Colombo mourns businessman lynched in Pakistan
by Melanie Manel Perera

The brutal killing of Priyantha Kumara sparked demonstrations in his home country as well. Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Ranjith: "There is no more tragic moment in the world when extremists kill people in the name of religion".

Colombo (AsiaNews) - The remains of Priyantha Kumara, the businessman killed in Silkiot, Pakistan, in recent days, arrived in Sri Lanka on a Sri Lankan Airlines flight from Lahore. Waiting for him at Bandaranaike International Airport were his wife Nilushi and other family members.

The archbishop of Colombo, Card. Malcolm Ranjith, expressed condolences and condemned the murder. "Leaders of every country must work diligently to stop the horrific atrocities perpetrated under the guise of faith," reads a written note from the cardinal. "There is no more tragic moment in the world when extremists kill people in the name of religion to achieve their personal political goals. It is an insult to all religions."

Shantha Kumara Diyawadana, Priyantha's older brother, spoke of his own grief to AsiaNews. "My brother was accused of blasphemy so that the guilty can escape the law," he said. "He who is not guilty did not even come back in one piece, but his body was returned to us in pieces. Whatever I say or do my brother is gone." 

Priyantha Kumara's remains were taken to Negombo Hospital, where an autopsy was performed. The body was then handed over to the family whom Card. Ranjith visited (see photo).

The brutal lynching of the businessman sparked protests in Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Yesterday, a dozen civil society groups staged a silent demonstration in front of Pakistan's High Commission (diplomatic mission) in Colombo. Leaders of the different religious communities delivered a letter to the Pakistani ambassador in Sri Lanka urging Islamabad to conduct an impartial investigation. In connection with the murder, the Punjab police have so far arrested more than 130 people.

Several members of the clergy then met with the Pakistani high commissioner to further discuss bilateral relations between the two countries and propose economic support for the businessman's family. Today, the Council of Ministers approved a proposal to donate 2.5 million rupees (nearly 11 million euros) to his wife and children, recognizing Kumara's contribution as a migrant worker in Pakistan, where he lived and worked for 11 years.