The Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) called off its countrywide strike last afternoon after discussions with Minister of Law and Order and Southern Development, Sagala Ratnayake.
Addressing the Media at its Office in the OPA Building in Colombo yesterday, GMOA Spokesman, Dr Samantha Ananda said the Minister had pledged to initiate a probe into last week’s attempted abduction of Medical Faculty Students Action Committee (MFSAC) Convenor, Rayan Jayalath. Minister Ratnayake had called the Inspector General of Police (IGP) during discussions with the GMOA and instructed him (the IGP) to carry out a comprehensive investigation into the incident and submit a report within two weeks. Discussions were held with the participation of the parents’ organisation and union representatives.
Dr Ananda said the Minister had expressed his deep regret regarding the incident in which a white van had been used by a group claiming to be from the Police Department who had come to the OPA premises to arrest Jayalath. He also said the Minister had pledged to apologise in parliament to all those concerned and the public for allowing such an incident to occur.
GMOA Secretary, Dr Haritha Aluthge said the Union had also requested a reassurance from the Minister that such incidents would not occur in the future. It also appealed for Ratnayake’s intervention in putting a stop to alleged government intimidation tactics against “peaceful protests by students.”
Dr Aluthge said the Minister in turn had requested for time to amend existing laws on police arrests. He had explained that the Police Ordnance was over 150 years old. A new circular should be issued with instruction on the procedure to arrest persons allegedly involved in breaking the law. He said that at least police officers should have documentation for the arrest of an alleged law breaker, Aluthge said.
The Minister had also revealed that he had not been responsible in ordering Sunday’s (23) police crackdown on the sit down protest by student groups at Lipton Circle. The GMOA Secretary said that investigations should be carried out to reveal those responsible for trying to vilify the government.
The Minister, he said had also agreed to expedite the process of taking necessary legal action against students who had been taken into custody following the alleged attack on the Health Ministry.
Dr Aluthge said the Union had also written to Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe with regard to the recent turn of events. The Union had also explained to him the urgent need to gazette the minimum standards required for medical education and to outline a time frame for it to be executed, he said.