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Moves underway to allay ‘grease ghost’ fears

By Wijitha Nakkawita
While the controversial but dangerous attacks on civilians, police and even armed forces in many areas were appearing to bring a sense of insecurity among the public in affected areas, senior government ministers and officers of the armed forces said those inciting violence would be tracked down and punished by law.
Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms minister D E W Gunasekara, asked for a comment said there was an unseen hand behind the so-called ‘grease devil’ incidents of violence with political motivation to bring about disunity after peace was achieved by defeating the LTTE terrorist group. Obviously there was some force who did not want peace in the country.

The minister said from the information the authorities gathered so far, these incidents of inciting mass violence emanated from the same source – it was too early to pinpoint the instigators or instigator of violence but it was very clear the objective was to create disunity among the Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim communities.

It was also observed that though some mysterious murders of women took place at Kahawatte in the Ratnapura District and suspects arrested, several incidents had started taking place in districts where Muslim of Tamil communities were in a majority. The grease devil phobia followed by violence took place at Haputale, next in the Eastern Province, in Jaffna and then in Puttalam. Asked whether there could be a foreign hand behind such violence, he said from the facts gathered so far there was no conclusive evidence of a foreign hand, but it was definitely done by the same force.

Officer Commanding the Army in the Eastern Province, Major General Lal Perera said the situation in the province was now normal with the Army, Navy and Police taking steps to educate the public with awareness programmes aimed at all levels of the public. The Army that was with the people from the days of the terrorist problems are taking all steps to educate the people about the danger of certain elements with ideological differences who could be responsible for certain incidents of violence.
A few days ago, the Army, Navy and the Police held a meeting with the people of Kinniya where the community, mainly fisher folk, was made aware of the importance of maintaining peace. These people who go out to sea for fishing were always assisted by the Navy whenever they are in distress at sea or in case of other problems. They were told that the armed forces or the police were there to keep peace and help the community, he said.

Another meeting with the community took place at Kattaparichchan and there too the authorities were able to convince the people that the perpetrators of violence were trying to put fear into the minds of the people. Whatever doubts or problems the community brought up were sorted out at the awareness meetings that are being held in the province. The response from the community was encouraging and we are continuing to monitor all the areas where violence erupted before but now the province has returned to normal and the development activities, fishing and agriculture in the region were going on smoothly. Now the people move about without fear and constant patrols by the armed forces and police were going on in the province, Maj General Lal Perera added.

The investigations into the violence that ended up by a mob killing a policeman at Puttalam were going on with a number of suspects arrested. There were more suspects to be arrested, said Deputy Inspector General of Police in Puttalam, Ravi Wijegunawardena. Though a very large number of people were present at the time of the incident of killing the policeman, suspects were identified by the statements made by certain eyewitnesses.
Though the State of Emergency was lifted from Thursday, we are carrying out our normal duties and there are no more incidents of violence in the area the DIG added.