Pics by Chandana Wijesinghe

The National Police Commission (NPC) can investigate if police had behaved in an improper manner when they broke up yesterday’s (29) protest by Higher National Diploma in Accountancy (HNDA) students, Acting Secretary to the Commission N. Ariyadasa Coorey stated.

The secretary said this in answer to a query raised by The Nation on whether the NPC, which has been empowered under the 19th Amendment to Constitution, would investigate allegations of police brutality during yesterday’s protest by students in front of the University Grants Commission (UGC).

“We can of course investigate if police were heavy-handed in their actions. However, for that to happen, there has to be an official complaint lodged by someone. We have not received such a complaint as yet,” Coorey said.

Several students were injured when police baton charged a group of student protesters in front of the UGC yesterday. Police also used water cannon and tear gas to break up the protest. The students were from Inter Student Collective for the Protection of Higher National Diploma in Accountancy (HNDA). The had organized a protest march to the UGC building when they were stopped by police near Town Hall.

While police have insisted they only used ‘minimum force’ to break up the protest, photographs appearing to show officers beating student protesters, including female students, have appeared in national newspapers and on social media, sparking a public outcry.

Thirty-nine students were arrested by police during yesterday’s disturbances. All students were produced before court today, where they were released on bail.

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka has decided to investigate into allegations of police brutality on HNDA students during yesterday’s protest.