Pandemonium in Angulana
* Large mobs storm police post following killing of two youths
* Protesters claim police responsible for killings
By Kurulu Kariyakarawana, Sumaiya Rizvi, Kusal Chamath & Ananda Weerasuriya
Seven Policemen including the OIC of the Angulana Police Post were arrested by a special police team from the Mount Lavinia Police Division in connection with the killing of two youth. They were to be produced in courts yesterday afternoon.
Tension prevailed in Angulana yesterday morning when residents of the area expressed their anger by obstructing train services between Moratuwa and Colombo protesting against the killing of two young men allegedly by police.
A large crowd of more than 1000 angry residents, up in arms vented their fury by staging a protest in the area, subsequently surrounded the Angulana Police Post and started attacking it with stones.
The victims Dinesh Tharanga Fernando (26) a fisherman and Dhanushka Udaya Aponsu (21) a gym instructor had been allegedly taken into custody by the Angulana Police on Wednesday evening at the Podujaya School premises in Angulana.
Their parents said, police told them that the two youths would be released the next morning. However when they called over at the station early next morning, they were told that the suspects were handed over to the Mount Lavinia Police.
Dinesh Fernando`s Father Sanghadasa Fernando said when they were on their way to the Mount Lavinia Police they heard that the body of his son, Dinesh was lying near the Ratmalana Cooperative stall and Dhanushka Udaya`s body near the Lunawa Bridge.
He also said that according to two other suspects detained in the same police cell the two young men were severely beaten in the night and taken away in a jeep before dawn. Army and Police Anti-Riot Squads were immediately summoned to the scene to control the tense atmosphere which continued till late in the afternoon. However SSP Mount Lavinia Division Hemantha Adhikari who intervened in the scene assured the crowds that all policemen involved in the case would immediately be transferred.
The crowds with the assurance withdrew from the railway line letting the held trains to pass the area unhindered. All trains on the southern coastal line were held up for more than two hours due to the incident.
Meanwhile the Daily Mirror learns that the two boys who were returning home after work had been nabbed by the police in the Lunawa area as they had allegedly teased a young woman who is reportedly having a clandestine affair with an officer attached to the post.
The arrested policemen were escorted out of the post in two police vehicles. The angry mob threatened to kill them if they were not transferred immediately.
HQI Mount Lavinia Police Mahesh Perera told the Daily Mirror that the arrested officers would be produce before Mount Lavinia Magistrate Courts yesterday. A new OIC had been appointed to Angulana Police Post, named Sub Inspector Nishantha Dias, he said.
Meanwhile Mount Lavinia Magistrate Harsha Setunga who visited the crime scene conducted the preliminary inquiries having examined the bodies and ordered JMO Kalubowila Hospital to hold the postmortem.
The Magistrate also examined the police record books at the Angulana Police Post to find whether the two youth had been arrested by the police on the previous night but learnt that such entry had not been made.
Three teams to probea
Police Spokesman SSP Ranjith Gunasekara told the Daily Mirror three special police teams had been deployed to investigate the double murder, on the instructions of IGP Jayantha Wickramaratne.
He said no casualties had been reported except for the OIC of the post named Newton who had received injuries to his head from pebble attacks and the police post had been badly damaged. A reporter of a private TV channel was also injured in the incident.
An angry mob comprising about 1000 persons living in the area had surrounded the police post and attacked it with stones smashing windows and damaging the roof. They had also set fire to a trishaw belonging to the police, he said.
Govt. promises impartial probe
Cabinet Spokesman and Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa while expressing his sympathies on the deaths of the two youth in Angulana said the government would take measures to prevent a repetition of clashes between the Police and the public.
The government wants to maintain a good rapport between the public and law enforcement officers. The government is still to get a report on the incident. I do not have much information about this unfortunate incident at the moment. What I can assure right now is that the government has already ordered a thorough investigation, Minister Yapa told the media at yesterday`s weekly cabinet briefing.
He said three teams of police officers had been appointed by the Mount Lavinia SSP to look into the incidents that led to the death of two youths and clashes between the public and the Police at Angulana yesterday.
Resentment between the public and law enforcement officers do not auger well for the country. They must cooperate with each other to maintain law and order. The government will not hesitate to bring those responsible for the deaths of the two youth before the law, he stressed.
UNP hits out at police
The main opposition UNP yesterday said the Angulana police had not followed proper legal procedures in arresting the two youths who were later killed.
UNP Puttalam district Palitha Range Bandara said in a statement that a police jeep had allegedly been used in the abduction and assault of a student at the Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology at Malabe last week. He said the police media spokesman was making various statements, but they would all be a mere set of words.
Hundreds of thousands of such incidents have been buried in history now. Nothing has been found through investigations. No perpetrator has been produced before court. Some police officers who were allegedly involved in such cases have suddenly arrested vans laden with bombs, the UNP MP said.
He said there was a grave need for an independent and impartial police service, and therefore he stressed the need to set up an independent police commission under the 17th Amendment to the Constitution.
The UNP MP also expressed his opposition to what he termed as attempts to suppress the democratic rights of people under the cover of war victories.
A killing field: Mangala
SLFP Majajana Wing Leader Mangala Samaraweera commenting on the Angulana incident and the Nipuna Ramanayake episode yesterday claimed the country was virtually turning out to be a killing field.
Mr. Samaraweera told a news conference that police officers were abusing their power to eliminate their enemies in the guise of busting the underworld.
He made this point quoting IGP Jayantha Wickramaratne who had reportedly said they had received orders from the top to eliminate the underworld.
The ultimate result of this whole exercise is the nation becoming a killing field dominated by anarchy, he added.