Police directed to arrest those responsible for Jaffna incidents

=Assassination bid on Jaffna HC judge denied
=Wounded Police Sgt succumbs to his injuries

State Defence Minister Ruwan Wijewardene, MP, yesterday said law enforcement authorities had been directed to arrest those responsible for recent incidents including the attack on Coast Guard personnel at Vallipuram, in the Jaffna peninsula.

The CG personnel had been attached to Point Pedro navy base and were attacked around 5.00 pm on Friday after they had taken into custody a group of persons engaged in illegal sand mining. They had fired in the air to disperse the unruly crowd as naval reinforcements rushed to the scene.

Addressing the media at UNP headquarters, Sirikotha, Minister Wijewardene said he had discussed the incident involving CG personnel with the Commander of the Navy Vice Admiral Ravi Wijegunaratne. The minister stressed the need to arrest the suspects as soon as possible.

VA Wijegunaratne on Saturday morning visited the CG personnel wounded in the incident.

The UNPer was responding to The Island query whether the government was reluctant to order the arrest of the suspects wanted in connection with a spate of incidents, including attack on an isolated police post and police officer’s home in the wake of police firing at a truck carrying illegally mined sand in the second week of July. Police action resulted in the death of 25-year-old Dinesh travelling on the truck, which had ignored a police order to stop. The gang attacked the policeman opened fire.

Subsequently, an unruly crowd caused damage to a buffel armoured personnel carrier belonging to the elite Special Task Force (STF) on the day of the funeral.

The Island pointed out a policeman providing security to Jaffna High Court judge Illancheliyan Manikavasagar (54) had succumbed at the Jaffna Hospital to gun shot wounds he suffered in an incident near the Nallur Kandaswamy kovil on Saturday around 5.00 pm and none of those responsible for previous incidents had been arrested.

The police headquarters identified the victim as 51-year old father of two Sergeant Sarath Hemachandra (PS 24330), Nimal Sewana, Kumarakatuwa, Chilaw.

Asked for clarification regarding claims of an alleged assassination bid on the Jaffna HC judge, Minister Wijewardene said the police were still investigating and the circumstances were unclear.

Authoritative police sources told The Island that there had been two policemen assigned to provide security to Jaffna HC judge and one of them (police sergeant Wimalasiri) travelled with the judge in his office car while Hemachandra rode the police motorcycle ahead of them. Sources said that Hemachandra had got into an argument with a person who stood in the middle of the road leading to a scuffle with him. The policeman accompanying the Jaffna HC Judge got off and fired at the man who grabbed his colleague’s pistol. The man fired at Hemachandra and his colleague causing injuries to both before fleeing the scene leaving behind the pistol. PS Hemachandra intervened because of traffic congestion caused due to an argument among a group of persons, according to sources.

A senior police official denied claims that it was a pre-planned operation. Jaffna police yesterday arrested two persons who had been there at the scene of the incident though the gunman remained at large.

Police and military sources emphasised that only an experienced gunman could have taken two targets within seconds. Sources said however that contrary to claims the gunman hadn’t fired at the Jaffna HC judge or shot at the car. The Jaffna HC judge hadn’t got out of the car and wasn’t the target of an assassination attempt, police and military sources said, adding that an attempt was being made to mislead the public into believing the judge Manikavasagar had been targeted as he was a member of three-man trial-at-bar hearing Vidya murder case.

The fact that the weapon seized from police sergeant Hemachandra had been used against policemen indicated that it was certainly not an attempt on Jaffna HC judge, sources said.

However, the four-party Tamil National Alliance (TNA) condemned the attack and urged the Inspector General of Police to bring the perpetrators to justice and “investigate the conspiracies behind this incident.” TNA spokesperson and Jaffna District MP M. A. Sumanthiran said in a statement that the party was “gravely concerned that the incidents of crime in Jaffna peninsula have reached serious levels.”

The US Embassy said on Twitter it was deeply concerned’ by the shooting and called on the Sri Lankan government to ensure perpetrators face ‘due, swift justice.’

Responding to another media query, Minister Wijewardene acknowledged that establishment of a security camera system in the Jaffna would be useful. The minister denied claims that there was opposition to installation of a camera system now in operation in Colombo.

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