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Lanka Prez removes PM Wickremesinghe as law and order minister after communal riots

Press Trust of India  |  Colombo 

Sri Lankan today replaced as the law and order amidst fresh violence between majority Sinhala Buddhists and minority Muslims in the district despite imposition of nationwide emergency.

Ranjith Madduma Bandara, a from Wickremesinghe's was sworn in this morning as the new in charge of the police.

Wickremesinghe's 11-day tenure as the was marred by racial tension in the central district of since Monday.

Muslim owned businesses and religious sites came under attack from majority Sinhala mobs, forcing the government to enforce curfew.

The yesterday suspended and blocked access to and messaging platforms like in the riot-hit areas.

Following the incidents of violence, on Tuesday declared a state of emergency and deployed police in the area.

A daytime curfew was relaxed today in where three people were killed in riots.

"In accordance with the people's request to remove the curfew for a short period to attend their essential activities including purchasing of and other items, has decided to remove the curfew from 10:00 am and re-impose at 6:00 pm in the Kandy district," of Government Information Sudarshana Gunawardhana said in a statement.

The of the main Tamil party R Sampanthan questioned the inaction of in response to the attacks on Muslim establishments.

Speaking in parliament, Sampanthan, who is also the of the Opposition, said such incidents are clearly unacceptable and is indicative of sense of impunity.

"People seem to have the confidence that they can engage in such acts and that the arm of the law would not reach them; that the Rule of Law would not be enforced against them," Sampanthan said.

Kandy, the country's second largest with a population of around 125,000, is an important religious center for Buddhists, and is home to numerous monasteries and temple complexes.

Sinhalese Buddhists make up about 75 per cent of the population in Kandy.

The violence in Kandy reportedly triggered by an isolated incident on March 4, when a taxi carrying four Muslim men collided with a van driven by a young Buddhist man, according to local police.

The Buddhist man was assaulted with an iron bar and succumbed to his in hospital, police confirmed.

The four Muslim men have since been arrested and remain in police custody.

Tensions between Muslim groups and the majority Sinhalese Buddhist community in the country have escalated since the end of the civil war in May 2009.

In 2014, violence directed against Muslim minority groups broke out in the southwestern town of Aluthgama, following a rally by hardline Buddhist nationalist monks, resulting in the death of at least three Muslims.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, March 08 2018. 12:35 IST