Sri Lankan man lynched and burnt for alleged blasphemy in Pakistan

Videos shows mob beating victim before setting his body on fire while chanting slogans of hardline party

The scene where a Sri Lankan factory manager was lynched by mob outside a factory in Sialkot, Pakistan. AP Photo

A Sri Lankan factory manager in Pakistan was on Friday beaten to death and set ablaze by a mob in an incident apparently linked to accusations of blasphemy.

Police said incident took place in Sialkot, about 200 kilometres south-east of the capital Islamabad.

Video shared on social media showed a mob beating the prone victim while chanting slogans against blasphemy. Some footage showed his body set on fire, as well as the overturned wreckage of what was said to be his car.

Many in the crowd made no attempt to hide their identity and some took selfies in front of the burning body.

"I am extremely shocked at the horrific Sialkot incident," Punjab provincial chief minister Usman Buzdar tweeted.

"No one is allowed to take law in their hands. Rest assured, individuals involved in this inhumane act will not be spared!!"

Punjab police said they would investigate the incident.

Police officers guard a morgue where the body of a Sri Lankan man was kept after he was lynched by a mob in Sialkot, Pakistan. AP Photo

Blasphemy carries the death penalty in Pakistan, where even an accusation of insulting Islam is often enough to provoke mob violence. International and domestic rights groups say that accusations of blasphemy have often been used to intimidate religious minorities and settle personal scores.

The slogans chanted in videos of the attack on Friday were the same used by supporters of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP). The party has paralysed the country with protests in the past, including last year after the Paris-based satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo republished cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.

On Sunday thousands of people torched a police station in north-western Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province after demanding officers hand over a man accused of burning the Quran.

In April 2017 a mob lynched university student Mashal Khan when he was accused of posting blasphemous content online.

A Christian couple was lynched then burnt in a kiln in Punjab in 2014 after being falsely accused of desecrating the Quran.

A Punjab governor was shot and killed by his own guard in 2011 after he defended a Christian woman, Aasia Bibi, who was accused of blasphemy. She was acquitted after spending eight years on death row and left Pakistan for Canada to join her family.

Updated: December 3rd 2021, 1:30 PM