Police chiefs are on notice for closing a road to obstruct a rally!

Assistant Superintendent of Police Naleen Dilruk and Senior Superintendent of Police Roshan Dias have been issued notices in relation to a case filed in the Fort Magistrate’s Court regarding an illegal blockade.

Fort Magistrate Thilina Gamage issued this notice in relation to a protest attended by lawyers, journalists, and professionals on October 10, where the police closed off the road from the Galle Face side to the Presidential Secretariat to stop the protesters from marching towards the President’s Office. The notice was issued in relation to a personal case filed on behalf of the Young Journalists Association by its president Tharindu Jayawardena.

President’s Counsels Saliya Peiris, lawyer Manujaya Silva and lawyer Jayantha Dehiattage appeared before court for this case.

The police recently arrested protestors accusing them of ‘unlawful blockade’ and ‘public harassment’. But the police closed roads at will in many instances. In recent times, most of the public harassment that has happened was because the police closed off roads.

Yet the police, who accuse ordinary people, never enforce the law on their own officers who have committed the same. In such situations, citizens can file a personal case against the police.

Only a small group of people participated in the October 10 protest. It was not a massive march. They walked a short distance along the pavement from Galle Face Green towards the Secretariat. Afterwards, they engaged in a peaceful protest by standing on the pavement across the road from where ‘Gotagogama’ was. But at this time, police officers blocked Galle Road near the President’s Office. All movement on this road was obstructed, from buses to private vehicles. These vehicles were sent on a long detour through Mahagamasekara Mawatha. The police caused a lot of stress on the public.

Then they brought up Section 78 of the Police Ordinance. That is, that the police were not notified six hours in advance that there would be a march. But in truth, the Fort Police Station OIC was informed by email and that email was copied to many institutions including the Human Rights Commission at that time.

Young journalists showed the email address and letter sent six hours in advance to the police from their mobile phones. Then officers Nalin Dilruk and Roshan Dias put up an act in front of media cameras and yelled that the young journalists are lying. This was done while the email address was being shown publicly.

In the middle of this conversation, official Nalin Dilruk tried to belittle them by saying things like ‘These are not journalists, they are YouTubers, they lie for a living’. Since the suppression of journalists can cause problems internationally, the government has already launched a plan of suppression by labeling them as ‘social media people’ and ‘YouTubers’. This is what really came out of Nalin Dilruk’s mouth.

When Tharindu Jayawardena tried to file a complaint regarding this at the Fort Police Station on October 11, Sagara Liyanage, OIC of the Fort Police Station, threatened Tharindu, grabbed him firmly by the hand and pushed him out of the police station. Separate legal action will be taken regarding this incident.