Uproar over assault on Range Forest officer
‘TU action’ if culprits not apprehended

Government officials attached to International Man and Biosphere Reserve Kanneliya yesterday threatened to resort to trade union action if Police failed to arrest the man suspected of assaulting Range Forest Officer.

They said the rule of law should be upheld and police must take strong action against the suspect, believed to be a henchman of a minister.

A senior Minister on Tuesday, expressed concern about the negligence of police officials to act immediately against the suspect who assaulted the official attached to the Kanneliya Biodiversity Conservation Centre.

Kanneliya is one of the four International Man and Biospheres. A large number of people visit Kanneliya daily to view its beautiful surrounding, especially the three water falls.

Environment and Natural Resources Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka said on Tuesday, he was disturbed over the delay in arresting the people who attacked Kanneliya Range Forest Officer (RFO) Sunil Ranaweera.

An angry Ranawaka said a place described as International Man and Biosphere was not for drinking, dancing and damaging of the environment.

He said he would not tolerate such acts irrespective of post and positions when it concerned a Protected Area.

Minister Ranawaka expressed his disappointment with Police for its failure to arrest the suspect.

‘The Island’ learns the Research Forest Officer was assaulted by an official of an area minister on Independence Day.

An official said that when the minister took nearly 300 of his supporters for a meeting, they immediately informed him that it was not a place meant for such meetings. Then the Minister had said that he would take full responsibility.

However, as the meeting was over, they wanted to have lunch and consume liquor. At this juncture, the Range Forest Officer had strongly objected to liquor consumption. Once again the minister had said that he would take responsibility and left the scene.

As he left, some of his supporters had gone near the bathing tank with liquor which forced the Range Forest Officer to intervene again. "There was an argument and the officer was beaten up," he added.

At the time of the assault, children attached to the Maharagama Vajiragnanaramya were having a bath in the tank. They too were shocked by the incident, a witness said.

The injured Range Forest Officer was admitted to hospital.

He had sustained injuries on his head.

He wanted the authorities to take strict action against the culprits.

Forest resources conservationist organisations have vehemently condemned the incident.

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