Tension high in some areas as post-poll incidents continue

Post – poll violence continued in various parts of the country with attacks on supporters of the UNP and the JVP who backed common opposition candidate Gen (retd.) Sarath Fonseka.

In one of the latest incidents on Friday night, a UNP supporter’s house in Pathadumbara, Wattegama came under a grenade attack causing damage to the house as well to a vehicle parked close to the house, Police said. No one was injured in this attack on the residence of the ex-Grama Sevaka,
On Friday night a mob of allegedly UPFA supporters, stormed the JVP Kalutara District office causing a significant amount of damage to property. The assailants who had arrived at the scene in a van and double-cab had assaulted two persons who were in the office.

One of those who was injured in the attack on the residence of Akila Kariyawasam. Pix by Pushpa Weerasekera
A journalist’s house that was damaged in Kalugamuwa
A shop that was burnt down in Dambulla. Pic by Kanchana Ariyadasa

A police entry has been lodged at the Kalutara police station. However no suspects have been identified as yet. In the Hambantota district violence against UNP and JVP supporters continued prompting Sajith Premadasa, MP for the district to complain to the Commissioner of Elections with copies to the police. Mr Premadasa in his complaint said almost 30 incidents had been reported in the district on the day of election and thereafter.

They included attacks on persons, houses and business establishments. On the day after election a house in Katuwana was burnt down. In the Dambulla electorate, in the Matale district at least 30 houses were damaged in mob attacks over the past three days, UNP MP for the district Ranjith Aluvihare told the Sunday Times.

Meanwhile election monitoring group, Centre for Free and fair Elections (CaFFE) convenor Keerthi Tenakoon said in the past few days over 60 post-election incidents had been reported and many of them had been of a serious nature.

The Police Elections Unit has identified Anuradhapura, Kurunegala, Matale, Hambantota and Gampola as the areas where many of the post poll election violence has been taking place. Police teams that were deployed for special election duty have not yet been called back in certain parts of the country due to political tension remaining high, police elections unit chief DIG Gamini Navaratne told the Sunday Times.

“On election day the situation was quite peaceful. We have taken action against anyone who tried to break election laws. In some areas we have still kept officers who were sent on duty to control the situation. But the incidents are isolated ones and controllable,” he said.

According to police spokesman SSP I.M. Karunaratne three police teams have been deployed to carry out further investigations. In the Kurunegala District, gunmen opened fire on the residence of Kurunegala Municipal Council Opposition leader Akila Viraj Kariyaw-asam. Although he was in the house, he was unharmed but two workers in the house were injured. The police have not yet held anyone accountable for the incident as investigations are continuing.

On Thursday a grenade was hurled at the residence of Batticaloa Mayor Sivageetha Prabhakaran by an unidentified group. No one was injured in the blast while the Mayor was out of the residence at the time of the attack. The Batticaloa police are conducting preliminary inquiries into the incident. Tension still remains high in the Anuradhapura district, with incidents of houses being torched in the areas of Rajanganaya and Horrowpathana.

Despite isolated incidents taking place on election day there was a lull in the surge of violence that had gripped the country during the run up to the polls. The CMEV recorded a total of 178 of which 94 have been categorized as major incidents. These figures included election day and the days following polls.
The CMEV report has observed that the day of election was considerably less violent in comparison with the violence recorded on election day in 1999 and 2005 presidential election. In 1999 there were 816 major incidents and in 2005, 242 incidents were reported.

Meanwhile JVP Parliamentarian Navaratne Banda was reported to have been assaulted when he visited Gomugoda polling centre at Teldeniya to cast his vote on election day. The Parliamentarian was later reported to have been admitted to the Karaliyadda Hospital.

On Wednesday four houses which belonged to UNP supporters were burnt in Meeminawala in Horrowpathana which is in the Anuradhapura district. According to statements given to police by the victims, gang members from outside the areas were involved in the incident.

On the same day the President of the Yatinuwara Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) branch Wimala Mathurata and two others were attacked allegedly by a group backed by a UNP member of the Kadugannawa Town Council while returning home after casting their vote.

The three were later admitted to the Kadugannawa hospital. Police are conducting preliminary investigations into the scene.

Reports from Asif Fuard, J.A.L.Jayasinghe and Matale Correspondent

Elderly monk killed in Gampola

By Suranga Rajanayake

On election day, a prominent Buddhist monk and another person were killed, taking the death toll during the election period to six. The deaths were reported from Thambiligala in Gampola a day after the presidential election while results were coming in, indicating a clear win for President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

According to residents, a tense situation prevailed at Thambiligala on the day after the election and the area was shaken by an explosion after two vehicles approached the Bauddhaloka pirivena.

They said Ven. Matara Wimalananda Thera, who was a supporter of opposition common candidate General Fonseka, and eight others were wounded in the explosion and they were rushed to the Gampola hospital.

A few hours later, doctors announced that the elderly monk and another person identified as Wasantha Kumara, who was an employee of the Ceylon Electricity Board, succumbed to their injuries. Some of the seriously injured victims were later transferred to the Kandy hospital.

A police team led by Deputy Inspector General S. Jayasundera and comprising Gampola SSP Roshan Fernando, SP Gamini Perera and Inspector J. Heenkanda is conducting investigations.

The monk had been a resident in the temple for the past 53 years and was well known for his social work in the area. Born in 1932 he was the youngest of a family of eight. He started the pirivena in the temple in 1987 and had guided scores of young monks.

Police imposed curfew in Gampola and some areas in Nawalapitiya to bring the situation under control.

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