One hundred police officers headed by Police Chief Mahinda Balasuriya were in Matara yesterday to conduct the probe on the assault of the Deputy Commissioner of Inland Revenue Department (IRD) in the district.
In an unprecedented move, Police Chief Balasuriya himself was at the Matara Police Station briefing investigation teams and hearing feedbacks from those engaged in the probe.
The 100 officers include detectives from the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), Intelligence operatives and constables.
The move followed government concerns that work at regional offices of the Department of Inland Revenue may slow down and create huge revenue losses.
Senior officials of the IRD have already voiced fears that they were constrained from acting against tax evaders to enhance revenue. This disturbing situation has been brought to the attention of President Mahinda Rajapaksa who is also the Minister of Finance.
It was only on Friday; Mr. Balasuriya assigned one hundred Police officers including CID detectives and intelligence operatives to Matara to conduct a detailed probe. They have spread out in the area to conduct investigations. This is besides the probe that is being conducted by the Matara Police.
They are trying to track down the assailants of Deputy Inland Revenue Commissioner (Matara Branch) H.M. Denzil. Police say that when he was leaving from work one day, two unknown persons had boarded the same bus he was travelling in. When he alighted to walk towards his home, two more had joined and assaulted him. No arrests have been made so far.
IRD unions claimed that at the time of the attack, Mr. Denzil was handling the file of a defeated UPFA politico in Matara and they believed the assault was connected to the probe. The unions have also threatened strike action if the assailants are not arrested and punished under the law.
Besides the Matara Police, a CID team was tasked to conduct a probe. The detectives have still not been able uncover evidence to enable an arrest. Yesterday, intelligence operatives were interviewing residents in Matara to ascertain whether they had seen the attack to trace the whereabouts of the assailants. Meanwhile President Mahinda Rajapaksa has intervened to sort out the crisis by agreeing to meet union leaders and IRD Commissioner General K.M.S. Kandegedara on Wednesday and discuss the attack on Mr. Denzil.
Inland Revenue Staff Officers Association President Sarath Abeyratne said representatives of the joint trade union front on Friday met Deputy Finance Minister Chandrasiri Gajadeera and he briefed them on the progress of police investigations into the attack.
Mr. Gajadeera gave an assurance that the attackers would be brought before the law soon. He told union leaders that a new insurance scheme would be introduced for tax officers to carry out their duties without any fear.