Reveal godfathers of Deraniyagala criminals – UNP

Noori Estate killing:

By Shamindra Ferdinando

A thorough investigation into the killing of Nihal Perera (69), Superintendent of Noori estate in Deraniyagala on the morning of July 5 would expose the godfathers of those arrested for the high profile killing, Kegalle District UNP parliamentarian A. D. Champika Premadasa said yesterday.

Premadasa, who had been a longstanding SLFPer before switching his allegiance to the UNP, told The Island that people of Deraniyagala had been terrorised by the gang responsible for the estate superintendent’s killing for quite some time. The MP said that Kegalle district SLFP leadership should be ashamed of what was going on in the Deraniyagala electorate.

When pointed out that he as an Opposition lawmaker as well as a member of the main Opposition party had been strangely silent on the issue, MP Premadasa said that Kegalle was represented by him and MP Kabir Hashim. MP Premadasa assured The Island that he would take up the issue at the party’s decision making Working Committee next Tuesday (Aug. 6).

The police have so far arrested 21 persons, including former Chairman of Deraniyagala Pradeshiya Sabha Anil Champika Wijesinghe in connection with the killing. Avissawela Magistrate Dhanushka Seneviratne ordered all 21 suspects to be produced before courts on July 31.

The parliamentarian said that it would be the responsibility of the government to ensure an impartial investigation.

Addressing the editors of print and electronic media at Temple Trees on Tuesday (July 30) President Mahinda Rajapaksa assured that the police would investigate the incident thoroughly. When asked whether he was aware of the police intimidating residents suspected of supplying information to the media, President Rajapaksa immediately got in touch with IGP N. K. Illangakoon over the phone. Having spoken to Illangakoon, President Rajapaksa assured that the police were in the process of verifying facts.

Responding to a query by The Island, Kegalle District MP and Deputy Livestock Minister H. R. Mithrapala yesterday acknowledged he had been instrumental in nominating Anil Champika Wijesinghe to contest local government polls. He said that Wijesinghe had been backed by several members of SLFP ‘Balamandalaya’ hence he didn’t see any reason to deprive him of nominations. Responding to allegations that Wijesinghe and his henchmen had campaigned for him, the deputy minister said that Wijesinghe had fallen out with him just a few days after the LG polls. Wijesinghe had been made Chairman of Deraniyagala Pradeshiya Sabha as he polled the highest number of preferential votes at the LG polls in keeping with a party decision that those who topped lists of preferential votes should be appointed head of LG bodies.

Mithrapala said that he as the Deraniyagala electoral organiser had prevented Wijesinghe from being given nomination to contest the subsequent LG polls. "An angry Wijesinghe backed the candidature of a UNP contestant in retaliation," MP Mithrapala said.

Deputy Health Minister Lalith Dissanayake (Kegalle District MP) told The Island that he, too, believed that an impartial inquiry had to be conducted into very serious allegations. Responding to a query, MP Dissanayake said that tough action was called for to prevent such crimes.

UPFA parliamentarian Y. G. Padmasiri asserted that the situation wouldn’t have deteriorated to such an extent if the police had acted swiftly and decisively. Unfortunately, in spite of the main suspect being a mere Pradeshiya Sabha member, he had tremendous political clout. Padmasiri, a senior member of LSSP, a constituent of the UPFA alleged that the local police had collaborated with political goons. He said that the Deraniyagala crisis reflected the actual ground situation in the country.

A large group of residents recently signed a petition seeking permanent STF presence in the area to ensure safety and security of those who had voiced concern over the situation. At a meeting held at Tamil Vidyalaya on July 28, several persons alleged that the local police had cooperated with Wijesinghe’s gang.

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