Following the violent protests that erupted in Sri Lanka on Monday, former Sri Lankan Cricketer Arjuna Ranatunga termed the incident "unfortunate" and accused the police of handling the situation badly.
The developments come even as nationwide protests against the government have intensified over the past few days resulting in an increase in incidents of clashes with the security forces deployed at protest sites.
During an interview with ANI, the former cricketer said, "It was a very unfortunate planned incident. I blame the police forces for the incident. The police handled it badly. If they had done something about it, the incident could have been avoided. Most of these were drunk and they came out on the streets but the police did not stop them and attacked the harmless protestors," he said.
"Some of the pro-government supporters created ruckus at Temple Trees. Some of the Ministers who have been creating this issue for last so many years provoked these people to go to the peaceful protests which have been happening since many weeks," he added.
The Cricketer said that the people who came on the streets protested very peacefully without damaging anything and harming anything however, they were attacked in a very brutal way. He said that these are not the things anyone expected to happen.
Innocent middle-class people have been protesting as they are suffering from the crippling economy, but unfortunately, the law has been taken into their hands by some of the groups attacking the houses of ministers, he said during the interview.
The Cricketer condemned the violence saying, "Violence is not the solution of this problem. We should not set ablaze the government assets as they are the money of Sri Lankans only. Someone is using the innocent people to incite violence."
Earlier, Sri Lanka Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa's residence in the city of Kurunegala in the north-western province was set on fire, hours after the leader tendered his resignation to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, as the country goes through an intensified civil strife amid a crippling economic crisis.
A large number of protesters including the Inter-University Students Federation (IUSF) were out on the streets and attacked the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna MPs. Even some Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) offices were set ablaze.
The military has been deployed on the roads to maintain calm despite an island-wide curfew.
Sri Lanka is facing its worst economic crisis since independence with food and fuel shortages, soaring prices, and power cuts affecting a large number of the citizens, resulting in massive protests over the government's handling of the situation.
The recession is attributed to foreign exchange shortages caused by a fall in tourism during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as reckless economic policies, like the government's move last year to ban chemical fertilizers in a bid to make Sri Lanka's agriculture "100 percent organic".
Due to an acute shortage of foreign exchange, Sri Lanka recently defaulted on the entirety of its foreign debt amounting to about USD 51 billion. The economic situation has led to huge protests with demands for the resignation of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. (ANI)