The Defence Ministry yesterday gave an assurance that there would be no fresh crackdowns on lodges in Colombo after the recovery of powerful explosives in one of them on Wednesday.
However, the Daily Mirror learns that individual petitioners residing in `Ideal Lodge` where the explosives were found have been pressurized to withdraw their Fundamental Rights cases against their unlawful eviction on July 7.
`We have a reasonable suspicion that yesterday`s findings have given impetus to the pressure tactics used on these petitioners,` Civil Monitoring Commission (CMC) Convener, Parliamentarian Mano Ganeshan said.
`We are still collecting information about it, but we have received initial reports saying that there is covert pressure on these petitioners,` he added.
Mr. Ganeshan also urged the government to provide alternative security arrangements for civilians coming to Colombo from the North and East.
`The government should provide a secured screened area for innocent civilians who are coming to Colombo from the North,` he said.
`The situation of lodgers will obviously worsen due to the negative attitude of the government. We do not know the exact details of this incident. Terrorist elements could have been involved or it could have been staged for political reasons by other forces with certain agendas. It is up to the police to find the real reason,` he added.
`However, this cannot be used as a reason to put pressure on all lodgers. Civilians from the North and East are compelled to come to Colombo due to the worsening security situation there. Colombo is the only exit point from the country,` he stressed.
According to Counsel M.A. Sumanthiran, seven lodgers residing in `Ideal Lodge` have filed one FR petition collectively.
`None of my clients have asked me to withdraw their case so far. If they make such a request we will investigate into the reasons that prompted them to do so. However, if pressure is used, it can be amounted to interfering with the cause of justice,` he added.
Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) Executive Director Dr. Paikyasothy Saravanamuttu, another petitioner, said he has neither received any direct nor indirect pressure to retract the petition filed by his organisation.
Media Centre for National Security (MCNS) Director General Lakshman Hulugalle however assured that innocent lodgers would not be targeted in the aftermath of the claymore mine discovery.
`We don`t want to label all the people in lodges as terrorists. However, there might be a few among them who are misusing these facilities. But there is no need to evacuate or check everyone,` he said.
He also assured that there were no plans to introduce new security measures that would hinder the mobility of Tamil civilians.
`The current security measures would continue. Anyone who has a valid reason to come to Colombo will not face any problems,` he added.
However, Mr. Hullugalla added, `There was so much voice against checking lodgers and taking them away. But this incident has shown that vigilance is important.`