Nawalapitiya is under tight security as residents get ready to go to the polls – once again – on Tuesday.
More than 1,000 security personnel have been brought in to help the local police maintain law and order in the area, where violence broke out during the recent general election.
The extra manpower includes 400 Police, 300 Police Special Task Force and 300 Army personnel. They will have at their disposal a fleet of between 40 and 50 Police, STF and Army vehicles. An STF motorcycle squad has also been deployed. More than 130 checkpoints have been set up in and around the town, with 24-hour checking of vehicles and persons.
Around 62,320 residents are expected to cast their votes on Tuesday. Thirty-four polling booths have been set up in the Nawalapitiya electorate.
Police spokesman Krishantha Jayakody said maximum security has been provided to prevent violence and ensure a free and fair election. Deputy Inspector General Anura Senanayake is overseeing the special security arrangements.
“On the day of the election, special security personnel will be stationed around each polling booth at a distance of 500 metres,” the Police spokesman said. “In fact, security is already in place.”
There have been so far no recent reports of violence in Nawalapitiya.
But UNP candidate Mano Ganesan said his supporters and vehicles have come under daily attack, and that more than 10 such incidents have been reported.
“Six of my supporters had to be hospitalised after being assaulted, and seven of our vehicles were damaged,” Mr. Ganesan said. “Estate workers of Indian origin are being systematically intimidated and prevented from casting their votes.”
He said certain United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) candidates were resorting to thuggery, and were even threatening candidates in their own party. “The main reason the government is putting in all this extra security is to check the unruly UPFA candidates and their supporters,” he said.
Whenever there is an election, the Nawalapitiya Indian Tamil community is threatened and intimidated, Mr. Ganesan claimed.
“The highest number of Indian Tamil voters in the Kandy district come from Nawalapitiya,” he said. “Thugs visit the estates on the eve of the elections and threaten the estate workers. They also accost the voters when they are on their way to the polling booths and seize their polling cards.”
Meanwhile, UPFA candidate and former Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said the government wanted to ensure a safe environment for a fair and free polling on Tuesday. “There is a fear psychosis among voters, but we have provided sufficient security and voters should have no fears about coming to vote. It is too bad that violence is a common occurrence among certain candidates,” he said.
A Tuesday re-poll will also take place in Trincomalee, in the Kumburupiddy polling division, where more than 900 residents are expected to vote.
The Trincomalee district Assistant Elections Commissioner Nishantha Dinipriya will be present, along with Assistant Elections Commissioners M. N. S. K. Bandara, for Ampara, T. T. Krishnanandalingam, for Batticaloa, and K. J. S. Madawa, for Moneragala.
Polling stations in which re-poll is to be held
Kandy District -
Nawalapitiya Electorate -
01.Dolosbage Junior School, Lewdeniya
02.Alugolla Junior School, Alugolla.
03.Patithalawa Junior School, Patithalawa
04.Senadhikari National School, Udahenthenna
05.Gemunupura Junior School, Gemunupura
06.Yatapana Junior School, Graceland State
07.Iwalgolla Tamil Junior School, Iwalgollawatte
08.Pellapitiya Junior School, Hall No. 01, Pellapitiya
09.Pellapitiya Junior School, Hall No. 02, Pellapitiya
10.Haldola Rural Development Hall, Haldola
11.Giraulla Maha Vidyalaya, Meethalwa Hall No. 1
12.Giraulla Maha Vidyalaya, Meethalawa, Hall No. 2
13.Theliunna State Junior School, Thelihunna
14.M.S.Aluthgamage Maha Vidyalaya, Galpaya
15.Thelihunnagama Junior School, Thelihunnagama
16.Textile Centre, Halagama
17.Gallatha Junior School, Gallatha
18.Paththunupitiya Junior School, Paththunupitiya
19.Warakawa Junior School, Gonawalapathana
20.Nawalapitiya Maha Vidyalaya, Bawwagama
21.Kadiyanlena Junior School, Kadiyanlena
22.Berkeplewatte Government School, West Hall
23.Westhall Tamil School,
24.Heidri Junior School, Rozella
25.Templestowe Tamil School, Templestowe Estate
26.Meepitiya Vocational Training Centre, Meepitiya
27.Rambukpitiya Maha Vidyalya, Rambukpitiya
28.Aluthgama Dharmaraja Temple, Aluthgama Estate
29.Sri Dhammarathana Vidyalaya, Dekinda
30.Galaboda Tamil School,
31.Inguruoya Junior School,
32.Kathiresan Kumara Maha Vidyalaya, Kotmale Road
33.Anuruddha Kumara Maha Vidyalaya, Ambagamuwa Road
34.Nawalapitiya Junior Balika Vidyalaya, Soyzakelle
- polling station
01.Nursery Building, Burka Junction, Kumburupiddy
S.B. deplores polls misconduct
By Shane Seneviratne
UPFA candidate S. B. Dissanayake said the President and even his cooks would know what happened in Nawalapitiya at the recent general election. He was speaking at a press conference to discuss remarks allegedly made about him and two others by Nawalapitiya organiser Mahindananda Aluthgamage.
Mr. Disssanayake said there was large-scale rigging not only at the 34 polling booths in question but also at 20 other booths. Two cases have already been filed in court, he said.
“Going by what has happened, we cannot expect the re-polling on April 20 to be conducted in a fair manner,” he said. “Already people are being warned not to vote.”
Several acts of violence have been reported from Nawalapitiya, including attacks on the vehicles of election campaign organisers, he concluded.