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Saturday, September 30, 2023

Govt. clips DIG’s wings for ruffling minister’s feathers

Shamindra Ferdinando
Moneragala DIG M. R. Latiff has been stripped of one of the police divisions he administered following a tussle between the Moneragala police and some ruling party politicians.
Police headquarters has named newly appointed DIG Roshan Fernando as Latiff’s successor in the Moneragala District.

Latiff, formerly of the elite Special Task Force (STF), will continue to be in charge of Badulla. Earlier, he administered both the Moneragala and Badulla divisions.

Police sources said that the new appointment was made immediately after police headquarters last Wednesday (13) cleared DIG Latiff of misconduct while strongly endorsing ongoing police action against politically influential criminal elements.

Sources told The Island that an influential politician, who had been angered by DIG Latiff’s refusal to turn a blind eye to what was going on in Moneragala, vowed to force him out of the area. Sources said that police couldn’t have ignored instructions received from the government pertaining to DIG Moneragala.In the run-up to DIG Latiff’s removal police headquarters alleged that the arrest of several politically connected persons involved in illegal sand mining at Kumbukkan Oya on Dec. 27, 2012 had caused the dispute.

In spite of heavy political pressure to quietly drop the case, DIG Latiff had gone ahead with the prosecution, police headquarters stressed.

Latiff moved to Moneragala in Oct. 2011 after the conclusion of the conflict in May 2009.

Amidst the dispute over the police action against those who had been engaged in illegal sand mining, the Moneragala police arrested four persons, including the brother of a prominent local government politician, for attacking two police constables in the early hours of Jan. 30, 2013. Despite the politician and his associates making a desperate bid to settle the case out of court, the police prosecuted them. The police said that the politician’s brother had been given a suspended sentence for obstructing a senior Wildlife official.

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