COLOMBO: National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ), which was responsible for the Easter Sunday bomb attacks, had been running 17 safe houses and seven training centers for the suicide bombers, Ruwan Gunasekera, a police spokesman, said on Wednesday.
He said NTJ, along with two other organizations, had been proscribed by an extraordinary government gazette notification issued in Colombo on a directive from Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena.
Gunasekera said the safe houses and training centers had been sealed. He said the discoveries were based on information provided by members of the public.
The Easter Sunday suicide bomb blasts killed more than 250 people and injured more than 500 people, while Monday’s riots against Muslims and their properties resulted in one person’s death and caused heavy damage to Muslims shops and workplaces.
Meanwhile, the government made an amendment to a ruling on women’s attire — for the abaya — saying that women could only show their face from the forehead to the lower chin when in public. Last week’s notification indicated that women should show their full face, from forehead to lower chin, without covering the ears.
Following the earlier notification, Western Province Gov. Azath Salley made a representation to the island’s president urging him to amend the rule to allow Muslim women to cover their ears in public. “I am very happy that we are successful in convincing the government about our culture,” Salley said.
Ismeth Fathima, principal of the China Fort Girls’ school, told Arab News that this was a welcome move and Muslim women preferred to wear this form of hijab and abaya, which is more modest than showing the ears.
Monday’s violence in various parts of the island severely impacted daily life. The most affected town was Minuwangoda, 40 km from the capital. About 42 Muslim shops, including restaurants, were burnt down by hooligans in retaliation for the suicide bomb attacks on Easter Sunday.
Acting Defense Minister Ruwan Wijewardena, who visited Minuwangoda on Wednesday, told the media that it was a shock to see so many facilities vandalized by hooligans. “We will not allow this to recur,” the minister said. Those who were responsible would have to pay the price for it, he said.
Abu Khalid, the owner of a jewelry shop that was burnt down, told Arab News that it was his sole investment. “It is my bread and butter, I am used to an affluent life and now I am a pauper,” he said.
Sheikh Sulaiman, imam of a neighboring mosque in Galloluwa, said that everyone was saying his mosque would be the next target. “I am afraid to sleep inside the mosque,” he said.
Minuwangoda is now heavily policed. Patrol cars are patrolling the township to provide confidence and security for Muslims.