Photographer tells what happened
Kithsiri de Mel a photographer of the Daily Mirror, the sister paper of The Sunday Times, sustained injuries during the brawl that took place at the funeral ceremony of Ven. Gangodawila Soma Thera last Wednesday.

Ranjith Perera a photographer attached to The Sunday Times, who managed to rescue Kithsiri describing the incident said: “I had gone to cover the event, and proceeded from Maharagama to Independence Square where the cremation was to take place.

“Soon after the pyre was lit around 7:00 pm a commotion broke out among the crowd some distance away from the pyre and closer to the Sports Ministry. “A Buddhist monk who was holding a suspicious looking person by the neck was questioning him about some leaflets slandering Ven. Elle Gunawansa Thero, this person was allegedly distributing. “A policeman in the vicinity had arrived at the scene and started to argue with the monk provoking the angry crowd to beat the policeman.

The policeman had run away and the people then began beating the suspect. Kithsiri had taken some photographs of the whole incident. The crowd noticing him taking pictures had then seized him and started beating him while moving towards Torrington.

They had continued to beat him there, grabbed his camera and threw it away.
“I moved closer to where the commotion was taking place for a better look and then noticed one of my colleagues being beaten.

“I requested them to release Kithsiri showing them my Press ID and the organizing committee identity token. Thankfully the mob then released Kithsiri. “Meanwhile the police had taken the suspect into custody and had put him into the police bus. The people then started to beat the bus. Then another police unit stationed at the Sports Ministry had arrived at the vicinity and fired tear gas canisters towards the gathering near the pyre which was a short distance away from the spot where the incident took place.”

Onlookers said the police fired around 25 to 30 canisters of tear gas and had even fired towards the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute. DIG Sirisena Herath who had arrived at the place said that disciplinary action would be taken against the police personnel who had fired the tear gas.

The digital camera which Kithsiri had in his possession was valued at about Rs. 75,000. The photographer had been informed yesterday that the camera which was badly damaged was handed to Ven. Uduwe Dhammaloka .

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