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JHU joins call to lift social media ban

Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Wednesday, 14 March 2018 00:00


  • Asserts Police are duty bound to reveal political elements behind riots in Kandy
  • Calls for greater transparency of investigations to reassure public  
  • Insists stronger engagement by law enforcement needed to rebuild inter-communal harmony

Skandha Gunasekara

The Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) yesterday became the latest party to call for the lifting of the social media ban, pointing out the time for such extreme measures was past, but urged law enforcement authorities to be transparent in their investigations and reassure the public that their concerns over the need to crack down on extremists were being heeded.  

“We agree with the Government’s initial decision to block social media sites. India blocked various telecommunication services, particularly SMS, to stop Hindu-Muslim riots after the bombing in Pune. In extreme circumstances such extreme measures must be taken,” Megapolis and Western Development Minister Champika Ranawaka, who is also the JHU General Secretary, told reporters. 

However, the Minister urged the Government to lift the ban as the unrest had settled.

“Now that the chaos has subsided and the situation has normalised, the block should be lifted. Nevertheless, the Government must take stringent measures to prevent such incidents from reoccurring.” 

He then called on the Police to provide information on its investigations as soon as possible, insisting that greater engagement and transparency was essential to rebuild inter-communal harmony and restore faith in law enforcement authorities. 

During the worst communal clashes since Aluthgama in 2014, about 465 houses, shops and businesses had been torched and vandalised by marauding mobs in the Kandy District, according to the Police. Allegations of Police and STF standing by while attacks took place had been reported during the last week, though this was officially denied by Police.         

“We urge the Police to reveal the identities of those who have been arrested in connect with the riots. They must also reveal any links between these extremist groups and politicians. They must dispel all rumours and gossip making the people more suspicious. The media is going to town with various baseless allegations making the situation worse. The Police have a responsibility to make a disclosure about their findings regarding those who orchestrated these riots and reassure the public,” the Minister said. 

Referring to the rise in extremists groups such as the Mahason Balakaya, the Minister said that these movements were being used as political tools. 

“Authorities must probe and find out the political elements behind the communal unrest being caused. These culprits are using it to further their political careers.” 

The Minister insisted that he believed the Opposition was behind the attacks but did not mention a specific party during his statements.  

“We clearly say that those behind the Teldeniya and Digana incidents have direct links to members of Opposition political parties. The Police must investigate and identify the culprits.”

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