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28 May 1915

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Muslim-Sinhala riots.

Exploring Confrontations: Sri Lanka – politics, culture and history, Michael Roberts, 1994; Kearney, R.N.,The 1915 riots in Ceylon – a symposium. Journal of Asian Studies, Feb.1970, vol.29, no.2, pp.219-222.


“The marakkala kolahalaya (disturbances concerning the Moors) began on the night of the 28th May 1915, or rather in the early hours of the 29th May, opposite a mosque at Castle Street, Kandy.  During the next nine days or so the clashes and assaults spread through the Central, North Western , Western, Southern and Sabaragamuwa Provinces; and at one point, on the 2nd June, were reported to be occurring simultaneously at 116 “centres”. On the odd occasion during this violent conflict, Moors shot or skilled Sinhalese; and there were masses struggles in one or two spots where the Moors had significant numbers. For the most part, however, the pogrom involved an assault on the person and property of Mohammedan Moors by Sinhalese (the latter joined by some Tamils in a few locatlities, for example at Kandy and Wattegama”) – with the focus in many localities being on Moor properties.  Large crowds were involved in the attacks on the Moors; mobs of over a thousand were reported at Matale, Wattegama, Kadugannawa, Gampola, Rambukkana, Panadura, Godapitiya and Akuressa.

“According to the official estimates, which must be taken as approximate, there were 25 murdered. 189 wounded, 4 incidents of rape. 4075 houses and boutiques looted, 250 houses and boutiques burned down, 17 mosques burnt and 86 mosques otherwise damaged.”  Source: Exploring Confrontations: Sri Lanka – politics, culture and history, Michael Roberts, 1994.

Related publications
Jayewardena, K., Economic and Political Factors in the 1915 riots. Journal of Asian Studies, Feb.1970, vol.29, no.2, pp.223-233; Rutnam, J.T., The Rev. A.G. Fraser and the riots of 1915. Ceylon Journal of Historical and Social Studies, July-December 1971, vol.1, no.2 (new series), pp.151-196.

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