New Delhi: Sri Lanka’s Petroleum Minister and cricket legend Arjuna Ranatunga was arrested on Monday for the first violent incident amidst the ongoing political crisis in the country that killed one person, police said.
The political crises in Sri Lanka took an ugly turn on Sunday when bodyguards of 54-year-old Ranatunga, a loyalist of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, fired live rounds at the supporters of the new premier Mahinda Rajapaksa, leaving one person dead.
One person succumbed to his injuries and two others were hospitalised in the shooting incident and a security personnel was arrested at the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) premises in Dematagoda following a tense situation.
The incident took place when the cricketer-turned-politician visited the CPC office, with several petroleum corporation workers objecting to his presence there. When they were not allowed to move out, Mr. Ranatunga’s security personnel opened fire which injured three persons, police said.
The cricketer-turned-politician was arrested on Monday for the incident at his ministry premises when a petroleum worker died due to shooting by his security staff, police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said.
Sri Lanka had plunged into political crisis since President Maithripala Sirisena sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinge and appointed pro-China former president Mahinda Rajapaksa as his successor.
It was the first report of serious violence since Sirisena sacked Wickremesinghe and installed former strongman Mahinda Rajapakse as the new prime minister, triggering political chaos.
President Sirisena sacked premier Ranil Wickremesinghe who termed the move as “unconstitutional” and vowed to prove his majority in Parliament.
The sudden development came amid growing tensions between Sirisena and Wickremesinghe on several policy matters and the President has been critical of the Prime Minister and his policies, especially on economy and security.
Meanwhile, in the wake of political turmoil in the country, the United States had asked Sri Lankan political parties to ‘act in accordance with their constitution’ and ‘refrain from violence’.
China on Monday said it is closely monitoring “the political turmoil” in Sri Lanka but maintained that it is the internal affairs of the country and hoped that the relevant political parties can resolve their differences through dialogue and consultations.
Asked about China’s stand on the current political crisis in Sri Lanka considering that Beijing has made huge investments in the island nation, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told media that China is following the crisis closely.
China has developed high stakes in Sri Lanka since it made over USD eight billion Chinese investments, including the Hambantota port and the Colombo port project during the tenure of Rajapaksa who is widely regarded as pro-China.
China is investing billions of dollars in infrastructure and developments in Sri Lanka since Rajapaksa’s rule. The government led by Wickremesinghe has tried to re-balance Sri Lanka’s foreign relations away from China and towards India and Japan.
(With agency inputs)