Statues of Mahatma Gandhi and Britain’s Robert Baden-Powell have been vandalised in Sri Lanka amid an anti-Indian and anti-Western campaign on the island, police said on Friday.
Attackers beheaded the statues of Gandhi, the iconic Indian freedom movement leader and Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scout movement, in the town of Batticaloa, 300 kilometres east of Colombo by road, a police spokesman said.
“We have launched an investigation and deployed intelligence units to get at the vandals,” police spokesman Ajith Rohana told AFP. “We do not have any suspects at the moment.”
There was no claim of responsibility for the destruction.
Rohana said two other statues of local figures had also been destroyed in what appeared to have been a coordinated attack carried out overnight in Batticaloa, an area where there is a heavy security presence.
Anti-Western graffiti appeared in many parts of the country after the UN human rights council last month adopted a US-led resolution urging Sri Lanka to probe alleged war crimes committed by its troops.
Demonstrations denouncing the United States and its allies, backed by senior figures in the cabinet, were also held across the country.
Neighbouring India, which had previously supported Sri Lanka, sided with the West in voting for the resolution. Several local media have criticised India after the UNHRC vote.
Human rights groups say that up to 40,000 civilians were killed in the final months of Sri Lanka’s ethnic war, which ended in May 2009, but the government has insisted that none was killed by its troops.
The UN estimates that up to 100,000 people were killed in the conflict between 1972 and 2009.– AFP