The winner of a large Sri Lankan beauty pageant was apparently left injured after a former champion snatched the crown from her head on stage.
Beauty queen Pushpika De Silva won the “Mrs Sri Lanka” title at a ceremony, which aired on national TV on Sunday.
But, just moments after her victory was declared, 2019 winner Caroline Jurie seized De Silva’s crown, claiming she could not be awarded the title because she was divorced – a claim which has now been shot own by organisers.
In a dramatic clip from the ceremony, Jurie, , who is also the current holder of the “Mrs World” title, is filmed telling the audience: “There is a rule that prevents women who have already been married and are divorced, so I am taking steps to make the crown go to second place.”
She then walks up to De Silva and spends several seconds forcibly removing the crown from her head, while the other competitors look on, confused.
After a slight struggle, Jurie removes it from De Silva and places it on the runner up’s head, causing De Silva to tearfully walk off stage.
A video captured the events which unfolded and has since gone viral on social media.
De Silva said in a Facebook post that she went to hospital to seek medical treatment for her head injuries after the incident.
She says she intends to take legal action for the “unreasonable and insulting” way she was treated.
“There are a lot of single mums like me today who are suffering in Sri Lanka,” Mrs De Silva told a press conference. “This crown is dedicated to those women, those single mums who are suffering to raise their kids alone.”
Police say they have now arrested Jurie on charges of assault.
“We have arrested Jurie and (her associate) Chula Manamendra in connection with a charge of assault and causing damage to Nelum Pokuna (theatre),” senior police official Ajith Rohana said.
De Silva told reporters outside a police station in Colombo on Thursday that she was ready to drop the charges if Jurie made a public apology, but she had refused.
“I tried to end this out of court, but she has refused,” De Silva said. “I can forgive, but not forget.”
The Mrs Sri Lanka World beauty pageant is a major competition in Sri Lanka. The prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s wife, Shiranthi Rajapaksa, was among the guests at the ceremony.
Event organisers have apologised to De Silva. They also confirmed that the 2021 winner is separated, but not divorced.