Hartal in East over mosque issue

By Franklin R.Satyapalan

The Eastern Province Muslims yesterday staged a hartal in protest against an alleged move to demolish a mosque in Dambulla.

All state institutions, banks, schools and private business establishments remained closed and public transport had come to almost a standstill, with protesters burning old tyres on the roads. Security was beefed up in the area.

The Muslims were scheduled to stage a protest following the conclusion of Jumma prayers at noon on Friday (27), in the Eastern Province, SLMC General Secretary MP M. T. Hassen Ali said yesterday.

Opposition Leader of the Akkaraipattu Municipal Council  Moulavi Haniffa of the SLMC, said that the hartal had been organised in Muslim majority areas of Sammanthurai, Kalmunai, Maruthamunai, Sainthamaruthu, Nintavur Oluvil, Palamunai, Addalachchenai, Akkaraippattu and Pottuvil in the Amparai District and Eravur and Kattankudy in the Batticaloa District in protest against what he called an attack on a mosque in Dambulla by an unruly mob led by a group of Buddhist monks.

HQI Amparai CI Jayatha Ratnayake said that the hartal had not caused any disruption to attendance in workplaces or schools and normal activities continued in the Amparai town.

SLMC sources said that the High command of the party presided over by Leader Rauff Hakeem was scheduled to meet on Saturday April 28 to decide whether or not it should work alongside the government following the mosque controversy.

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