Sri Lanka’s National Integration Minister Mano Ganesan has blamed “political terrorists” and the government’s opponents for attacks on the Muslim community after the April 21 Easter Sunday serial blasts that killed 257 people, The Indian Express reported on Friday. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attacks.
At least one Muslim man was killed and several shops and mosques were vandalised in communal attacks across the country on May 13, forcing the government to impose a nationwide curfew and temporarily block social media and messaging apps. Muslims account for almost 10% of the nation’s 22 million people, who predominantly comprise Sinhalese Buddhists.
Ganesan claimed the situation in the country was under control and community integration had not been hampered. “Since there had been integration within communities, the country did not go up in flames immediately on the same day of the attack,” the daily quoted the minister as saying. “The commotion against the innocent Muslim community was the creation of political terrorists who are in the opposition in Sri Lanka.”
Ganesan pointed out that the riots did not start on April 21. “People were angry and emotional…but they were able to identify the difference between innocent people and terrorists,” he added. “Why did it take so much time? Just because it is the work of political opponents of the government of Sri Lanka.”
The minister said security forces had failed to act on intelligence inputs and thwart the blasts. “Even though our security apparatus failed to make use of the warning, once the bombs went off, within hours our forces were able to approach and round up the hideout of terrorists in Colombo,” he added.
Ganesan was part of the delegation that accompanied Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s swearing-in ceremony. “Two days ago, we passed a Cabinet paper about the eastern terminal of Colombo Port being jointly developed by Sri Lanka, India and Japan…,” he said. “So, I think we have come here with a positive message for PM Modi.”