Lankan protesters take to the streets | world | Hindustan Times
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Lankan protesters take to the streets

world Updated: Feb 11, 2010 00:13 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

A frantic Anoma Fonseka, former army chief Sarath Fonseka’s wife, had called up first lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa for help in Moscow after her husband was arrested by the military police on Monday night and taken to an undisclosed location.

There is little love lost between President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Fonseka; the fallout between the two has been bitter and got worse after Rajapaksa defeated Fonseka in January’s Presidential poll.

But the first lady, it was learnt, called Anoma back from Moscow, asked her what had happened, and promised to help. After returning from Russia, she again called and guided Anoma on how to make contact with Fonseka.

The contact might have been made — Anoma has been allowed to meet Fonseka for 60 minutes everyday at the Sri Lankan navy quarters where he is been held — but that’s evidently not enough; the government on Wednesday insisted that there was tangible evidence to prove the allegations — conspiring against the government and politicking while in service among others — against Fonseka. “These are serious offences,’’ government spokesperson, minister Keheliya Rambukwella, said.

But Fonseka’s supporters rose up in protest against his arrest in Colombo and parts of south and east Sri Lanka in Galle and Ampara.

Reports said police had to lob tear-gas shells among protesters in Colombo after they had gathered in front of the Supreme Court on Wednesday morning.

Police intervened after two groups attacked each other with bottles and stones. In the ensuing melee, some protesters were injured and taken to the General Hospital in Colombo for treatment. Tear-gas shells were also lobbed among Fonseka’s supporters staging a protest near the clock tower in the eastern Sri Lankan town of Ampara, the Ada Derana website reported.

Meanwhile, a Fundamental Rights (FR) violation petition challenging the alleged arbitrary arrest of Fonseka was filed before the Supreme Court on Wednesday. Wife Anoma was one of the two petitioners.

Fonseka’s lawyer, Wijedasa Rajapaksa, told HT that either the government should produce evidence against Fonseka or release him immediately.