The Sri Lankan government has decided to declare a nation-wide emergency for a period of 10 days to control the law and order situation following the outbreak of violence against the minority community in its central district, Kandy.
The decision was taken during a cabinet meeting chaired by President Maithripala Sirisena on March 6, 2018.
• The decision comes as curfew was re-imposed in two police divisions of Kandy district following clashes between majority Sinhalese Buddhists and minority Muslims.
• The district has witnessed days of unrest between the two religious communities with a Buddhist man being killed and Muslim businesses set ablaze.
• Several houses and business establishments belonging to minority Muslim community in Kandy were burnt on March 5.
• Incidents of riots and arson attacks were also reported over the weekend in Kandy district.
• The violence is reportedly spreading slowly to other areas as well.
According to the Sri Lankan police, special security arrangements have been put in place in the areas and Special Task Force (STF) has also been deployed to maintain peace.
The Sri Lankan government has decided to take stern action against people who are instigating violence through Facebook and other social media platforms.
More than two dozen suspects have been detained by police in connection with the spate of arson attacks, while senior officers also launched an investigation into the conduct of the police.
• Tension has been growing between the two communities in Sri Lanka over the past year, with some hardline Buddhist groups accusing the Muslim minority community of forcing people to convert to Islam and vandalizing Buddhist archaeological sites.
• Some Buddhist nationalists in Sri Lanka have also protested against the presence of Muslim Rohingya asylum-seekers in the nation.
• Violence in Kandy district is the second such incident over the past couple of weeks after Ampara in eastern province witnessed similar attacks last month.
• In February 2018, five people were wounded and several shops and a mosque were damaged during a clash between the two religious groups.
• Some observers blame the nationalist Buddhist organisation Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) group for the ongoing violence.
• In June 2014, an anti-Muslim campaign was launched following the deadly Aluthgama riots, in which Sinhala Buddhist mobs targeted the Muslim population in the southern coastal towns of Aluthgama and Beruwala.
In the past too, Sri Lanka has borne the brunt of the worst religious and ethnic clashes. The country is home to majority Buddhist Sinhalese who make up for nearly 75 per cent of the total population, followed by Hindus who account for 13 per cent of the population and then Muslims, who account for just 10 per cent of the population.
The announcement comes hours before the first match of the triangular Nidahas Trophy, in which the Indian cricket team would be facing Sri Lanka at Colombo’s Premadasa Stadium.
The Nidahas Trophy marks 70 years of Sri Lankan Independence. The triangular series also features Bangladesh.
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