mindful that this could happen to anyone if extremist forces are allowed to act freely," he tweeted.

The Sri Lankan foreign ministry has announced that it will bring the remains of the Sialkot victim to the country on Monday under State sponsorship.

Trade Minister Bandula Gunawardena had said the incident threatens the diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and Pakistan while MP Shantha Bandara stated that there is a growing concern over the safety of Sri Lankans in Pakistan.

President Rajapaksa made a special announcement over the murder of Kumara.

"As an ardent friend of Pakistan, Sri Lanka commends the actions taken by the Government of Pakistan led by Prime Minister Imran Khan to ensure justice, immediately after this brutal assassination. The Sri Lankan Government and the people of Sri Lanka look forward with great confidence on the future steps that will be taken by the Government of Pakistan in this regard", Rajapaksa said in his announcement.

The police in Punjab province said in its investigations that Kumara was attacked after he allegedly tore a poster of the TLP that had Koranic verses written on it. Factory workers saw him tear the poster after which word spread about blasphemy and TLP workers attacked Kumara.

Videos showed a mob of hundreds of men beating the Sri Lankan national to death and burning his body.

In a similar incident in Pakistan, the Sri Lankan cricket team had been attacked by terrorists in Lahore in 2009. The attack had left five Sri Lankan cricketers injured including the captain and vice-captain.

Allegations of blasphemy in Pakistan ignite furious violence and mob justice. Numerous cases have made it to international headlines. The Imran Khan government has, however, only given into hardline forces as it recently reached an agreement with the TLP—the group that killed Kumara.

Sri Lanka shocked after Lankan man's horrific lynching in Pakistan