A 17-year-old ‘A’ level student was allegedly brutally beaten up by a group of drunken policemen in an apparent case of mistaken identity at Yagodamulla in the Minuwangoda police division earlier this week.
In a complaint made to the Minuwangoda police -the victim, I.D Chalaka Sampath- said a group of six policemen had pounced on him and severely beaten him with clubs and gun butts as he was making his way to the family bakery during the early hours of Tuesday morning.
Sampath, who is a prefect at the Sri Rahula Maha Vidayala in Kotugoda told The Sunday Times that the incident had occurred at around 4.00 a.m. in the morning. “I was around a hundred metres away from the bakery when the attackers pounced on me without any reason.
Assault victim 17-year-old Chalaka Sampath
“They did not even identify themselves but kept raining blows on my head and body”. He heard one of them saying “this is our man”.
“I kept pleading with them, telling who I really was and if they needed to confirm their suspicions then they could make enquiries at the bakery”, but they would not listen.
A neighbour hearing my screams for help switched on his porch light and came to my rescue, only to be ordered back inside by the attackers who at this point identified themselves as policemen.
I was then hand cuffed, blindfolded and bundled into the jeep. The attackers kept warning me all the time to shut up or else they would shoot me and dispose of my body in the nearby marshland.
I was then taken to the Minuwangoda police station where both my hands and feet were tied to a table making any kind of movement impossible, he said.
The ordeal went on for several hours before my parents turned up at the police station and pleaded for my release, he added. My parents had been informed by the neighbours on the incident
The victim’s parents felt uneasy that morning when the bakery workers phoned the house to tell them the youngster had not turned up though it was just a five-minute walk to the bakery.
This prompted an immediate search and later neighbours confirmed the boy had been taken away by a group of policemen.
On release the victim was rushed to the Ragama Teaching Hospital and still complains of severe headaches as a result of the beating, his brother, Chaminda Pradeep said. He complained that despite a complaint made to the Minuwangoda police the same day, no action had been taken.
Later the family made a complaint to a local human rights group who in turn informed the IG P, the National Child Care Authority, the Attorney General’s Department, the Chief Justice and the National Police Commission.
The Officer in Charge Minuwangoda Police IP Chintaka Perera said it was a regrettable incident. He claimed his officers had mistaken the youth for a notorious armed criminal wanted for a wave of crimes that included rape, theft and robbery in the area.
He added the police had visited the victim’s family and even extended an apology. According to Mr. Perera no complaint had been made against the suspect police officers.
DIG Sarath Jayasundera under whose range Minuwangoda falls told The Sunday Times that he was not made aware of the incident, but assured that he would look into the matter immediately. He also urged the victim’s family to lodge a complaint with the SSP for the Gampaha district.