SB wins the day; university closed

Sabaragamuwa Mayhem:

By Chaminda Silva and N.H. Piyasena,
Balangoda corr

Sabaragamuwa University was shut down until further notice yesterday when pandemonium reigned with students staging an aggressive protest against a visit by Higher Education Minister S. B. Dissanayake and his deputy Nandimithra Ekanayake to the varsity.

Police fired tear gas and used water cannon to disperse the protesting students who had hurriedly put up barricades on the road near the Pambahina Junction to block the ministerial motorcade.

The two ministers managed to visit the university and lay a foundation stone for a new hostel and to declare open the newly constructed Walawe Hostel for female undergraduates.

The protest held up traffic along the Badulla-Colombo main road.

Police said that they had been compelled to use water cannon to disperse the protesting students and no one had been injured. The police denied the accusation by undergraduates that they had used tear gas.

Convener of the Sabaragamuwa University Undergraduates’ Collective, Rasindu Jayasinghe said around Rs. 400 million had been spent on the newly constructed hostel, but it had not been built properly.

It posed a danger to students. And there was a plan to lay a foundation stone for a hostel for male students next to an army camp. he added, alleging that the whole project smacked of a sinister plan.

Addressing the opening ceremony, Minister Dissanayake said there were a handful of students who staged protests. The new building had been built by engineers who had passed out of Sri Lankan universities and they knew what they were doing. "I hear that some politically motivated students claim that part of Rs 400 million allocated for this building has been siphoned off. Then they accused us of not fixing roof gutters. We did not permit fixing roof gutters to avoid the breeding of dengue mosquitoes. There is a group of organised students who sent others to roads with tills to collect money. They do not let students speak English because they do not want the youth to come up in life so that they could prey on them. These troublemakers are thriving on youth unrest and there is no other way they could survive in mainstream politics. We won’t give in to them. They can protest and block roads but we will not stop developing the university system and improving the students’ lot."

The university administration later announced that the university had been closed indefinitely.

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