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Sri Lankan military advisor blames rise of Taliban for Sialkot lynching

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Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has urged Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan to deliver justice to the slain manager (Photo: IANS)

Rohan Gunaratna, Director General of Sri Lankan military think tank--Institute of National Security Studies (INSS), has said that the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan has strengthened religious radical groups and terror outfits in South Asia.

Gunaratna told The Hindu newspaper that the Sialkot lynching--in which a Sri Lankan national was beaten and burnt to death in Pakistan--was the result of the spread of "Salafi-Wahhabism in the region".

He added that the religious radical ideology and the terror groups in South Asia need to be contained and eliminated. Gunaratna spoke with The Hindu at the Indian Ocean Conference in the UAE.

On Friday, a mob of factory workers in Sialkot murdered Priyantha Kumara, a Sri Lankan national who had been working in Pakistan for nearly 10 years. Reportedly, some workers levelled allegations that Kumara, the export manager in a garment factory, had torn a poster with Quranic verses in the factory premises. As the allegation spread, men gathered and beat up Kumara, after which they set his body alight.

Investigations reveal that the Sri Lankan national was beaten so brutally that almost all of his bones were broken.

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Meanwhile, the Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) president Mian Imran Akbar told The Friday Times that ‘personal vendetta’ by some workers may have led to the killing of Kumara.

In a statement, Akbar said: “Studying the details of the case, it was found that Priyantha was a thorough professional known for his stern production standards and that the personal vendetta on part of some labourers in the garb of alleged religious tilt led to the lynching and torching”.

The Pakistani civil society has condemned the incident and urged the Imran Khan government to curb violent incidents related to blasphemy and rein in radical elements in the society.

The brutality of the Sialkot lynching has shaken Sri Lanka where the government at the highest levels has condemned the incident.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa tweeted: "Shocking to see the brutal and fatal attack on Priyantha Diyawadana by extremist mobs in Pakistan. My heart goes out to his wife and family. Sri Lanka and her people are confident that PM Imran Khan will keep to his commitment to bring all those involved to justice".

On Sunday, Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa and Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga visited the slain man's family.

The Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry has requested an investigation report from its Pakistani counterpart.

It added that it is trying to bring back Kumara's body to Sri Lanka on Monday. 

In a media statement, the Sri Lankan foreign ministry said: "The human remains of   Diyawadanage Don Nandasiri Priyantha Kumara who was killed by a mob in Sialkot area in Pakistan on 03 December 2021 will be despatched to Sri Lanka on 06 December 2021 through Sri Lankan Airlines at state cost".