The lynching of Priyantha Kumara was described by premier Imran Khan as a day of shame for Pakistan, but such shameful days galore in recent history of Punjab, which dominates the ill-conceived state.
Punjabi extremists taking selfies near the burning body of Priyantha Kumara Friday.
“I am aghast over the heart wrenching slaying in my home town,” said an 18-year-old gay guy from Sialkot, who plans to defend gay rights in Pakistan. “I don’t know where these violent people come from.”
If the young Punjabi gay was distraught, the likes of Bulleh Shah, Shah Hussain, Baba Fareed and Sultan Bahu who preached humanism through their Sufi poetry must be turning in their graves as their beloved “land of five rivers”—Punjab— sank to new depths of savagery Friday.
The videos and pictures of Friday’s lynching of Priyantha Kumara, general manager of a factory producing sports goods in Punjab, the stronghold of Pakistan army, are gut wrenching.
Kumara’s fault: removing and rubbishing a poster of the Tehrik Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) at the factory he managed in Sialkot, center of sports manufacturing industry in Pakistan. The killing has rightly outraged people all over the world.
The victim seemed unaware of the country’s history of being born with the birth defect of religious hatred in its blood, which was further augmented during the military rule of Islamist army general Ziaul Haq. When Kumara decided to go to Pakistan, his wife tried to dissuade him and asked him to go to another country or stay in Sri Lanka, but he had reportedly responded, “Whether it’s Sri Lanka or Pakistan, both countries are same for me. People in Pakistan are nice and very loving. You don’t worry.”
According to a report in The Pakistan Frontier newspaper, “The factory was scheduled to host some foreign visitors from international companies. Following the visit, the manager had asked the workers to remove the stickers of TLP from the walls and machines of the factory.
The report said refusal of the workers to remove the stickers turned into a bone of contention between the workers and the manager that culminated into his killing.
This was not the first incident of its kind in Punjab. In 2014, a Christian couple Shahzad Masih and Shama Shahzad, was burned alive in Punjab on the same charge of blasphemy but the accused were ordered to be freed by a court.
The TLP activists who carried out Kumara’s lynching enjoy state patronage in Pakistan. The extremist party was formed by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to counter the Pakistan Muslim League of former premier Mian Nawaz Sharif, who now lives in exile in London, UK. A serving general of Pakistan army was seen giving money to TLP activists few years ago. The state of Pakistan has, meanwhile, laid prostrate as the TLP has gone on the rampage from time to time in the last few years, even killing a number of policemen.
“Yesterday's gruesome murder is another heinous example of the seeds we have sown for decades. As a representative from Sialkot, my deepest condolences are with the family of Priyantha Kumara. Hang my head in shame, and pray the criminals face justice. May we soon stem this rot…” said Khawaja Asif, who is a member of the Pakistan’s National Assembly from Sialkot and a leader of the Pakistan Muslim League.
Sialkot, where the dastardly lynching took place, has a long history of communal bigotry that can be traced to the 1947 Partition Holocaust when a million Punjabis, including Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs, were killed; eight million Muslims left East Punjab and six million Hindus and Sikhs left West Punjab, in opposite directions.
Comrade Dhanwantri, who was a close friend of Indian freedom fighter from Punjab, Bhagat Singh, and communist leader PC Joshi write in their booklet Bleeding Punjab Warns that “Muslim women were stripped naked and made to parade in the streets of Amritsar. There was even public raping of women. Women’s breasts [were] cut off and Muslim children’s heads have been displayed on spearheads. [In retaliation], in the streets of Sialkot, Sikh and Hindu women were paraded naked in public and mass raping took place the same as was in Amritsar. The same [atrocities] were repeated in Sheikhupura, Pakistan.”
It’s strange but true that the Punjabis hatred towards their own kith and kin has no bounds: a man can today get killed in Punjab for no reason but for being an Ahmadi, a Muslim sect declared heretics in Pakistan. The killing of Punjab governor Salman Taseer, just for defending an innocent Christian woman Aasia Bibi against the false charge of blasphemy, showed the deep roots of bigotry. But what stunned the world was millions of Punjabis showed up to mourn the hanging of his killer, Mumtaz Qadri.
Religious bigotry in Punjab, fueled by the British divide and rule policy in 1947, has not remained limited to Punjab; the military-mullah alliance in Punjab has ravaged lands, both far and near.
Imagine Bengali girls working in the fields of Bangladesh. Tens of thousands of these girls were attacked and raped by Punjabi soldiers more than a thousand miles away from Punjab in East Pakistan; coupled with the massacre of three million Bengalis, the war crimes of Pakistan culminated in the establishment of Bangladesh. Pakistan has yet to apologize for its war crimes in former East Pakistan with the golden jubilee of Bangladesh freedom is just ten short days away on December 16.
A similar situation prevails in Balochistan. Thousands of Baloch have been killed and the fate of at least 5,000 victims of enforced disappearances remains unknown ever since Pakistan army launched a military crackdown under Gen Pervez Musharraf in Balochistan. Badly mutilated bodies of scores of Baloch activists were dumped in Balochistan. In one case, Pakistan soldiers burned Baloch freedom fighters alive in coal tar. Cries of families of those forcibly disappeared in Balochistan have gone unheard and more youths are being forcibly disappeared even now— on Friday three students were disappeared from Gwadar.
In neighboring Afghanistan, the Taliban have pushed the country into Stone Age largely due to the backing of the same Punjabi Islamist mindset that dominates the Rawalpindi GHQ and the Aabpara headquarters of the ISI in Islamabad.
Pakistan’s playboy cricketer-turned-premier Imran Khan, who is called “selected” by his opponents because the army backed him in the 2018 elections that brought him into power through the back door, expressed shame over the incident. “The horrific vigilante attack on factory in Sialkot & the burning alive of Sri Lankan manager is a day of shame for Pakistan. I am overseeing the investigations & let there be no mistake all those responsible will be punished with full severity of the law. Arrests are in progress,” he tweeted.
But Khan, who belongs to Punjab, himself is a big supporter of Muslim bestiality, both past and present. He has been nicknamed Taliban Khan because of his support to the extremists in Afghanistan and his list of Muslim heroes include Tamerlane, an infamous 14th century warlord and tyrant from Central Asia.