By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema
President of the Mannar Bar Association, I. C. Feldano says that action needs to be taken regarding this matter of political interference in the judiciary or else it would be a bad precedent.
He said the order made by the Mannar Magistrate Anthonypillai Judeson was fair since he has given time for the Tamil fishermen to find another location and the land would then be returned to the Muslim fishermen.
Recounting the incident that led to the incident where the Mannar courthouse came under attack, Feldano said the fishermen’s issue in Uppukulam triggered on the 13th when the Muslim fishermen had attacked the Tamil fishermen after Jumma prayers.
He observed that the police had failed to take action against those who had burnt the wadiyas of the Tamil fishermen although it could be charged as mischief and destruction of property.
“After two days, the police had filed a B report in court on the 16th, but no arrests were made,” he said.
He explained that the Mannar Magistrate had then given an order saying the Tamil fishermen be allowed to continue with their fishing activities in the area until they are directed to an alternative location and directed the police to provide protection for them to carry out their work.
“The following day, on the 17th the police had filed papers requesting for an order to prevent any protest campaigns in order to maintain peace in the area after receiving information that there was going to be a commotion the next day,” Feldano said.
On the 18th, a mob of Muslim fishermen had come near the courthouse and started to protest against the Magistrate’s decision made on the 16th.
“The protestors have shouted near the courthouse while courts were in session and they made personal remarks against the Magistrate. However, the Magistrate adjourned court sessions after several lawyers had requested him to do so due to the protests,” Feldano noted.
He further explained that after adjourning sessions, the Magistrate called the Mannar SP and ASP to his Chamber and asked them to disperse the crowd, but no action was taken. “They were called again and asked to control the situation, yet nothing changed. However, the police fired tear gas and dispersed the crowd when the Magistrate said he would report to a higher office,” he said.
Meanwhile, when the protestors started to throw stones at the courthouse, several stones had hit the newly built Mannar High Court.
According to Feldano, the newly appointed High Court Judge who was in his office at the time had then come and told the Magistrate that an order could have been given to arrest by shooting below the knee.
“The Magistrate then called the army and the crowd by then had dispersed. The protest went on for three hours,” he said. The Magistrate had received the alleged phone call from Minister Rishad Bathiudeen when he was together with several lawyers inspecting the damages to the courthouse. “It was from Minister Bathiudeen and we heard the Magistrate saying he could not be intimidated and disconnected the line,” Feldano said. courtesy: The Sunday Leader