Jan 25, Colombo: Prison authorities have tightened security at Sri Lanka’s main remand prison in Colombo following clashes between the inmates and prison officials injured 31 yesterday.
The inmates have initiated the clash with the officials complaining over the quality of the food service at the Magazine Prison, according to the prison officials. However, the police spokesman Superintendent of Police Ajith Rohana has said the inmates remanded for drug offences were behind the skirmish.
The rioters set fire to the prison’s record room and hurled stones at the vehicles traveling on the nearby Baseline Road forcing the authorities to close the road for traffic.
Police used tear gas and gun fire to quell the riot and authorities called in the army and elite Special Task Force (STF) police to bring the situation under control.
The prison officials under heavy security have removed 187 hardcore LTTE suspects remanded at the Magazine prison into the main Welikada prison.
Among the 31 injured were 5 prison officials, the hospital sources said. The injuries are however not life threatening except for two people who were critically injured, the sources said.
Following the incident, the Secretary to the Ministry of Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms A. Dissanayake, Commissioner General of Prisons, P.W. Kodippili and several other officials toured the premises and inquired into the well-being of the prisoners.
“The situation was caused due to certain administrative decisions taken to eradicate illegal activities among inmates,” Minister of Prison Reforms Chandrasiri Gajadeera said.
The Minister has told local media that the clash caused damages of over Rs. 5 million to the prison property. The fire in the record room has destroyed a host of documents but that is not of any consequence as the documents can be retrieved from court records, the Minister has said.
A special committee including the Additional Secretary of the Ministry and top prison officials has been appointed to investigate the incident.