By Shanika Sriyananda/DailyFT
Colombo, December 10: The 40-year-old Malik Adnan, who tried his utmost to save the life of his Sri Lankan colleague Priyantha Kumara Diyawadana (49) at Rajco Industries in Sialkot in Pakistan when a mob was lynching him, was still in shock when DailyFT spoke to him.
Malik was still grieving Priyantha’s brutal murder by the workers of the factory on December 3. Hundreds of mobsters had tortured Priyantha to death and later burned his lifeless body in public.
Following are excerpts of an exclusive interview with Malik Adnan:
Q: How long have you been working in Rajco Industries and tell us a little about yourself?
I have been working here for the last 16 years. I am from an agricultural village called Olakh Awan in Sialkot. We are four in the family, including one brother and two sisters. We lost our father in 2020 and he was in agriculture. I am working as a deputy manager of Rajco Industries. I am a graduate of the University of Punjab and have an MBA.
Q: What kind of a relationship did Priyantha Kumara have with the factory workers?
He was very nice to people but when it came to working matters, he was strict because he was a very hardworking person. He always thought the workers should also work like him.
Q: What was the response that he got from the factory workers?
They obeyed him. There was some kind of agitation among some but they didn’t show it openly in front of other managers. There are 100 managers and 2,200 workers in the factory. We are producing garments to sports gear to many other items in the apparel sector.
Q: Can you recall what happened on that fateful day?
It was at 10 a.m. Workers had pasted some posters. He was in the factory hall and was walking to his office and workers suddenly got agitated, accusing him of saying he had disregarded our religious values. They also moved to his office shouting at him and then he rushed to the rooftop, where the factory workers also followed him, shouting at him.
Q: What was written on those posters and could he read and write Urdu?
I cannot explain what they had written on the posters now. No, he couldn’t read or write Urdu.
Q: Since he couldn’t understand what was written on posters in Urdu, how could he comment about them?
Yes, he couldn’t understand what was written on them but we understood what was written there. But people started protesting against him.
Q: When he ran to the rooftop, did you go with him?
Yes, I ran with him as I wanted to save him from the commotion. At the time of the incident, people entered through the second gate of the factory, including employees of another factory and villagers.
When a large number of angry people attacked Priyantha, I went ahead and tried to dissuade them and tried to stop them but people were not ready to listen or stop the violence.
But unfortunately, I couldn’t protect him. I too got injured. There were 50 to 100 workers at the beginning. There was another person who joined me. He also begged them not to hurt him but they didn’t listen.
Q: What was your feeling when you saw the large crowd?
I thought I wanted to save that human being. He was a good leader, a good soul, a good friend and I should save him. He was working with me for a long time and was my boss. I wanted to save his life.
Q: What is the message that you have for the Pakistani people?
First understand the real value of Islam. If someone has committed a mistake, follow the law of Pakistan.
Q: Do you have a message to the Sri Lankan people who are still in shock over Priyantha’s brutal killing?
They should not destroy their friendship with Pakistani people because of this incident. We all are shocked and sad about this incident. This kind of incident should never happen again and not even in generations to come.
I am happy that I have received the bravery award as I am able to give a message to the whole world that a Pakistani has risked his life for humanity to save the image of all Pakistanis. I have dedicated the bravery award to Priyantha’s two sons and all Sri Lankan people. I would be joining the company CEO to visit Sri Lanka to visit Priyantha’s family to pay our condolences, soon.