6th December 2021
The widow of Priyantha Kumara, the Sri Lankan exports manager of a sports goods factory in Sialkot who was lynched by an enraged mob on December 3, has appealed for justice and financial compensation for her husband’s murder from the Government of Pakistan, and called for the protection of all Sri Lankans on Pakistani soil.
Speaking to the Sri Lankan English daily The Daily Mirror, Nilushi Kumara demanded answers as to why her husband was murdered so inhumanely as well as compensation so that she could at least ensure a stable future for her two sons, aged fourteen and nine.
“I am urging the Pakistani government and the Sri Lankan government for assistance and serious investigation. I worked as a teacher and have two sons who go to school. For the sake of their future… because of them I want them to look after us…” she said.
Priyantha’s charred remains were flown from Lahore to Columbo via a special flight today. According to his widow, his family is expected to receive his body for last rites on Tuesday after a post-mortem examination at a hospital in Negombo.
Requests removal of videos from social media
On Sunday, Nilushi met with Sri Lanka’s Defense Secretary Gen. (Rtd.) Kamal Gunaratne and requested the authorities intervene and remove images and videos of her husband’s lynching from social media as they were causing her and her family distress.
“I have not had the courage to see these videos as it is my husband’s final moments. I urge everyone to stop sharing these videos and pictures on social media and have sought the intervention of the Defence authorities to remove them from the internet,” she said. “My house is a mortuary right now, and people are forwarding those videos to us. We are affected by them.”
“My husband was the sole breadwinner”
Nilushi used to work as a school teacher, but quit to focus on raising her children when her husband had to move to Pakistan for work. As such, Priyantha was the sole breadwinner for his family.
He had been working in Pakistan for the past eleven years, and for the last nine of those years was an employee of the sports goods factory in Sialkot whose employees murdered for alleged ‘blasphemy’ and then set his body on fire.
Nilushi firmly rejects the allegations against her late husband, stating that he was a good man who understood the well-being of his colleagues and employees.
“He worked in Pakistan for eleven years, and he knew the culture and the behavior of the people in Pakistan. He was a very good and disciplined man. He knew how to live [properly] and was innocent,” she said. “He never said anything that would hurt someone’s feelings and always thought of their well-being. For nine years he worked in that factory. If he had any issue, he would not have worked there for so many years.”
“He was not crazy that he would tear down those posters”
When asked if she knew the reason why her husband was attacked, Nilushi said she was unsure of the specific details, however from what she had gathered from the news, Priyantha had allegedly torn down posters containing Quranic verses put up by employees of the factory.
“Some say he tore a poster, but he was not crazy to do such a thing. He knew of the Pakistani people’s religion…” she stated. “If I had known he faced any danger there, I would never have let him go.”
Malik Adnan, Priyantha’s colleague who had tried to save him from the mob, confirmed to media that the deceased man did not know Urdu or Arabic and therefore could not have known what was written on the posters he was accused of tearing down.
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday announced that the Tamgha-i-Shujaat (Medal of Bravery) will be conferred on Malik Adnan for his extraordinary courage.
Nilushi called on the Sri Lankan government to ensure justice for her husband’s murder, urging that his case not be swept under the rug, and appealed to the Pakistani government for a thorough investigation so that she and her family can have some closure.
“I do not want this case to be closed before it can reach its logical conclusion.”