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Bloody clashes: Kelaniya Uni closed indefinitely

The Kelaniya University has closed all its faculties, except its Medical Faculty in Ragama, until further notice after two student factions clashed again yesterday. It was the second clash within a fortnight.

Two undergrads were warded at the Colombo National Hospital and Ragama Teaching Hospital and a large number, injured in the clashes, were treated and discharged.

Vice Chancellor Prof Sarath Amunugama told The Island that students belonging to Science and Arts Faculties attached to the Students Council had been involved in the clashes. "We had to admit several students to hospitals. University property too had been damaged. The cost of the damage is yet to be estimated," he said.

Clashes erupted when a group of Science faculty students obstructed the proceedings of the ‘Bihidora Abiyasa’ Arts Festival organized by the Arts students. Clashes went on and on and the university administration summoned the Police. Police riot squads after failing to bring the situation under control fired tear gas canisters to disperse students. However, clashes continued in several places inside the university premises.

A hurriedly summoned Senate Meeting had decided to close the university indefinitely and had declared the university out of bounds for students. Notices had been issued to undergrads in hostels to vacate them by 7 a.m. today (26).

Professor Nalin de Silva, Professor of Mathematics and Dean of the Science Faculty, complained to the VC that he was threatened by a group of students. No arrests had been made.

Convener of the Inter University Students Federation that controls the Students Council, Udul Premaratne told The Island that their comrades had been attacked by the Science Faculty students whose aim was to sabotage the Bihidora Abhiyasa Arts Festival.

"Two weeks ago, they stabbed one of our student members. Another had been stabbed today (25). His condition is serious," Premaratne said.

A student attached to the Science Faculty said that the Students Council was under the control of the JVP. He said a small group of full time JVP students want to disrupt the academic calendar of the university so that their political activities for the party could be carried out. "Our Dean had also been threatened by the JVP students," he said.

When the last time the two groups had clashed on February 5, a policeman was injured when the fighting factions turned on the police and pelted them with stones. 14 students, a majority of them girls, were arrested and remanded. They were subsequently allowed bail.

The Kiribathgoda Police are conducting investigations into yesterday’s clash.

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