Govt considers moves to block demos near HSZs


The Government is considering new emergency regulations to restrict public access to areas near high security zones in the city of Colombo. The move comes in the wake of last Thursday’s incident at Dharmapala Mawatha where Police fired water canons and baton charged Bhikku students marching towards Temple Trees.

The student-monks wanted to hand over a petition to President Mahinda Rajapaksa. A Government source who spoke on grounds of anonymity told The Sunday Times the new measures were aimed at preventing marches, protest rallies and demonstrations posing security threats within areas declared as high security zones. These include areas surrounding the Janadipathi Mandiriya, Temple Trees and the Parliament complex at Sri Jayawardenapura-Kotte.

The source said the proposed regulations would not restrict the movement of the public particularly along roads or to venues which they now frequent.

However, access to designated areas which pose a security threat would require the approval of a Competent Authority, according to proposals now under consideration. It is not immediately clear how such an authority will function and the grounds on which it will allow individuals or groups access.
The need for the new measures has been further enhanced by the upcoming South Asian summit.
Leaders of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives are being invited by the Government for the summit that will be held in Colombo. The Foreign Ministerial level meeting will begin on July 28. Thereafter the summit will be held from August 1 to 3.


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