May 09 mayhem: Police would have done nothing if MP Pathirana hadn’t alerted President – Ex-UNP MP

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

Former UNP National List MP Prof. Ashu Marasinghe says the police probably would have refrained from using any force against government goons on 09 May if SLPP MP Dr. Ramesh Pathirana hadn’t intervened.The complicity of the police and the Public Security Ministry, in the goon attacks on the Galle Face protesters, should be fully investigated and the wrongdoers punished, ex-MP Marasinghe said.

Prof. Marasinghe, who was at the Galle Face protest ground when a group of SLPP politicians, who after a meeting chaired by the then Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa at the Temple Trees, set upon the anti-government protesters, told The Island he had sought the intervention of MP Pathirana as the mobs marched towards ‘Gotagogama’.By then the mobs had smashed up the constructions put up outside Temple Trees and assaulted protesters in Kollupitiya, the ex-MP said.  He adding that he had got in touch with Dr. Pathirana.

Dr. Pathirana told The Island that he had been at the President’s House at the time former MP Marasinghe contacted him. “Therefore, I was able to bring the situation to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s notice immediately. Among those present were MPs Kanchana Wijesekera and Keheliya Ranbukwella.”

Dr. Pathirana recalled how an irate President had telephoned SDIG Deshabandu Tennakoon and ordered the latter to bring the situation under control.Ex-MP Marasinghe said that soon thereafter the police made some half-hearted attempts to disperse the violent mob. The live coverage, provided by private television stations and social media, had exposed the police, Prof. Marasinghe said, urging the Attorney General Sanjay Rajaratnam, PC, to ensure a thorough investigation into the incidents.Responding to another query, Prof. Marasinghe said that as the mobs advanced, he had been on the top floor of Kingsbury. Having contacted Dr. Pathirana, ex-MP Marasinghe sent some pictures of the scenes in the Galle Face area.

Prof. Marasinghe said he had been involved in the ‘Gotagogama’ protest campaign from the beginning. Asked whether he had been part of the UNP contingent at the Galle Face protest ground, the ex-MP said that he was there as an interested party. “I have been involved in the campaign, since 09 April.

“In fact, I participated in a protest march conducted by the University Inter-University Students Federation, affiliated to the Frontline Socialist Party, from the University of Sri Jayewardenepura. It was organised in support of the ‘Gotagogama’ protest. Some discouraged my participation in the IUSF protest. They also asked me not to visit ‘Gotagogama’ though I insisted on my right to be part of the campaign.”

Prof. Marasinghe denied participating in violent protest at President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s private residence at Pengiriwaththe, Mirihana, on 31 March, and the countrywide protest campaign, on 03 April, conducted in spite of curfew.Prof. Marasinghe said that as he walked out of Kingsbury, he had seen Senior DIG Deshabandu Tennakoon a little distance away and when he inquired what had happened, the latter had claimed that the mob had broken through the police cordon.Appreciating President Rajapaksa’s invitation to UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe to form a new government in the wake of SJB leader Sajith Premadasa refusal to accept the premiership, Prof. Marasinghe said Wickremesinghe was capable of handling the crisis.

Courtesy The Island

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