ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday March 2, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 40

Harassment of TV journalist: IGP to get report

By Himal Kotelawala

The report on the alleged harassment of Derena TV journalist Sugath Devapriya by Mount Lavinia HQI while covering last Saturday’s bus blast, was submitted to Police Chief Victor Perera yesterday, police media spokesmen N.K. Ilangakoon said.

Mount Lavinia Headquarters Inspector Mahesh Perera is alleged to have manhandled Mr. Devapriya shoving him away from the cordoned-off area.“We were outside the yellow line. Actually, there wasn’t even a proper tape there. It was just a rope. Anyway, we were outside when HQI Perera came and asked in a loud voice what we were doing there,” Mr. Devapriya told The Sunday Times.The police officer had allegedly ordered the journalist away from the crime scene saying he knew how to make him go.

Derana TV journalist Sugath Devapriya being shoved aside by Mount Lavinia HQI Mahesh Perera, when the journalist was covering last Saturday’s bus bomb blast

“I told him we’re not here to obstruct the police from doing their duty; we’re even outside the tape, and asked him what the problem is. It was then that he twisted my left arm and pushed me. I fell down. Two people lifted me up then I was pushed down again. I got up and left with two cops following me. I wasted no time getting into our vehicle and we drove off,” he said.

Mr. Devapriya said he went to the Mount Lavinia police station on Saturday evening to lodge a complaint but the police refused to record it.“The same thing happened the next day. So I called Colombo South Deputy Inspector General Chandana Wickramaratne. He asked me to come to the Mirihana Police and that is how I came to lodge a complaint at the Special Investigation Unit,” he said.

A statement by HQI Perera was also recorded at the Colombo South DIG’s office. Senior DIG Ilangakoon said that action would be taken if there was solid evidence against the mentioned police officer. Meanwhile several media organizations condemned the incident with the Sri Lanka Working Journalists’ Association lodging a complaint with the National Police Commission over the alleged harassment.

The Free Media Movement (FMM) expressing its displeasure on the incident said the FMM was appalled to learn of the treatment meted out by a Senior Inspector to a journalist who was on the scene of a bomb blast in Colombo.

However, when the The Sunday Times contacted HQI Mahesh Perera he brushed off the allegations levelled against him.“There were several journalists at the scene of the crime. I don’t remember who but one of them said he wanted to show footage of the crime scene to the public and that he has a right to do so. I told him that while it’s true about the right to do their job the police also had a stronger right and duty to carry out the investigation properly. So I told him to please go beyond this rope and do his job from there,” HQI Perera said. When the HQI was specifically asked about the alleged harassment of Mr. Devapriya, he said what really happened was different to what Mr. Devapriya said.

“If he listens to his conscience he’ll know the truth behind his allegation,” HQI Perera said.

Top to the page  |  E-mail  |  views[1]

Reproduction of articles permitted when used without any alterations to contents and a link to the source page.
© Copyright 2008 | Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka. All Rights Reserved.