Controversy surrounds a shocking incident relating to the Colombo Excise Department where members of its special branch had allegedly assaulted and threatened a businessman in Mannar at gunpoint and robbed his cash amounting to Rs.2.5 million, informed sources disclosed.
Six members attached to the special unit, which is known as the Special Branch or the Intelligence Unit that directly operates under the purview of the Department’s Deputy Commissioner Crimes, had arrested a businessman in Mannar on November 21 during a special raid.
The Excise team in civvies led by the Officer-in-Charge of the special unit armed with pistols had obstructed the businessman’s car at an undisclosed location on the Mannar – Anuradhapura main Road.
The businessman identified as Dushmantha and his driver Pradeep were taken into custody for the alleged possession and transportation of Kerala Ganja
(a strong variety of Cannabis usually smuggled from South India).
The sleuths however could not find any narcotics in the trader’s possession but only found a bundle of currency notes amounting to Rs.2.5 million in the car.
When the sleuths had failed to find any narcotics in the vehicle, they had taken the duo to a remote area and brutally assaulted them and threatened with death at gunpoint before relieving them of their money, sources said.
The sleuths were however careful not to disclose their identity as to which law enforcement agency they belonged to.
The businessman who was in a serious condition had got himself admitted to the Dambulla Hospital and had reportedly made a full statement to the Hospital Police Post that an armed gang had robbed his money after assaulting them.
The Excise unit retrieving back to Colombo had rushed to the Dambulla Hospital after hearing that the businessman’s condition was serious than they thought.
The sleuths had returned half of the robbed money to the owner immediately and tried to “cool him off” by promising the rest soon and forced him to discharge from the hospital.
According to sources, the unit is currently engaged with two infamous characters in Gampaha called ‘Osmond’ and ‘Denim Shantha’ to compromise a settlement with the agitated businessman without going for legal action.
The incident had also been brought to the attention of Excise Commissioner General L K G Gunawardena but the outcome was not immediately known. Attempts to get a comment from the Excise Commissioner were not successful. (Kevin Kariyawasam)