The Police have arrested 54 persons, including a female over the protest that was held at Pengiriwatte Road leading to the President’s private residence in Mirihana on Thursday night.
Senior Police Spokesman senior DIG Ajith Rohana said that the protest which commenced on Thursday evening was peaceful for over four hours, but some elements in the crowd had later turned violent and had caused damage to vehicles and property. Five Policemen were also injured in the incident.
The Colombo Crime Division, Western Province (South) Criminal Investigation Division together with the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) are conducting investigations into the incident that took place at Mirihana.
Senior DIG Ajith Rohana that the investigations are being carried out with the support of the Police Scene of Crime Officers (SOCO) and the Police Criminal Records Division through all the available evidence including CCTV footage in the area.
“Through these investigations it is expected to reveal if there is an involvement by outsiders to provoke the protesters who were behaving peacefully for about four hours since the evening,” he said.
He also said that investigations are underway to determine how a peaceful protest suddenly turned violent and on whose directive it happened. “Investigations are also underway regarding those taken into custody in connection with the incident and if found guilty, legal action would be taken against them.”
The damage caused to public property due to the violent situation has been estimated at Rs.39 million. “Although the Police respect the right of the public to conduct peaceful protests, they will take all possible steps to protect public property when necessary,” the Senior DIG stressed.
He said that violent protestors caused damage to four buses, a jeep belonging to the Mirihana Police, a three wheeler and two Police motorcycles. The unruly mob also set fire to an Army bus, which was completely destroyed and also damaged several other vehicles and also private property.
SSP Nihal Thalduwa yesterday said that the Police had to use minimum force to control the unruly crowd.
“We had to use tear gas and water cannon to disperse the crowd,” he said.SSP Thalduwa also noted that an ASP who was also injured in the incident is currently receiving treatment at the Colombo National Hospital. Another Police Sergeant and two Constables who were also injured in the incident are receiving treatment at the Kalubowila Hospital.
As a result of the incident that took place on Thursday night, a Police curfew was imposed from midnight on Thursday until 5 am yesterday in the Colombo North, Colombo South, Colombo Central, Nugegoda and Mount Lavinia Police Divisions in the Colombo District and Kelaniya Police Division in the Gampaha District.