A group of civilians including Buddhist priests led by Rev Ampitiye SumanaratnaThero yesterday alleged they were attacked by the police at around 6.30 p.m. on Friday in front of the Batticaloa Police Station.
“The Center for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) received a complaint from Rev Ampitiye Sumanaratna Thero alleging that a group of civilians protesting that their voting rights should be ensured were attacked by the police in front of the Batticaloa Police Station at about 6.30 p.m. on Friday when they attempted to submit a petition to the President in this regard,”said ManjulaGajanayake, National Coordinator of CMEV.
Sumanratana Thero yesterday confirmed the incident saying “We are ashamed to have been assaulted and attacked, stripped naked, disrobed in front of senior police personnel including the DIG of the area, Nandana Munasinghe and OIC of the of the Batticaloa police, Chief Inspector Hettiarachchi.”
According to the CMEV, the group included many Sinhalese civilians resettled in Keviliyamaduwa village in the Batticaloa District. They had tried to meet President Mahinda Rajapaksa after a meeting held at the Hindu College in Batticaloa on Friday to present a petition demanding their voting rights and a few other basic facilities.
Asked whether they have attempted to lodge a complaint at the police station, the thero asked “How can we lodge a complaint at a police station when we were attacked in the presence of senior police officers? Even our lives are in danger and we have nowhere to go”
“Is this the country we are living in,” he asked.
The CMEV maintains that according to Rev Sumanaratne, despite this group having repeatedly requested permission to meet President Rajapaksa, the request had been rejected by the police prompting the people to hold the meeting on Friday.
According to the eyewitness report by Sumanaratne Thero to the CMEV “One of the members of the group had been stripped naked and a few others have been attacked by the police. Four members including a pregnant woman have been admitted to the Teaching Hospital in Batticaloa.”
VenSumanaratna had told the CMEV that they are not in a position to make any complaint at any police station as the perpetrators are police officers. He further said that they are very helpless at this time and do not know what to do next.
When CMEV contacted CI Hettiarachchi, OIC of the Batticaloa police, he had categorically denied the allegation made by Ven Sumanrathana. He had said that the police did not attack anyone and that the people behaved in a disruptive manner.
Gajanayake said CMEV has spoken to the IGP, Elections Commissioner and other relevant authorities have been alerted. The response from the police has been the usual “we will investigate.”