Rebels storm JVP head office

Somawansa faction wants publication of Lanka suspended

By Saman Indrajith

A group of irate JVP front-liners yesterday stormed their party office demanding that the incumbent leader Somawansa Amarasinghe and General Secretary Tilvin Silva step down immediately. They were seen engaged in a heated argument gesticulating wildly while some of the dissidents stayed outside.

The JVP’s security division denied the media entry into the building where Somawansa loyalists and the dissidents were shouting at the top of their voices. A few minutes later the beleaguered JVP leader came out with a forced smile and pretended to be amused by the presence of a large number of media personnel.

"Are you shooting a film or something?" he joked.

He requested the journalists to leave as what the JVPers were discussing was an intraparty affair. "We will sort it out through negotiations," he said.

The two warring factions in a rare moment of unity resolved to adjourn their meeting until journalists left the party office premises.

Meanwhile, JVP Propaganda Secretary Vijitha Herath, MP visited the office of the JVP newspaper, Lanoka, at Gangodawila, yesterday accompanied by two directors and a lawyer and requested that the party organ be suspended. Sources said the leadership had received information that Lanka had decided to back the dissident group. On Wednesday, the JVP media unit was disbanded and its members were ordered out of the party office.

By the time Hearth and other arrived at the Lanka office, a group of about twenty dissidents had gathered there apparently ready to face any eventuality. It was revealed in talks the two factions had there that a vehicle belonging to a director named Lal Tennakoon had been stolen. Following a complaint lodged with the Mirihana police, seven members of the dissident group were arrested on suspicion. However, they were released after the vehicle was returned.

The directors of the Lanka newspaper have asked for protection from the Mirihana Police following the incident. Editor of the Lanka Newspaper Chandana Sirimalwatte said that all prepress work of the paper had been completed but he was not sure whether he would be able to print the paper without the consent of the board of directors.

Meanwhile, sources said that Galle District JVP MP Ajith Kumara, a Central Committee member, had switched allegiance to the dissident group and a large number of Galle District cadres, too, had joined the rebels to oust the party leadership.

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