quiet after violence
Three days of tension and violence in the heart
of Colombo came to an end on Friday with relative calm returning
to the city.
a high powered discussion which lasted for four hours, between Government
officials and Buddhist and Muslim clergy held at the Kettharama
Conference hall. The incidents which began over a land dispute ended
with damage to people and property, and the death of one person.
The most shocking
fact was that with the clashes breaking out civilians armed with
swords, knives, bombs and pistols exhibited the power and influence
of the underworld.
curfew clamped in the area, failed to disperse the violent crowd
who were seen freely moving about armed with weapons, while the
police helplessly looked on, did little to calm the situation.
More than thirteen
persons were injured, and many homes and shops were destroyed.
of the Maligawatte Bodirajaramaya Vihara Ven. Thanabaddegama Sobitha
alleged that the unrest erupted due to the underworld gangs operating
in and around Maligawatte.
'I have complained
to the police on previous occasions on their activities, but nothing
has been done, and finally it blew out of proportion and we all
saw the result. The violence erupted on Wednesday when a group of
people tried to construct a building for a Sunday School' said the
He said "When
we informed the police they came to the construction site with the
Colombo Divisional Secretary and Gramasevaka to stop the construction
for a certain period, despite the order they continued with the
construction, resulting in this clash."
While officials were trying to settle the dispute people armed with
swords, iron rods and petrol bombs had assaulted the onlookers.
to the police officers to calm the crowd but they failed to do so.
The police failed to take action while an unruly mob burnt tyres
and shops. They attacked a police sub-inspector and tried to chase
the police away," Ven. Sobitha Thero said.
By the time the Army and Navy arrived at the scene which was around
2.00 pm on Wednesday immense damage had been done to shops and vehicles.
Deputy Mayor Azad Sally claimed that the Divisional Secretary had
violated the Court order as she had no right to visit the scene
and give an order to stop work.
of underworld gangs has been in existence for many years with the
assistance of the police. These gangs are also involved in drug
peddling, taking bribes and operating torture chambers. This makes
it obvious that even a small issue can spark off a clash. I blame
the police for all this because they act very partially towards
the gangs, so when such an incident takes place, the gangs take
the upper hand."
25 the Colombo Additional Magistrate Aravinda Perera gave the order
in favour of another group. The Buddhist priest who consulted the
NHDA stated that it is state property.
Aussie aid gives new life for child
By Marisa de Silva
As a further step towards conflict resolution the
Australian Government has decided to donate funds for re-integrating
child soldiers into the community.
A sum of 400,000
Australian dollars will be channeled into this project which would
provide counseling services, geared to the needs of each child combatant.
It will be
carried out in collaboration with the international program for
Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC), the ILO, NGOs and civil society.
Manager IPEC, Ms. Sharma Salgado told The Sunday Times that, these
children would not be given any special treatment as that would
only make them feel isolated from society. "They will be treated
like any other person in the community. While the younger children
will be taught according to the usual school curriculum or by specially
trained personnel. If necessary they will be diverted to non formal
educational programmes. The older children will undergo vocational
training in skills that match currently available job opportunities,
so that the knowledge gained would be put to practical use,"
she said .