Public Security Minister says troops never got involved; inquiry not needed
By Shamindra Ferdinando
Public Security Minister Tiran Alles yesterday (12) said that there was no need to investigate the presence of persons in military uniform, armed with wooden sticks and iron roads as they never engaged the protesters during the incidents in Colombo on 07 March.
The Minister said so when The Island inquired whether a ministerial level investigation was underway into the Opposition’s allegations. The military never entered the scene, Alles said.JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, last week, released pictures of men in uniform, armed with wooden sticks at the scene of the protests launched by university students.
The Public Security Minister insisted that the military hadn’t been deployed against protesters though troops were called in some instances.FSP spokesperson Pubudu Jagoda said that President Ranil Wickremesinghe as the Defence Minister should explain how men in uniform armed with clubs and iron bars had positioned themselves near the police. An explanation is required as Army spokesman, Brigadier Ravi Herath had clearly denied that the men in uniform were members of the military.
Brigadier Herath was not immediately available for comment. He didn’t answer his mobile phone.Jagoda said that either the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government was prepared to use the military and the police in a para-military role or deploy ex-military personnel, and thugs as in the 80s.
Army Commander Lt. Gen. Vikum Liyanage should set the record straight, the former JVPer said. The government should be ashamed of its failure to identify those deployed alongside the police, six days after the media captured them, the FSP spokesperson said.
Jagoda said that the government couldn’t remain in the denial mode as the public questioned whether members of private security firm, Avant Garde, or Rakna Arakshaka Lanka Limited (RALL), affiliated to the Defence Ministry, were involved in attacking protests.
Retired DIG Priyantha Jayakody told The Island that the military couldn’t be deployed in the absence of a state of Emergency unless called in by a law enforcement officer, holding the rank of SP and above. He said that the identity of the officer who called for the military could be easily established if the government genuinely wanted to inquire into this.
Jayakody stressed that the contingent deployed near the protest wouldn’t have carried wooden poles, unless they received specific instructions from higher authority. The ex-DIG recalled how men armed with clubs had moved out of Temple Trees on the morning of May 09, 2022, to carry out meticulously planned attacks on those demanding the resignation of the then President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
Jayakody emphasised that only two types of batons could be used – the normal baton and the one used by anti-riot squads.Responding to allegations, Police Spokesman SSP Nihal Thalduwa said that the military had moved in, on a request from the police. He said there shouldn’t be any ambiguity over the circumstances the troops arrived at the scene ahead of the protests.
Both Jayakody and Jagoda said that the Parliament should inquire into the disturbing development. Jagoda said that those rejected by the electorate, but determined to hold onto power, at any cost, were causing further chaos.The Police launched one of fiercest attacks on protesters on March 07, near Royal College and the Colombo University. A security officer at the Colombo University caught up in the tear gas attack died at the National Hospital due to complications.
courtesy the island
Disclaimer: SLA contingent armed with clubs: Opposition demands explanation from MoD, Army headquarters - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Latheefarook.com point-of-view