COLOMBO: The Sri Lankan government will deport all foreigners staying in the country without a visa or with an expired one as part of the heightened security measures in the wake of the Easter Sunday bombings, according to a media report on Friday.
Two Indians were on Wednesday arrested by police from Rajagiriya area here for violating Sri Lankan immigration laws during their stay in the country. Another Indian was among the 13 foreign nationals arrested by police from Mount Lavinia here last week without a valid visa. The others arrested for the crime include ten Nigerians, an Iraqi and a Thai national staying in different parts of the Lankan capital.
Internal and Home Affairs Minister Vajira Abeywardana on Thursday instructed the Controller of Emigration and Immigration to take steps to deport all foreigners remaining in the country without visas and those overstaying their visas, under the prevailing security situation.
The department of immigration and emigration will conduct raids to apprehend those living in the country without a valid visa with the assistance of the police and the Army and deport them accordingly after court procedure, the Daily Mirror reported.
Abeywardana passed the orders following discussions with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Muslim Religious Affairs Minister MHA Haleem on forming a national policy on how to handle the issue of foreign Muslim preachers who visit the island nation to conduct religious classes. It is feared that these preachers give speeches and radicalise youth to perform acts of violence on other religions, the report said.
Officials have pointed out that there were about 400 foreigners in the country who have overstayed their visas. The series of coordinated bomb blasts ripped through three churches and high-end hotels, killing 253 people and injuring 500 others, in one of the deadliest terror attacks in the country. A total of 106 suspects, including a Tamil medium teacher and a school principal, have been arrested in connection with the Easter Sunday blasts.
According to Sri Lanka's Foreign Ministry, the number of foreign nationals who have been identified as killed remained at 40, including 11 from India. Sri Lanka has a population of 21 million which is a patchwork of ethnicities and religions, dominated by the Sinhalese Buddhist majority.