Thursday, 18th September 2014

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Moneragala to drift back to dirty past?

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Bad blood runs in Moneragala in a running rift between the local politicians and the police. DIG MR Lateef, who is said to have been a committed Police officer in cleaning up the area of bad eggs and illegal activity, has since gone on transfer. This was in the aftermath of much heated up words flung at the DIG by the politicos at a recent District Development Committee meeting chaired by the Chief Minister, Shasheendra Rajapaksa where the Provincial Council Chairman wore a black band on his hand in protest at the DIG’s conduct.

Since, the appointment of a new DIG to Moneragala, the local politicos have put out a big laugh and a sigh of relief. Their claim is that the DIG was too iron fisted.
However, official sources point out that the appointment of a new DIG to Moneragala had been on the cards and that it was not influenced by politicians. In fact, DIG Lateef is said to have himself sometime ago asked for a replacement.
But inside sources, who know Moneragala through and through, say that this match played by the local politicians led by Sumedha Jayasena in influencing the DIG’s replacement is in effect having their own way in the area. Talk is that she rules the roost and had police officers obeying her; but Lateef was such a taskmaster that he did not retain errant officers under him.

Police sources claim that Moneragala had long been an inferno of dirty criminal activity involving big money ranging from illegal sand mining, ganja cultivation and pedaling and tree felling backed by the local politicos. A top cop serving long in Moneragala speaking under anonymity to The Nation said that before DIG Lateef came Moneragala was all dirty. But after his arrival in 2012 his unrelenting enforcement of the law using special police teams also knitting in the local public largely brought down corrupt activity.

Police strongly reiterate that the festering bad influence of provincial council politicians and Minister Sumedha Jayasena, who hails from the area, is the root to illegal activity in Moneragala.
 “When it comes to sand mining the rules are flouted from up downwards. The Archeological Mining Department blatantly issues permits while corrupt provincial council members too issue permits to their catchers. He points out that two of Minister Sumedha Jayasena’s workers were detected involved in illegal sand mining for a house which was being built by her son adjoining her house. Although she had a license for mining in a land owned by her these two persons had been mining in State land adjoining it.
The minister, when asked for her comments, said, “True, they committed an offence. But we had a permit and unfortunately they were not carrying it with them at the time. I was in Colombo. I phoned DIG Lateef over this, but he was unresponsive. Then I rang the IGP and told him this was a mistake and whether he could help only if possible. I never asked him to transfer DIG Lateef. And I will never encourage dirty activities. People including Buddhist monks ask me to help legalize ganja cultivation, but I have told them ‘nothing corrupt.”

The police officer goes on to refer to a case in particular where 14 persons including a local council member were detected and prosecuted in courts for gambling. But this member continues to serve in the council. Minister Sumedha Jayasena vows that she will be addressing Parliament as to the police atrocities in Moneragala during DIG Lateef’s tenure.

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