Colombo: An 18-year-old school student who was arrested for allegedly spreading false information on social media with an aim to incite communal violence in riot -hit Kandy, was sent to 14-day police custody Monday.
Lawyers of the suspect, a student of a leading school here, had moved a bail application but Colombo Chief Magistrate Lal Ranasinghe Bandara rejected the plea and sent him to police remand till March 26, the DailyMirror reported.
The suspect was arrested Sunday.
A total of 230 people — 169 of them from Kandy and 61 of them from other areas — have been arrested since the violence began on March 4.
During the hearing, the CID informed the judge that a magistrate’s court cannot grant bail to an accused held under the Computer Act and Reconciliation Act.
Sunday, fresh violence erupted when a Muslim-owned restaurant was attacked in an alleged hate crime in Puttalam district’s Anamaduwa city, 130 kilometres from Colombo.
Communal violence broke out in the Sri Lanka’s scenic Kandy district following the death of a man from the mainly Buddhist Sinhalese majority, resulting in the death of two persons and damage to several homes, businesses and mosques.
President Maithripala Sirisena has appointed a three-member commission to probe the communal clashes in Kandy.
He had declared a nationwide state of emergency on Tuesday last and deployed the police and military to prevent escalation of violence after clashes between majority Sinhala Buddhists and minority Muslims erupted in other areas of central Sri Lanka’s riot-hit district.
Tensions remain high across the country following which all schools in the riot-affected Kandy town were closed on the direction of the Education department.
After remaining closed for six days, all schools in the Kandy town opened Monday.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had said last Saturday that according to latest statistics, 465 places of worship, houses, vehicles, business places and other institutions had suffered damage during these incidents. Of them, 87 had suffered total damage and 196 partially damaged, while another 182 suffered minor damage.
Meanwhile, Minister of Fisheries and State Minister of Mahaweli Mahinda Amaraweera said that the government was considering the introduction of laws and regulations to impose certain restrictions on social media.
Today social media including Facebook are being used in spreading information defaming the President and many others and also tainting their character, he was quoted as saying in the DailyMirror.
“Therefore, the government is considering to introduce laws and regulations to impose some restriction on use of social media, further,” he said, adding strict procedures for the social media would be adopted after the President returns from his visit to India and Japan.
UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, who concluded a three-day visit to the island Sunday, urged the government to swiftly and fully implement the law to bring perpetrators to the justice.
During his visit amidst the communal violence, Feltman met with the President, the Prime Minister, Speaker of Parliament Karu Jayasuriya, Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana among others.
Muslims make up 10 per cent of Sri Lanka’s total 21 million population. Sinhalese are a largely Buddhist ethnic group.
Tensions between Muslim groups and the majority Sinhalese Buddhist community in the country have escalated since the end of the civil war in May 2009.
In 2014, violence directed against Muslim minority groups broke out in the southwestern town of Aluthgama, following a rally by hardline Buddhist nationalist monks, resulting in the death of at least three Muslims.