Protests against the new strict measures in Sri Lankan prison to stem the coronavirus spread have killed two inmates while injuring six others on March 22. Some inmates had tried to escape during the demonstration against the measures as tensions erupted on March 21 at the Anuradhapura prison when guards tried to control the riot. According to the police, it was during the commotion, that guards even opened fire to prevent the prisoners from fleeing.
Anuradhapura prison is at least 200 kilometres north of Colombo where the prisoners were complaining about the decision about the authorities not allowing visitors as a precautionary move to contain the COVID-19. Sri Lanka has also imposed a three-day countrywide curfew since March 20 as the confirmed cases of the fatal virus in the country rose to 77. A police statement on March 22 said that six others who were wounded in the riots are being treated at a hospital.
The statement also added no inmates were able to escape the prison and the security has been further enhanced as additional police teams have now been deployed including some commandos. President of the Committee for Protecting Rights of Prisoners, Senaka Perera said that the prisoners were protesting against the congesting conditions and the poor quality of meals after the government had banned visitors for at least 14 days in order to prevent the spread of the virus. Reportedly, the visitors often used to bring home-cooked food for the inmates. According to an international news agency, the Sri Lankan prisons are overcrowded and sometimes even houses 5,000 inmates in an inmate facility which is capable of holding only 800.
Meanwhile, the coronavirus which originated in China in December 2019 has now claimed over 13,000 lives worldwide as of March 22. According to the tally by international news agency, the pandemic has now spread to 185 countries and has infected at least 3,08,425 people. Out of the total infections, 95,827have been recovered but the easily spread virus is continuing to disrupt many lives. Major cities have been put under lockdown in almost all countries, and the economy is struggling.
(With AP inputs)