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Pakistan: Top award for man who tried to save Sri Lankan from lynching

31st Dec 2021

Elham Asaad Buaras

The Prime Minister of Pakistan announced that a man who risked his life in the effort to save a 49-year-old. Sri Lankan factory manager from a frenzied mob in Punjab province is to be given the country’s top civilian award.

Malik Adnan, a colleague of the murdered Sri Lankan national Priyantha Diyawadana, will be awarded Tamgha-i-Shujaa [the medal of bravery] for “endangering his own life by physically trying to shield the victim,” announced Imran Khan on December 5.

He tried to prevent him from being lynched by an angry mob on December 3, over blasphemy allegations.Diyawadana, who had been working in Pakistan since 2010, was beaten to death and his body burned by a mob in Sialkot.

Videos circulating on social media showed Adnan physically shielding Diyawadana in an attempt to save him from the mob. He, however, eventually backed down as the hundreds-strong mob overwhelmed him.

“On behalf of the nation, I want to salute the moral courage and bravery of Malik Adnan who tried his utmost to shelter and save Priyantha Diyawadana from the vigilante mob in Sialkot including endangering his own life by physically trying to shield the victim. We will award him the Tamgha-i-Shujaat,” Khan said.

Khan had earlier expressed his disbelief and anger at the lynching saying, “The vigilante attack on a factory in Sialkot and the burning alive of a Sri Lankan manager is a day of shame for Pakistan. I am overseeing the investigations and let there be no mistakes, all those responsible will be punished with the full severity of the law. Arrests are being made”.

Meanwhile, the Punjab police identified and arrested six more of the main alleged culprits involved in the lynchin, bringing the total number of arrests to 124.

Over 900 protesters have been booked under terrorism charges, with officials promising punishment for all those responsible. A highly sensitive issue in the Muslim-majority country, blasphemy charges carry a death penalty in Pakistan, but many people have been killed by mobs without their cases making it to court.

Rights groups believe Pakistan’s blasphemy law is often used to settle personal scores against religious minorities.

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