An organised group had been behind the recent unfortunate incidents which occurred in the Kandy area, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said.
“Police have already received vital information about it. I have directed the Law and Order Minister and the IGP to conduct an urgent investigation into the matter and take necessary action about it,” the Prime Minister said.
The Prime Minister was speaking at a special discussion convened at the Kandy Kachcheri on March 10, regarding the unrest which occurred in Kandy recently.
The Prime Minister said he convened the meeting to discuss measures to pay compensation to people for the properties damaged during the clashes.
“Several factors should be taken into consideration at the discussions, including assessment of compensation payments, payment of compensation for lives lost and the programme of work to rehabilitate damaged business places,” the Prime Minister said.
According to latest statistics, 465 places of worship, houses, vehicles, business places and other institutions had suffered damage during these incidents. Of them, 87 had suffered total damage and 196 partially damaged, while another 182 suffered minor damage.
The Prime Minister said the police had already investigated the recent unrest in Ampara and Kandy.
What ought to be done was to prevent a repetition of such ugly incidents in the future,” the Preimer said.
He said investigations would not be confined to the appointment of a Commission only. The Government would go ahead with its duties and responsibilities without waiting until the Commission announced its decisions.
The Prime Minister said investigations were also underway about certain social websites which instigated the Kandy incidents. Two students of two leading Colombo schools have also been identified during Police interrogations.
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said incidents of this nature would not recur only if punishments were meted out to the wrongdoers. If this was not done there world be a repetition of such incidents. As such the law should be strictly implemented against the wrongdoers, irrespective of their status of position.
The Prime Minister who said that these ugly incidents had tarnished the country’s image internationally added that it would take another two to three years to minimise the damage caused.
The Prime Minister said this had badly impacted on the tourism industry too. A majority of tourists visited Colombo while an equal number visited Kandy too. Although they hoped for an increase in the influx of tourists, there was doubt as to whether they could achieve that target.
“The Government had already held talks on moves to increase tourists visiting Kandy and the surrounding areas,” the Premier said.
“There would be problems if our march forward together as Sri Lankans was harmed. We should act in a manner that would not jeopardise that collective march forward. The Maha Sangha and other religious dignitaries should visit the trouble spots and educate the people. The Maha Sangha and clerics of other religions had already joined forces to assist this endeavour,” the Premier said.
The Prime Minister who said that these clashes also dealt a major blow to the sacrifices made by our War Heroes who helped end the 30-year terrorist war and unite the nation, said the declaration of a timely curfew for the entire Kandy district enabled them to restrict the incidents to only four Divisional Secretariat areas without allowing it to spread to other areas in the district.
The Prime Minister said that even though there had been shortcomings on the part of certain Police officers in enforcing Law and Order, the Police service as a whole had performed a commendable job in bringing the situation under control and he wished to thank them for it.
“The Armed Forces too had done a commendable service in this connection. Similarly, the public servants, Provincial service employees, Local Government employees, members of Civil Society, religious organisations and the Maha Sangha, as well as dignitaries of other religious too had rallied round to bring the situation back to normalcy.The government wished to thank every one of them for the assistance rendered,” the Prime Minister added.
Ministers Ranjith Maddumabandara, Lakshman Kiriella, Rauf Hakeem, M.H.A. Haleem, State Minister Ruwan Wijewardene, Parliamentarian Lucky Jayawardana, Central Province Chief Minister Sarath Ekanayake, Secretary to the Prime Minister Saman Ekanayake, Service Chiefs and several other state officials attended the discussion.