BY Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema
Industries Minister Rishad Bathiudeen while denying the allegation leveled against him of trying to intimidate Mannar Magistrate Anthonypillai Judeson says that he has never met or spoken to him.
“I respect courts and I’m a charted engineer and I know it would be wrong to try and intimidate a Magistrate. I would not be engaged in such wrongful acts,” he said.
He added that there is no evidence to prove that he was involved in the protests and unrest in Mannar last week.
“I have been accused without carrying out any proper inquiry. The Magistrate claims I spoke to him over the telephone when he had received a call from my mobile phone number,” Bathiudeen said.
As for the claim that he had tried to intimidate the Secretary of the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) and ask for the transfer of the Mannar Magistrate, the Minister said that he had visited the JSC with Attorney at Law and MP Hunais Farook to hand over a complaint signed and given by the Muslims in Mannar.
“If there’s a problem related to the judiciary, we have to go to the JSC and that is where I went,” Bathiudeen said. He added that the complaint signed by the Muslim people had requested for an inquiry into the Magistrate and that it was not a personal request by him.
“There was no intimidation as alleged, I went with a lawyer and came after handing over the complaint,” he observed.
Explaining the protest that turned violent in Mannar, he said that he had been informed the people were engaged in a peaceful protest and the police was asked to use force to disperse them.
“This is what had resulted in them throwing stones,” he noted. “There are protests held outside the Aluthkade court complex and even lawyers have held protests. It would be wrong if anyone tries to forcibly enter the court premises,” he added.
Bathiudeen said that be was informed of the incident in Mannar around 2pm when he was returning after a meeting with the President. He observed that his mobile phone was with his brother at the time and he was unaware of the incident until he came out.
“I spoke to the President, Minister Basil Rajapaksa and Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and went to Thallaldi in helicopter after pumping fuel to it in Palavi. It was around 3.30pm and I prayed before meeting the people,” he recounted.
He said the Muslim fishermen had spoken of their grievances saying that they continued to suffer even after the end of the war.
“The people even blamed me saying that I have not addressed their issues, which I agreed,” he said.
According to Bathiudeen, he did not want to interfere in the Muslim fishermen’s issue since it related to two communities.
“I left it was for the government officials to handle, but they too seemed to have failed,” he said. “No one has asked me anything and instead they are accusing me. There needs to be a proper inquiry,” he added. Courtesy: The Sunday Leader