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
June 29,2022

Jaipur, June 29: Preliminary investigation into the gruesome killing of a tailor in Udaipur revealed that one of the two prime accused had links with the Pakistan-based Dawat-e-Islami organisation and had visited Karachi in 2014, the Rajasthan Police chief said on Wednesday.

The police have detained three more people in connection with the killing so far, Director General of Police (DGP) M L Lather said at a press conference.

Two men, identified as Riaz Akhtari and Ghouse Mohammad, hacked Kanhaiya Lal to death with a cleaver at his shop in Udaipur on Tuesday and posted videos online saying they are avenging an insult to Islam.

The duo were taken into custody on Tuesday and booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the IPC, the police chief said.

"One of the accused, Ghouse Mohammad, has links with the Karachi-based hardline organisation Dawat-e-Islami. He had visited Karachi in 2014. So far, we have detained five people, including the two prime accused," Lather said. 

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News Network
June 18,2022

Kabul, June 18: Several blasts and gunfire hit a Sikh Gurdwara in Afghanistan's capital Kabul on Saturday, according to media reports.

The blasts occurred in the Karta Parwan area of Kabul, Tolo news tweeted along with the video after the blasts. Gunfire was also reported from the area.

Karte Parwan Gurdwara is located in the area.

The casualties in the blast were unknown.

"We are deeply concerned at the reports emanating from Kabul about an attack on a sacred Gurudwara in that city. We are closely monitoring the situation and waiting for further details on the unfolding developments," the spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi tweeted.

Abdul Nafi Takor, a Taliban-appointed spokesperson for the Interior Ministry, confirmed the attack but did not provide further details or say whether there were casualties, The Associated Press reported.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

The Islamic State group known as the Islamic State in Khorasan Province has in the past claimed responsibility for attacks on mosques and minorities across the country.

"We heard a huge blast in Kart-e-Parwan neighbourhood at around 6 a.m. local time. The blast was followed by another explosion which occurred about half an hour after the first blast. The whole place has now been sealed off," China's state-run Xinhua news agency quoted an eyewitness as saying.

The security forces have cordoned off the area for precautionary measures, he said.

The blast sent a column of thick smoke into the sky and triggered panic, the witness said.

"There is fear of possible casualties. Several warning shots were also fired by the security forces," he added.

Community leaders estimate just 140 Sikhs remain in the Taliban-ruled country, mostly in the eastern city of Jalalabad and the capital Kabul.

In March 2020, at least 25 worshippers were killed and eight others injured when a heavily armed suicide bomber stormed a prominent gurudwara in the heart of Kabul, in one of the deadliest attacks on the minority Sikh community in the country.

The Islamic State terror group had claimed responsibility for the attack in the Shor Bazar area.

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News Network
June 21,2022

yogamysuru.jpg

Mysuru, June 21: Prime Minister Narendra Modi performed yoga along with thousands of participants at a mass demonstration in the backdrop of the iconic Mysuru Palace here on Tuesday and said the physical fitness regime was forming a basis for cooperation among countries, and that it can become a problem-solver.

Leading the main event of the International Day of Yoga (IDY), Modi said yoga brings peace to our universe and gave the hope of a healthy life to humanity. "Yoga brings peace for us, the peace from yoga is not only for individuals, yoga brings peace to our society, nation, the world and the universe," Modi said, quoting rishis, maharshis and acharyas.

Speaking after inaugurating the grand event here, he said, "This might feel like an extreme thought to someone, but our sages have answered this in a simple mantra- that this whole universe starts from our own body and soul. The universe starts from us and yoga makes us conscious of everything within us and builds a sense of awareness."

Stating that things start with self-awareness and proceed to awareness of the world, he said, "When we become aware of ourselves and our world, we begin to spot the things that need to be changed both in ourselves and in the world. They may be individual problems or global problems like climate change and international conflicts."

Noting that spiritual centres like Mysuru have nurtured the energy of yoga for centuries, Modi said, today that energy was giving direction for world health. Yoga today is not just a part of life, but is becoming the way of life, and it should not be limited to any particular time or place, Modi stated.

Pointing out that pictures of yoga until a few years ago were limited to houses and spiritual centres, the Prime Minister said, today they were coming from every corner of the world, and at a time when the world faced the pandemic over the last two years, thus depicting the excitement towards Yoga Day, leaving behind the barriers of country, subcontinent and continent. This proves our vitality, he said.

"Yoga has today become an international festival. Yoga is not limited to any individual, but it is for the whole of humanity. So this year's International Yoga Day's theme is yoga for Humanity," he said, as he thanked the United Nations and all the countries for taking the message of yoga to the entire humanity.

Highlighting that yoga makes us conscious, competent and compassionate towards challenges, Modi said, millions of people with a common consciousness and consensus, millions of those with inner peace will create an environment of global peace, and that's how yoga can connect the people, countries and it can become a problem solver for all of us. Noting that the Yoga Day is being celebrated as the country is observing 75 years of Independence, he said the broadness and acceptance for Yoga Day is an acceptance of India's feelings, which also gave energy for the nation's freedom struggle.

"The mass yoga at iconic places will bind together India's past, vastness and diversity," Modi said. Speaking about the 'startup yoga challenge', the PM called upon the youth to participate in new ideas and possibilities in the field of yoga.

The event here was attended by, among others, Karnataka Governor Thaawarchand Gehlot, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, Union AYUSH Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, Mysuru royal scion Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar and "Rajmata" Pramoda Devi. Since 2015, the International Day of Yoga has been celebrated worldwide on June 21 every year. In his address, Sonowal said that "it is after two tumultuous years of the (covid) pandemic, that we are now celebrating IDY in offline mode".

Integrating the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav with celebrations of 8th IDY, mass yoga demonstrations will be organised at 75 iconic locations across the country under the leadership of as many Union Ministers, along with the PM's event at Mysuru, officials had said earlier.

The Prime Minister's event here was also part of the novel programme 'Guardian Yoga Ring' which is a collaborative exercise between 79 countries and United Nations organisations along with Indian Missions abroad to illustrate yoga's unifying power that surpasses national boundaries.

"As the sun apparently moves from the east to the west across the world, the mass yoga demonstrations in the participating countries, if seen from any one point on Earth, will seem to be happening one after the other, almost in tandem, thus underlining the concept of One Sun, One earth", officials said. 

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