‘Haamu is sleeping; said he will send a statement in the morning,’ says minister’s bungalow

On a presidential order, a senior secretary at the President’s office telephoned law and order minister Sagala Ratnayake to find out further about the Sinhala-Muslim clash at Gintota in Galle a few days go, and finding the mobile phone switched off, he called the minister to his home number.

The person who answered the call said, ‘Haamu is sleeping.’ Then, the secretary explained the seriousness of the incident at Gintota and asked that the minister be informed immediately and be told to call the president. Several hours elapsed, but no call came. The secretary called the bungalow and the same person answered again, who said, ‘minister Vajira (Abeygunawardena) is taking steps, our minister said he will send a statement in the morning.’

As promised, early morning the next day, Sagala’s ministry sent a statement. Later, his media unit telephoned journalists in the state and private media and asked that the statement be given wide publicity. What Vajira had done was to withdraw the STF from the area.

The two key UNP candidates having Vajira’s backing – Mohamed Kiyas and Amila Nuwan are trying to survive along extremist lines and were involved in the incident. Before the clash occurred, party leaders in Galle informed the country’s top leadership about the imminent danger. But, no additional police to prevent the clash was deployed and security was relaxed for a considerable period to allow a sizeable damage.

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