A three-member committee probing this week’s prison riot in Anuradhapura is looking into the possible involvement of outside persons in instigating the prisoners, Commissioner General of Prisons Maj. Gen. (Rtd) V.R. de Silva told the Sunday Times.He said the Committee, led by a Commissioner, is investigating as to how the prisoners organised a protest campaign which led to a clash.
“The Commissioner who was appointed recently, had taken measures to ensure discipline was maintained. He stopped jailors taking mobile phones, ordered that searches be carried out on even food brought for prisoners”, he said.
He said that due to the tough disciplinary measures taken, compared with that of the previous administration, the prisoners had launched the protest.
Last Sunday, some prisoners attached to B2 floor of the Anuradhapura prison, climbed onto the roof and went on a protest fast, causing a major stir within the premises. The initial 22 protestors increased next day to over 50, encouraging others to join, calling for the new prison head to be transferred, as he, along with other officials were on a campaign against the protestors.
Other complains included tasteless meals and the unwarranted inspection of meal packets brought by relatives, while the new head had also banned smoking and betel chewing. Another grouse was that toilets were unclean and overflowing, posing a threat to their health, while certain conditions of bail were also to be amended for easier enlargement on bail.
Among the protestors were hardcore types, while there were officers against the move to ban drugs inside the cells, who supported the prisoners in their protest campaign.
The Prisons chief had sought Police and Army assistance to ensure security outside, while the Prison officers were trying to contain the situation inside.
“Due to the security provided by the Army and the Police we were able to ensure that none of the prisoners escaped. We should appreciate the assistance provided by them”, Maj. Gen. Silva said.
An injured prisoner who was warded, told us that the new head disallowed certain items such as milk foods, which provoked the rooftop protest . When the inmates’ displeasure was conveyed to the chief, he had said he would look into it later. They had then protested for the removal of the head.