( The Garbage mountain in a highly residential area in Meethotamulla)
Colombo Additional Magistrate Augusta Atapattu today criticised the Wellampitiya Police and remanded the Kolonnawa UC Chairman till January 4 on charges of assaulting the participants of a peaceful picket against the garbage dumping in Kolonnawa by the Colombo Municipality.
Counsel Gunaratna Wanninayake appearing with a team of lawyers for the aggrieved party said the residents had protested over the dumping of garbage brought from the Colombo Municipal limits.
He said the Wellampitiya Police had wilfully failed to provide protection to the protesters.
The counsel said after the police withdrew from the scene, the Kolonnawa Urban Council Chairman Ravindra Udaya Shantha had come there in a blue vehicle with about 15 to 20 thugs and assaulted the protesters.
He said six people including Attorney-at-law Nuwan Bopage were injured and warded in hospital.
The counsel said the Chairman was furious over the protest because the chairman is paid Rs. 4,000 by the Colombo Municipality for every truck load of garbage dumped there.
Counsel Gunaratne said there are four cases pending in the Magistrate Courts against the chairman on charges of assaulting and kidnapping people. The counsel requested the Magistrate to remand the suspect based on his previous record.
The counsel said the Wellampitiya OIC had asked the suspect to come to court without informing the aggrieved party about it.
He said the police was biased because of the political influence of the UC Chairman.
The Wellampitiya Police OIC told the Magistrate that another court had issued a restraining order on the protesters preventing them from obstructing the lorries that bring garbage to the dump. He said the protesters had carried out the picket with adhering to that order.
Counsel Anton Senanayake appearing for the chairman said on December 27 the chairman while on his way to Kolonnawa from Nuwara Eliya had received a phone call about the protest and had gone to the scene to see what was happening and pointed out that the allegations were made against the chairman because of political differences.
The Magistrate observed that every citizen had the right to engage in peaceful protests and nobody could assault them. The Magistrate blamed the police for their arbitrary action. (T. Farook Thajudeen)