Deputy Minister accused of leading mob attack on club
By Santhush Fernando
A city nightclub cum karaoke lounge was attacked last night by a gang of more than 100 men, some of whom were armed with pistols, in what is seen as a retaliatory attack connected to an incident involving the son of a deputy minister.

The gang was reportedly retaliating against a refusal by the nightclub staff to allow Deputy Minister Mervyn Silva's son and his armed guards to enter the premises the previous night.

Rajiv Mathew, Manager of Sopranos karaoke lounge in the Colombo Cricket Club (CCC) premises, told the Cinnamon Gardens Police that Deputy Minister Mervyn Silva was in the mob and was instigating some of them to carry out the attacks.

Several eyewitnesses to the attack, which occurred around 7.30 p.m. said they saw the Deputy Minister at the scene.
Mr. de Silva, however, denied the charge. "I was nowhere near that place," he told The Sunday Times last night.

He said if anyone was able to prove the allegations against him that he would step down from politics. According to Mr. Mathew's statement, the Deputy Minister had arrived at the club in a Pajero along with four more Pajeros and 15 to 20 threewheelers. Some of the men in the mob were armed with clubs and firearms.

The club's security guards who were hired from a security firm managed by Mahen Ratwatte, son of former PA Minister Anuruddha Ratwatte, had tried to close the door of the lounge but the gang overpowered them, entered the lounge and smashed the glass doors, windows, television sets and the liquor racks, he said.

Mr. Mathew said the gang also attacked the cashier and other employees and collected the mobile phones of the customers after threatening them. The mob had stolen around 10 phones from the customers, among whom were some directors of the Sri Lanka Tourist Board.

Mr. Mathew said he was aware of the previous night's incident where the Deputy Minister's son had been denied entry to the nightclub upstairs because one of the guards was carrying a pistol. Clancy's nightclub is run by a different management.

He said he believed that yesterday's incident was a retaliation to the previous night's incident. Some gang members also stoned the night club and the adjoining.

CCC (also known as the CH and FC) club, breaking windows and causing damage to at least five vehicles which were parked outside, eyewitnesses said. They claimed that one gang member even tried to manhandle a female guest at the karaoke club.

When officers of the Cinnamon Gardens police, just 150 yards from the club, arrived, the mob had left. No arrests were made.

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