At least 21 people, including three security personnel were injured when a group of people including the Joint Opposition parliamentarians protesting the launch of Sri Lanka- China Industrial Development Zone under the Southern Development Project clashed with the Police who tried to block the protestors reaching the Mirijjawila Board of Investment premises.
IGP Pujith Jayasundara at the scene
Police used tear gas and water canons to disperse the crowds who tried to reach the Mirijjawila BOI premises where the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremsinghe was due to launch Southern Development Project with the participation of Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Yi Xianliang.
Crowds including the Maha Sangha and Opposition parliamentarians launched a protest campaign against the giving away of lands to Chinese investors, despite the restraining order issued by the Hambantota Magistrate’s Court on Friday against 27 parties from organising protests, demonstrations and meetings for the next 14 days in the area near the Magampura port in Hambantota, on a request made by the police.
According to eye witnesses, Police initially failed to block protestors reaching the premises where the ceremony was held, to lay the foundation for the construction of the Sri Lanka-China Industrial Development Zone penetrating the barriers erected by the police.
After failing to block the protesters, Police used water canons and tear gas to disperse the crowds who tried to reach the place where the ceremony was held. Inspector General of Police, Pujith Jayasundara was also present at the place where the protesters clashed with the Police.
According to reports some groups among the protesters and outside the protest had pelted stones injuring the Police officers and the people engaged in the protest.
Hospital sources said that 22 people were admitted to hospital with injuries following the incident.
They continued to engage in protests in Ambalantota town too against the privatisation of the Hambantota port and over the Government’s decision to give away 15,000 acres of land in Hambantota to set up industries.
Meanwhile, 52 people have been arrested in Mirijjawila for protesting in violation of the court order, according to the Government Information Department.
Further operations are continuing to apprehend people who acted in violation of the court order and damaged public property.
Twenty-one people who were arrested for damaging public property during the protest were remanded until January 9 and two others until January 11, police said. (RW)