Sri Lanka’s Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, brother of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, on Saturday warned that stern action would be taken against those who espouse racial and religious hatred on social media, news agency Adaderana reported.

The announcement comes about a fortnight after violent clashes broke out in Aluthgama and Beruwala — along the country’s southeastern coast — leaving four persons dead and nearly 80 injured. Several stores, belonging mostly to Muslims, were torched and homes attacked.

The June 15 clashes followed a rally organised by the hard-line Buddhist organisation Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), an outfit that, many allege, has the support of the government, particularly the Defence Secretary. The Defence establishment has periodically denied the charges.

Sri Lankan police have arrested 80 persons, 66 Sinhalese and 14 Muslims, according to spokesperson Ajith Rohana.

“We [the police] granted bail to 26 of them. Fifty four were produced in court and the court granted bail to 14 and the remaining 40 are in prison,” he told The Hindu on Sunday.

News agency AFP reported that eight persons linked directly to anti-Muslim riots were arrested this week and that gems and jewellery worth over LKR 1.5 million were recovered.

Meanwhile, the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka, an umbrella organisation of 48 Muslim groups, has sought enhanced security for the period of Ramadan beginning Sunday.