- Ruling party MP reveals IGP stopped Police from firing tear gas, water cannons at mob that broke out of Temple Trees
- Says President had called DIG Tennakoon who said IGP had directed not to disperse crowds marching towards GotaGoGama on 9 May
- President had said to take immediate steps to stop the crowds following which Police fired tear gas, water cannon
- Pathirana refers to witnesses telling HRC that IGP, Secretary to Ministry of Law and Order prevented Police from acting
The Inspector General of Police (IGP) had prevented police personnel on duty near the Prime Minister’s official residence Temple Trees on 9 May from firing tear gas and water cannons to disperse the mob that attacked protestors at Galle Face Green, a senior Government member told Parliament yesterday.
Galle District MP Dr. Ramesh Pathirana said Western Province Senior Deputy Inspector General DIG Deshabandu Tennakoon, who had been directed by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to prevent any unrest on the day, had to stand down the police personnel on duty after the directive from the IGP.
Pathirana who is among around 80 ruling party politicians whose houses and other properties were destroyed by mobs after the Galle Face incident said that he too had gone to Temple Trees on 9 May with party supporters from his direct who were there to bid Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa farewell as he prepared to resign from the post.
“The majority of the people who were there came to thank the Prime Minister for his service to the nation and bid him farewell. Towards the end of the meeting, I have to say with much regret, there were some stupid politicians who incited the people who were there. Only about 10% of the people who came were involved in the attacks. It was only after the stupid politicians spoke that they began moving along Galle Road with the intention of attacking the GotaGoHomeGama,” Pathirana said.
He said that he sensed that a dangerous situation was developing towards the end of the meeting and had called up DIG Tennakoon and warned him that the situation is looking serious and had been assured by the senior police officer that there would be no problem and roadblocks had been put up to prevent the crowd from moving towards the Galle Face protest site.
The MP said he had then left for the President’s House in Fort where there was a scheduled meeting with the President. When he got there, Pathirana said he received a call from former UNP MP Ashu Marasinghe who had told him that there was going to be a serious clash and to tell the President to stop it.
“I was in the meeting with the President and immediately told him what had been told to me and asked him to intervene and stop it.”
The President had then called up DIG Tennakoon in front of Pathirana and several other ministers and told him “I told you to stop this kind of situation in the morning” and questioned what was happening.
In response, the DIG had replied that the IGP had called him at 12.40 p.m. and said not to fire tear gas or water cannons. The President had then said: “I am the President of this country. I am telling you to stop it immediately.”
It was following this that tear gas and water cannons were used to disperse the crowd and Police were able to contain the outbreak of violence at least to some extent.
Pathirana said that two witnesses who testified before the Human Rights Commission had said the IGP and the Secretary to the Ministry of Law and Order who gave orders not to disperse the crowd.
“The protest at Galle Face had been going on for over a month and neither the President nor anyone else had any intention of even throwing a stone at these protestors. That is why it was there for a month and that’s why it is still there,” he said.
The Galle District MP said that there is a great deal of hatred among the public towards all 225 MPs and it was up to the House to conduct itself in a manner to win over the public.
“There are only 20-25 MPs who misbehave but they taint every other MPs image. I would like to request the Speaker to name these errant MPs every sitting week so that people know who they are,” he said.