Amidst indication that violence will surge in the run up to the presidential poll, Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya yesterday decided to seek the establishment of a police unit directly answerable to him in containing such activities.
Mr. Deshapriya told the Daily Mirror he was planning to make such a request from Police Chief N.K. Ialngakoon.
“I have decided to engage with the IGP to discuss this matter. But, I have not taken a final decision on the matter,” he said.
However, the People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL), a leading election monitoring body, said it wrote to the Commissioner stressing on the need for such a special unit this time as indications were high that election violence would rise in the run up to the January 8 presidential poll.
PAFFREL Executive Director Rohana Hettiarachchi told the Daily Mirror there were shooting incidents in Madampe of the Puttalam district and Mawathagama of the Kurunegala district, but the police had remained mere onlookers being unable to take action against the perpetrators.
Mr. Hettiarachchi said as many as 350 police personnel attached to the Police Special Branch had been transferred on November 18, two days ahead of the declaration of the election.
“In addition, 20 police officers have been transferred. Police transfers have a direct bearing on the election. The police are directly responsible for protecting the law and order. That is a crucial factor for conducting a free and fair election,” he said.
He said, “After the declaration of the election, four officers have been transferred. In most cases, the IGP has been kept aloof.” (Kelum Bandara)