Two Ceylon Today journalists were manhandled by Malaka Silva’s bodyguards as they were covering the incident where Malaka Silva was assaulted at the premises of a leading shopping mall in Colombo on Monday.
The duo had followed Malaka to the private hospital when they were confronted, threatened and manhandled by the bodyguards till the police had come to their rescue. The journalists – Kasun Ganewatta and Gayantha Wanasinghe – were at the Tower Hall when they were informed about the assault on Minister Mervyn Silva’s son. The journalists rushed to the scene to cover the incident. “When entering the shopping mall, we were informed that Malaka Silva was admitted to a private hospital,” Kasun said.
Kasun and Gayantha, who immediately rushed to the hospital, had looked for the whereabouts of Malaka.
“As we were unable to find the room that Malaka was admitted to, we followed the officers of the Ministerial Security Division (MSD) who were walking in the corridor. However, the hospital security officer informed the MSD that we were following him,” Gayantha said. Kasun had proceeded to the floor where Malaka was admitted and had found Malaka’s room guarded by the police and the MSD. Kasun had not proceeded further, as they had the necessary information to write the story.
“I proceeded downstairs to meet Gayantha. I looked for him everywhere but couldn’t find him. However, when I called his mobile phone I could hear someone questioning him and at once I knew he was in serious trouble,” Kasun said.
“Thereafter, I immediately rushed towards Gayantha, and found him surrounded by the police,” he said. Apparently, Gayantha, who spotted Minister Mervyn Silva entering the hospital to check on his son, followed him till he was caught videoing the minister.
“I saw the hospital staff bringing Malaka out from the X-Ray room, and immediately switched on my phone camera and started videoing,” Gayantha explained.
Though he was discreetly videoing, a bodyguard had spotted him and tried to snatch the phone from his hand. The furious bodyguard then threatened Gayantha and had wanted him to show him the footage.
Gayantha said, “I told him that my friend is waiting at the entrance but the guard was asking for my identity and shouting at me, demanding that I show what I had captured on the phone. He kept demanding for the footage, while I came up with all sorts of excuses but he was determined to see the video footage. After a while, I was surrounded by a group of people who had come in with the minister.”
Gayantha was questioned by the angry bodyguard, and his ID card and phone were taken away from him. They had also attempted to delete all the data from Gayantha’s phone, before handing him over to the police following numerous threats, as they believed that Gayantha was part of the group who had assaulted Malaka.
“I told them that I am employed at Ceylon Today, but I was handed over to the police. Kasun and I were taken to the Slave Island Police, and then the police contacted one of our Directors who was known to the OIC. We were subsequently released. We were lucky to have the police coming to our rescue. If not, it would have been a different story altogether,” they quipped.