Ex-PM Mahinda Rajapaksa faces calls for arrest as Sri Lanka violence claims 8 lives

Agencies
May 10, 2022

Colombo, May 10: Sri Lanka's former prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa is facing calls for his arrest from Opposition politicians for inciting violence against peaceful anti-government protesters that claimed at least eight lives, left over 200 people injured and saw arson attacks on the homes of several politicians.

Mahinda Rajapaksa, 76, resigned as Sri Lankan Prime Minister on Monday amid unprecedented economic turmoil, hours after his supporters attacked anti-government protesters, prompting authorities to impose a nationwide curfew and deploy Army troops in the capital.

The resignation of the prime minister has automatically annulled the Cabinet and the country is currently being run by his younger brother and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Mahinda Rajapaksa has been accused by the Opposition of inciting the ruling party mobs to attack peaceful protesters by making a defiant speech while addressing several thousands of his supporters to deflect calls for his resignation.

“Rajapaksa (Mahinda) must be arrested and brought before the law," M A Sumanthiran, the main Tamil legislator, said in a message.

The same sentiments were expressed by former President Maithripala Sirisena and the main Opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya party's leader Ranjith Madduma Bandara.

“He must be arrested for encouraging violence. There was no reason to attack the peaceful protesters," Sirisena said.

At least eight people were killed in the violence. The Colombo national hospital said at least 217 people had been admitted for treatment.

One of the protesters who had been brutally assaulted by the Rajapaksa supporters remains in a very critical condition.

Mahinda Rajapaksa later resigned, saying he was making way for his brother president Gotabaya Rajapaksa to set up an all-party interim government.

There were reports from all parts of the island of arson attacks on the homes of ruling party politicians, including on the ancestral house of the Rajapaksa family in the deep southern district of Hambantota.

Meanwhile, Mahinda Rajapaksa vacated the Temple Trees, the official residence of the prime minister, Tuesday morning, according to media reports.

The police on Monday used tear gas and fired in the air to stop a mob which was trying to break into Temple Trees, the office cum residence of the prime minister.

An all-island curfew, which was scheduled to be lifted on Tuesday, was extended last night until Wednesday as arson attacks were reported from most parts of the country.

Army chief General Shavendra Silva called for calm and said the necessary action would be taken to maintain law and order.

In the current state of emergency, the troops are given extensive powers to arrest people.

The Opposition parties urged the reconvening of Parliament before the scheduled date of May 17.

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena also requested the President to immediately summon Parliament.

The trade unions announced that they would launch a continuous strike from Tuesday to protest against the government-backed crackdown on the peaceful protests.

The violence occurred as pressure mounted on the embattled government led by President Gotabaya to form an interim administration to overcome the worst economic crisis facing the country.

Sri Lanka is currently in the throes of unprecedented economic turmoil since its independence from Britain in 1948. The crisis is caused in part by a lack of foreign currency, which has meant that the country cannot afford to pay for imports of staple foods and fuel, leading to acute shortages and very high prices.

Thousands of demonstrators have hit the streets across Sri Lanka since April 9 seeking the resignation of President Gotabaya and Prime Minister Mahinda, as the government ran out of money for vital imports; prices of essential commodities have skyrocketed and there are acute shortages in fuel, medicines and electricity supply.

In a special Cabinet meeting on Friday, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa declared a state of emergency with effect from Friday midnight. This is the second time that an emergency was declared in Sri Lanka in just over a month as the island nation was in the grip of the worst economic crisis.

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News Network
May 5,2022

Heavy rains accompanied by gusty winds claimed uprooted several trees across in parts of Karnataka including Hubballi on Wednesday.

The short spell of rain also claimed a life in Hubballi. Robin Marosh (33), who was travelling in an autorickshaw, died after a huge tree fell on the moving vehicle near Desai Circle. The driver of the auto sustained minor injuries.

Two passengers in a car behind the auto had a miraculous escape after a tree branch fell on their vehicle. Power supply was disrupted as electricity poles were uprooted in several areas.

Meanwhile, a woman and her son were struck dead by lightning in Megalahatti village of Molakalmuru taluk, Chitradurga district. The deceased have been identified as Marakka and Venkatesh.

They were returning home with their flock of sheep when it started raining. The two took shelter beneath a tree when they were struck by lightning.

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News Network
May 8,2022

Bengaluru, May 8: Leader of Opposition in the Karnataka Assembly Siddaramaiah on Sunday hit out at Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai alleging that he is not an elected CM, and was appointed to the coveted post in exchange for money.

The allegation comes days after senior BJP MLA Basanagouda Patil Yatnal's claims that he was approached by some people, offering the state chief minister's position, in exchange for Rs 2,500 crore. 

The Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader even alleged that Bommai is only following RSS' instructions, as they have made him the chief minister. "Basavaraj Bommai is not an elected Chief Minister, he is an appointed Chief Minister, so he is not doing anything. He has given money and become Chief Minister, why will he work? RSS has made him Chief Minister, following their instructions is enough for him," Siddaramaiah alleged.

Speaking at an event, the former Chief Minister said this government has not been able to give even a single house for the needy in four years and questioned as to whether should such a government continue. 

"They (BJP government) should be ashamed...as Chief Minister for five years, I had constructed 15 lakh houses," he claimed. Congress leaders have been questioning Bommai, whether he became CM by giving money after Yatnal's recent claim of being approached by some people, offering the state Chief Minister's position, in exchange for Rs 2,500 crore.

Yatnal, a former Union minister, however, has not named anyone, but has only said there are such "fraud" companies. Congress has demanded an inquiry into these claims.

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News Network
May 13,2022

jamiamasjid.jpg

Mysuru, May 13: At a time when the Gyanvapi mosque row in Varanasi triggered a debate about whether mosques were built over temples all over the country, the Jamia mosque in Srirangapatna town in Karnataka's Mandya district has yet again come into the eye of the storm.

The saffronite hate brigade has been trying to convert Srirangapatna into Karnataka's Ayodhya. The ruling BJP has been making attempts to make inroads in the prosperous district, which greatly impacts state politics.

Sources said that with Hindutva outfits taking up the issue, the party is aiming to reap rich electoral success in the region which is presently considered as the bastion of JD(S). Srirangapatna in Mandya district is considered to be a stronghold of the dominant Vokkaliga community.

The management of the mosque has made repeated appeals to the district authorities to protect the mosque from being harmed by communal hate mongers.

Rishi Kumar Swami of Kali mutt claimed on Thursday that the Jamia mosque in Srirangapatna was built on the site of a Hanuman temple, which was razed to make way for the mosque. 

"There are emblems of the erstwhile Hoysala kingdom inside the mosque," he claimed.

A campaign on this would be launched during the upcoming Hanuman Jayanti, Swami said.

He also claimed that the temple was built before the rule of the Mysuru kings.

"During the rule of Tipu Sultan, the Hanuman temple was converted into a mosque. There is clinching evidence to prove that the mosque was a Hindu temple once," Swami claimed.

He further claimed that the temple was destroyed in 1784.

Swam was arrested in January this year on charges of giving a call to demolish the mosque. He had demanded that the mosque be closed until it is decided whether it was a temple before. He is out on bail now.

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