Lanka furious over Lord’s attacks

By Leon Berenger

The Sri Lankan High Commission in Britain has formally lodged a protest with the Home Office in London over what it termed ‘lethargy’ by the local police in dealing with pro-LTTE elements who physically attacked more than two dozen Sri Lankan cricket fans , including women, after the T20 World Cup final at Lords last Sunday.

Victims, including women, said they were kicked and punched in the face by these persons inside the precincts of Lord's, the acknowledged 'home of cricket. The victims targeted were mainly those wearing the Sri Lanka Cricket tee-shirts. Two of the victims were a Sri Lankan doctor and his Indian wife, also a doctor.

These attacks came against the backdrop of continuing harassment of the Sri Lankan national team by pro-LTTE groups in almost all the venues they played in England during the tournament. The LTTE, which was militarily wiped out in Sri Lanka last month, is a banned terrorist organisation in Britain.

A High Commission spokesperson the told The Sunday Times via telephone from London that nearly two dozen Sri Lankan spectators were roughed up and some had even sought medical treatment at the local hospitals following the attacks which took place in the presence of the British police.

The police for their part had responded by saying that the pro-LTTE protests had been approved by the local authorities and, therefore, there was little they could do, the spokesperson said.

He said High Commissioner Nihal Jayasinghe had sought an urgent meeting with representatives of the Sri Lankan community on Tuesday to discuss the matter before taking the issue up with the local authorities on an official level.

The victims in the alleged attacks were told by the Lankan Mission to collect whatever evidence such as copies of complaints made to the local police in order to present a stronger case to the authorities, he said.

The expatriate community had also been advised to remain alert at all times since pro-LTTE activists and thugs were planning similar attacks at events involving Sri Lanka, he said.

In the case at Lords the pro-LTTE lobby had expected some 100,000 people to attend the protest, but only about 10,000 or so turned up, he added.

“This goes to prove that support for the pro-LTTE lobby is on the decline since the elimination of the Tamil Tiger leadership a month ago. The pro-LTTE lobby is not getting the support it once had when the Tigers were active in Sri Lankas north”, the spokesperson added.

Meanwhile, the organizers planning a cricket carnival on July 12 in London have also expressed concern for safety following the incidents at Lord’s. The event has been organized by past pupils of leading schools in Sri Lanka.

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