COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s opposition Marxist party JVP, the third largest political party in parliament, on Tuesday urged protesters to remain extremely peaceful during their anti-government demonstrations, saying indulging in violence would make way for the Rajapaksas to trigger a ''military intervention.'' The anti-government protesters, who have been conducting peaceful demonstrations since March end, were set upon by a group of pro-Rajapaksa gangs - mostly the grassroot political leadership of the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) on Monday.
A backlash saw the attackers being subject to violence, they were stripped naked and some of them were thrown into the Beira Lake in Colombo.
Later the ruling party politicians’ houses were subject to arson attacks throughout the island including the Rajapaksa ancestral house.
Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) general secretary Tilwin Silva said that resorting to violence would be playing into the hands of the Rajapaksas.
“We stress that indulging in violence would make way for the Rajapaksas to trigger a military intervention,” Silva said.
He said the protests must be persisted with until President Gotabaya Rajapaksa also resigns. Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, the elder brother of the President, resigned on Monday.
The Defence Ministry has issued shooting orders at anyone looting public property or causing personal harm.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has appealed for calm and an end to violence and acts of revenge.
The police arrested two people who had attacked senior deputy inspector general Deshabandu Tennakoon.
They attacked Tennakoon alleging that the senior police officer had colluded with the pro-Rajapaksa mob that had destroyed the peaceful protest sites while physically harming some of them.
The death toll rose to eight in the unprecedented violence that erupted after supporters of then prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa attacked anti-government protesters here on Monday. Though Mahinda Rajapaksa, 76, has quit as prime minister, this has failed to bring calm.
Nearly 250 people have been injured in the violence in Colombo and other parts of the country.
A curfew is in force across the island nation after mobs burned down the ancestral home belonging to the ruling Rajapaksa family amid mounting anger at the worst economic crisis.
Anti-government protesters have also set up a checkpoint on the road leading to the Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo to prevent the Rajapaksa family loyalists from fleeing the country.
Sri Lanka is facing its worst economic crisis since gaining independence from Britain in 1948.
The crisis is caused in part by a lack of foreign currency, which has meant that the country cannot afford to pay for imports of staple foods and fuel, leading to acute shortages and very high prices.