Dr. Liyanage Amarakeerthi, Senior Lecturer at the University of Peradeniya has said that the Monday attack on minority students at the Peradeniya University was not an attack to counter the recent clash at the Jaffna University’s Science Faculty.
The Monday clash left several Tamil and Muslims students injured and four hospitalized.
The clash occurred between a group of Tamils, Muslims and Sinhalese students, including seniors and a group of freshers’ from the University’s Allied Health Sciences Faculty for allegedly refusing to take part in an activity organized by the seniors.
Dr. Amarakeerthi, told the Colombo Telegraph that there has been a series of incidents where senior students have been assaulting juniors. “But, there is no real racial element in these attacks. This is basically a comeback by the seniors against the junior when the juniors refuse to take part in student union activities led by the seniors.”
He said that while it was difficult to say that the attack was racially motivated, he did note that maybe there could be some racial undercurrents specially as the culprits were believed to be Sinhalese while the victims were from the minorities. “But, this is not in reaction to the Jaffna University clash,” he said.
According to Tamil media reports, the clash occurred when a group of Sinhalese students ganged up against a group of 15 Tamil students and one Muslim student who were returning from a Kovil and Mosque. The Sinhalese students had told the female students in the minority group to leave and had then assaulted the minority male students with clubs.
Meanwhile, President of the University’s Students Union Mangala Maddumage has condemned reports that the attack was racist centred. “There is no truth to these rumours that it was a racist attack,” he had reportedly said.
The incident has however been downplayed with few media organisations reporting the incident and details of the victims. In July, the Jaffna University Science Faculty was closed after a group of Tamil students attacked Sinhalese students over a cultural activity to welcome freshers’ at the Science Faculty. When the incident happened at the Jaffna University, the Media Ministry ‘unofficially’ ordered media organisations not to report the racial angle when reporting the incident.
Meanwhile, the Bodu Bala Sena in a statement condemned the attack on the Tamil students at the Peradeniya University.