The Pakistani prime minister announced on Sunday the top civilian award for a man who risked his life while trying to save Priyantha Diyawadana, a Sri Lankan factory manager, from being lynched by an angry mob over blasphemy allegations.
Malik Adnan, a colleague of the slain Sri Lankan citizen, will be awarded Tamgha-i-Shujaat, or the medal of bravery for "endangering his own life by physically trying to shield the victim," Imran Khan said on Twitter.
Diyawadana was beaten to death and his body burned by a mob in Sialkot, a city in Pakistan's northeastern Punjab province, on Friday.
Videos circulating on social media showed Adnan physically shielding the Sri Lankan in an attempt to save him from the vigilante mob.
He, however, had to give in as the mob comprising hundreds of charged protesters overpowered him.
"On behalf of the nation, I want to salute moral courage & bravery of Malik Adnan who tried his utmost to shelter & save Priyantha Diyawadana from the vigilante mob in Sialkot incl endangering his own life by physically trying to shield victim. We will award him Tamgha i Shujaat," Khan said.
Meanwhile, the Punjab police identified and arrested six more of the main alleged culprits involved in the lynching of the 49-year-old, 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./aa