Sri Lanka declared a state of emergency to quell communal tensions

Vastavam web: Sri Lanka today declared a state of emergency for 10 days to rein in the spread of communal violence between majority Sinhala and minority Muslims in the country’s scenic Kandy district that left two persons dead and damaged several mosques and homes.Violence, triggered by the death of a Sinhalese man at the hands of a mob last week, erupted yesterday in the Theldeniya area of the central hill district popular with tourists. The government sent troops and elite police commandoes to Kandy to restore order and enforce the curfew.A Gazette notification would be issued right away after the President signs the proclamation, giving effect to the state of emergency, he said.

Muslims claimed that around 10 mosques, 75 shops and 32 houses belonging to the minority community were badly damaged in the attacks by the Sinhalese Buddhists, forcing police to fire tear gas shells and impose an overnight curfew to prevent clashes between the two communities.Fresh curfew was imposed today and heavily-armed police commandos of special task force were deployed in Theldeniya and Pallekele areas of Kandy after rioters disobeyed an overnight curfew and went on a rampage.

This will be the first time since August 2011, that a state of emergency will be in force in the Indian Ocean’s island nation.The state of emergency allows the deployment troops on the street, search and arrest people without a warrant.”We decided to take strong action to control the situation and to deal strongly with all wrong doers,” senior minister Rauff Hakeem, who is also the leader of the main Muslim party Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), told reporters.

The violence was sparked off by the death of a Sinhalese man who was assaulted by the three Muslims over a private dispute.According to police, on February 22, the man was admitted to a hospital following an attack, where he succumbed to his injuries on March 3, after which the attackers arrested and were remanded to police custody till tomorrow.The Sinhalese are a mainly Buddhist ethnic group making up nearly three-quarters of Sri Lanka’s 21 million people, while Muslims are just 10 per cent of the country’s population.Meanwhile, the BCCI said that the Tri-nation T20 series in Sri Lanka, also involving the Indian cricket team, will continue despite the country plunging into a state of emergency following communal violence.