Sirisena appoints panel to probe Kandy violence
Posted on March 11th, 2018

Meera Srinivasan Courtesy The Hindu

Though curfew imposed in the district was lifted early in the day, it may be re-imposed depending on the situation

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on Saturday appointed a panel to probe the recent anti-Muslim attacks in Kandy district.

The committee, of three retired judges, will investigate the causes of the incident that claimed at least two lives and severely damaged property, official sources said.

Curfew lifted for now

A curfew imposed in the district was lifted early Saturday, but a decision on possibly re-imposing it would be taken after reviewing the security situation in the affected areas, police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera told local media.

Towns including Digana, Akurana and Katugastota in Kandy witnessed sudden attacks on mosques and Muslim-owned shops and homes last week. The arson, carried out by Sinhalese mobs, followed the death of a Sinhalese man who died of injuries following an altercation with a group of Muslim youth over a road-rage incident.

Amid spiralling violence in Kandy, Mr. Sirisena declared a State of Emergency on Tuesday to prevent escalation. Authorities blocked social media networks including Facebook, Viber and Whatsapp for three days, justifying the move as one aimed at preventing panic and further tensions. The services were not restored till Saturday evening.

Hardliners arrested

The police and army, who locals accused of inaction during the days of violence, have been stationed in the district. So far about 150 people, including key suspect Amith Weerasinghe, from the hard-line Sinhala Buddhist group Mahasona Balakaya, have been arrested, police said.

Following a visit to Kandy on Saturday, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said the government will pay full compensation for property damaged in the attacks.

The recent violent episode has sparked concern among many Sri Lankans who see the incidents as part of a growing anti-Muslim sentiment in the country since 2012. Activists and Buddhist monks staged demonstrations in Colombo on Friday condemning the violence against the Muslim minority and asking the government to end impunity for such attacks.

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