Indian national arrested on charges of vandalising Buddha statues dies in Sri Lankan hospital

COLOMBO: A 45-year-old Indian national, who was in police custody on charges of damaging Buddha statues in Sri Lanka’s Northwestern province, has died in a hospital following breathing complications, prison officials said on Tuesday.

The deceased, who has not been named by the police officials, was arrested on March 18 on suspicion of vandalising Buddha statues in the town of Kuliyapitiya in the country’s Northwestern province.

He was later produced in court and sent to police remand over the charges.

Chandana Ekanayake, the official prison spokesman, said the accused was in Wariyapola prison in the northwestern region.

Ekanayake said the suspect suffered chest pain and breathing difficulties while at the prison last night following which he was taken to the hospital.

“The man had died after being admitted to the Wariyapola hospital,” Eknayake was quoted as saying by The Colombo Gazette.

The prisons spokesman said the body of the deceased has been placed at the Wariyapola hospital to conduct an RT-PCR test.

Police arrested the suspect last month on charges of demolishing the heads of some statues of Buddha kept in a shrine in the Rathmalewatta area.

The suspect came to Sri Lanka about 16 years ago and had married a Sri Lankan woman, the Daily Mirror newspaper reported.