Aaj TV

Social media users are calling out Prime Minister Imran Khan on repeatedly using the word ‘vigilante’ in his tweets to describe the lynching by a mob of Sri Lankan factory manager Priyantha Kumara in Sialkot.

The premiere tweeted a condemnation of the attack on Friday which said “The horrific vigilante attack on factory in Sialkot & the burning alive of Sri Lankan manager is a day of shame for Pakistan.”

He said the perpetrators would be punished with full severity of the law.

This was the first time the prime minister used the word ‘vigilante’ in his statement.

In another tweet on Saturday he wrote, “Spoke to Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa today in UAE to convey our nation's anger & shame to people of Sri Lanka at vigilante killing of Priyantha Diyawadana in Sialkot.”

The third time Khan used ‘vigilante’ was in a tweet on Sunday in which he announced Tamgha-i-Shujaat for Malik Adnan, the man who tried to save Kumara from the mob.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, ‘vigilante is a member of a self-appointed group of citizens who undertake law enforcement in their community without legal authority, typically because the legal agencies are thought to be inadequate.’

A vigilante takes action against a perceived offense.

The repetitive use of the word ‘vigilante’ by the prime minister to refer to the Sialkot incident has irked many users on social media.

“"vigilante"? Mr. PM, the brutal attack was an act of crime, if not terrorism. They are criminals, if not terrorists,” tweeted Twitter user N.K.Ashokbharan.

“Use of 'vigilante' here means the PM's already adjudged the murdered man 'guilty' of a crime. Provision of Insaf begins,” tweeted former editor Dawn Abbas Nasir.

Journalist Zuha Siddiqui tweeted that the use of the word ‘vigilante’ is indicative of the growing power of Tehreek-i-Labaik Pakistan and the weaponization of the blasphemy law.

She also noted that the Sialkot incident isn’t an isolated occurrence. “Earlier this week, a mob burnt down a police station on Charsadda because officials refused to hand over an alleged blasphemer,” she wrote.