Sri Lanka lifts curfew in Rambukkana; investigation begins over police firing at unarmed protesters – Times of India


COLOMBO: Sri Lankan authorities on Thursday lifted the curfew imposed in the southwestern region of Rambukkana, where one person was killed and 13 others injured in violence after police opened fire on unarmed anti-government protesters demonstrating against the latest rise in violence. the fuel price.
The curfew was lifted at 5 a.m. (local time) on Wednesday, police said.
According to an official, at least three of the 14 protesters hospitalized in Rambukkana, about 90 kilometers northeast of Colombo, were critical of the Kegalle hospital. Fifteen police officers were also injured.
Foreign Minister GL Peiris told reporters: “We have requested the Human Rights Commission to conduct an impartial investigation. We want to be honest and don’t want to sweep anything under the rug.”
Chaminda Lakshan, a 41-year-old man who died of gunshot wounds, leaves behind two children.
“I want justice for my father’s death. I don’t want money or other help,” his 16-year-old daughter Piyumi Lakshani told reporters.
She said her father was not a protester and had gone out to buy gasoline for his motorcycle.
The death of a protester was the first amid ongoing protests over the worst economic crisis in the country’s history.
Top public security ministry bureaucrat Jagath Alwis said the protesters attempted to set fire to a fuel tanker containing 33,000 liters of fuel.
Police had to open fire to prevent a fuel tank from being set on fire by the protesters.
Alwis said a three-member commission of inquiry has been appointed to investigate whether police used excessive force in opening fire on protesters.
The US, EU and UN coordinator embassies have issued statements condemning the police shooting.
The latest fuel price hike on Monday night sparked street protests in many areas on Tuesday.
Oil entities on the island have regularly increased the price due to the shortage of fuel.
Kegalle Magistrate Wasana Navaratne visited the shooting scene and ordered police not to intimidate witnesses. The police had spawned one protester in the courtroom.
Meanwhile, police said a 20-member panel has been appointed to investigate the shooting incident.
In most parts of the island, protests continued against the government for mishandling the economic crisis.
The main protest at President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s secretariat will enter its 13th day on Wednesday.
Sri Lanka has been grappling with unprecedented economic turmoil since independence from Britain in 1948. The crisis is partly caused by a lack of foreign currency, which has prevented the country from paying for staple food and fuel imports, leading to acute shortages and very high Prices.
The island nation is witnessing large-scale protests against the government’s handling of its debt-ridden economy – the worst economic crisis in the country’s history.
Protests demanding the resignation of President Rajapaksa and his Sri Lanka Podujana (Peramuna)-led government have intensified as shortages persisted and prices rose.
Last week, the Sri Lankan government said it would temporarily default on $35.5 billion in foreign debt as the pandemic and war in Ukraine made it impossible to make payments to foreign creditors.

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