Sri Lankan police on Monday came under pressure to arrest the Rajapaksa family loyalists involved in attacks on peaceful protesters last week, even as it arrested over 200 people on various charges following the violence that left nine people dead.
The clashes forced a curfew to be imposed last Monday.
Police have arrested some 230 people on charges including violation of curfew, attacking the public, and causing damages to public and private properties since May 9.
“The police said they have already arrested over 200 people for attacking the government politicians. We condemn such violence. But they have no hurry to arrest the government-backed attackers of protesters,” Nuwan Bopage from the young lawyers’ association told reporters.
The Attorney General too had asked the police to expedite the investigations.
The government-backed mob went berserk attacking the protesters demanding the resignations of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his brother and ex-premier Mahinda Rajapaksa on May 9 after the then prime minister addressed several thousands of them at his official residence while refusing to quit.
The attack triggered widespread violence against Rajapaksa loyalists, leaving nine people dead and wounding over 200 others. The police said at least 78 parliamentarians, including the former prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, had faced arson attacks on their properties.
The former premier came under siege in his official residence before being rescued to safety at a highly-secured naval base in Trincomalee.
Police have urged the public to provide information on government-backed attackers. They have arrested a worker from the ruling party-controlled municipal council of the Colombo suburb of Moratuwa.
The police set up dedicated phone lines for the public to provide information on the attackers while entrusting the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) with the investigations. The ruling party politicians have called for additional security for them as they are due to attend Parliament on Tuesday, the first since the violence broke out that killed 9 people and leftover 200 people injured.
Sri Lanka is going through the worst economic crisis since independence in 1948.
A crippling shortage of foreign reserves has led to long queues for fuel, cooking gas, and other essentials while power cuts and soaring food prices heaped misery on the people.
The economic crisis also triggered a political crisis in Sri Lanka and a demand for the resignation of the powerful Rajapaksas.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa sacked his Cabinet and appointed a younger Cabinet as a response to the demand for his resignation. A continuous protest opposite his secretariat has now gone on for well over a month.
Last Monday, Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s elder brother Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned as the prime minister to make way for the president to appoint an interim all political party government. Ranil Wickremesinghe was appointed the country’s new prime minister on Thursday.