Former Sri Lanka captain Arjuna Ranatunga arrested over shooting incident; gets bail

The 54-year-old was arrested on Monday after his bodyguards opened fire at supporters of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Arjuna Ranatunga
Arjuna Ranatunga. (Photo by Pradeep Gaur/Mint via Getty Images)
Shubham Ghosh

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From becoming his country’s first captain to lift the World Cup to taking oath as a central government minister and then getting arrested over death in a shooting incident as a result of the ongoing political crisis in the country, Arjun Ranatunga has seen it all. The 54-year-old was arrested on Monday after his bodyguards opened fire at supporters of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, resulting in the death of one and injury to two others the previous day.

The former Sri Lankan cricket captain was subsequently produced in a magisterial court and got bail, ESPNcricinfo reported. A political crisis unfolded in Sri Lanka on October 26 after the current president, Maithripala Sirisena, sacked Ranil Wickremasinghe as the Prime Minister and appointed former President Rajapaksa as the new premier.

The move led to a widespread controversy with Wickremasinghe and his supporters claiming that his removal was unconstitutional. Sirisena, nevertheless, remained stern on his stand accusing the United National Party leader of betraying the people of the country by failing to deliver good governance.

Ranatunga, a Wickremasinghe loyalist, later said in his defence that his bodyguards opened fire to protect him from a mob who he accused of intending to kill him. The incident happened at the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation office premises in Dematagoda, a Colombo suburb. Ranatunga was later escorted to safety by officers of Special Task Force. He was arrested following pressure from the petroleum corporation which even threatened to go on a fuel strike. Ranatunga was the country’s petroleum minister until his sacking during the crisis.

I feared for life for the first time

“They came to kill me – I state this responsibly – and you can check the CCTV footage. For the first time, I feared for my life. I thought of my children and my family,” the former left-hand middle-order batsman was quoted as saying.

Ranatunga led his country’s cricket to its pinnacle moment in 1996 when Sri Lanka defeated Australia in the final in Lahore to win their first World Cup title. Having played over a tenure of 18 years, he was known for his assertive leadership on the ground as he backed his players to the hilt. He scored over 12,000 international runs with eight hundreds.

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