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KANDY: Kandy district limped back to normality on Thursday and the 24-hour curfew, imposed after communal clashes and violence targeting Muslim-owned businesses, was lifted as no further incidents of violence were reported.

Police said that 81 people, including the main suspect, had been arrested for triggering communal clashes. Seventy-one suspects were taken into custody on charges of violence while four others were arrested for violating the curfew and six for inciting unrest through the social media.

While access to social media platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp remained restricted for much of Thursday, access to them was restored by the evening. Officials said the material on all social media platforms would be monitored and that inciting violence through such platforms would be considered a serious criminal offence.

Police officials said that tight security would remain in place throughout the district to ensure that there was no relapse into violence amid concerns among Muslims about possibility of attacks during Friday prayers.

Muslims in Colombo protested peacefully against the recent communal violence in Kandy, and they were seen demonstrating their patriotism by kissing Sri Lanka’s national flag and appealing for communal harmony.

Deadly communal clashes erupted in Kandy on Sunday evening after a road rage incident left a 41-year-old Sinhala Buddhist man dead after being attacked by a group of people on Feb 22.

Published in Dawn, March 9th, 2018