The villagers of Noori, Deraniyagala, showing strong protest against the incumbent Chief Minister of the Sabaragamuwa Province and senior Police top brass, alleged that Maheepala Herath together with the Police had continuously provided political patronage to the atrocities allegedly committed by former Deraniyagala PS Chairman Anil Champika Wijesinghe alias Atha Kota.
At a gathering of close to a thousand villagers, held for the first time since the murder of Estate Superintendent Nihal Perera, villagers showed strong protest and signed a petition urging the President, Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Secretary of Defence, Gotabaya Rajapaksa to take action against those responsible for the crimes that had allegedly taken place in the area for over a decade.
In their petition, the villagers had called for the establishment of a permanent Special Task Force camp in Noori, “stating that they no longer had faith in the Police.”
The meeting, which took place at the village school, had been attended by the Chief Priest of the temple and the Kovil, SSP for the Seethawaka Range, ASP Athulathmudali, and was organized by villagers in order to present evidence against Wijesinghe as well as to sign a petition against the atrocities allegedly committed by him. “He was given political patronage by Maheepala Herath, and the Police continued to turn a blind eye to the crimes that were committed. These people came and shot my parents and burnt my house down while I was pregnant three years ago and no action was taken,” Udeshika Sirikumara told the gathering.
Sources told Daily Mirror that Senior DIG Lalith Jayasinghe was allegedly instrumental in providing cover to the suspect involved in the murder and other crimes including the rape of schoolgirls.
However speaking at the event SSP Anuruddha Rupasinghe re-iterated that he had received instructions from the IGP and the Senior DIG Lalith Jayasinghe and to give relevant attention to the cases. “The IGP , senior DIG Lalith Jayasinghe and DIG Mahesh Perera have instructed me and given me all the support to proceed with the investigations,” he said
A series of speeches were made in the presence of the senior Police officials, with villagers stating repeatedly that the Police did not even entertain complaints made against the man they called, ‘Atha Kota’.
“They burnt my house in 2008 and I went to each and every Police station in the area, I wrote to every authority regarding what happened to me and in the end they came to shoot my son and his life was only saved because the Chief Priest of the temple
hid him,” U. Padmakumara, a farmer of the area alleged. He also complained that he had been arrested by the Police and remanded for nineteen days on false charges after he complained about the atrocities committed by the gang. “The Police worked hand in hand with these criminals and I was put in jail because I went and put a complaint against them,” he said.
The gathering applauded each person that got up to level allegations against the former Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman, when they stated the political patronage provided by the Chief Minister and the cover given by the Police were the main reason for the terror unleashed in the area.
Villagers told Daily Mirror that Wijesinghe and his gang had been provided state patronage previously by Deputy Minister H.R Mithrapala as well.
Making an aggressive speech Udeshika Sirikumara alleged that former OIC Thissa Gunathillake had also played a pivotal part in ensuring that the suspects were not arrested. “The Police never even took our complaints down,” she said.