BY P. Waravita
Three youths were arrested in connection to the fire at Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe’s private residence at 5th Lane last Saturday (9) night and have been remanded until 20 July by the Fort Magistrate’s Court.
“Three people were arrested yesterday – one is 19 years old, the other 21 years, and the third 24 years,” Police Spokesperson Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) and Attorney-at-Law Nihal Thalduwa told The Morning yesterday (10).
SSP Thalduwa said that the three were arrested at the property of Wickremesinghe.
Last Saturday (9), hundreds of thousands of people descended upon the “GotaGoGama” protest site at Galle Face Green, where they ultimately took over the Presidential Secretariat, the official residence of the President, and Temple Trees – the official residence of the Prime Minister. The three buildings remain occupied, with key protestors stating that they would remain occupied until President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s official resignation, which Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena has stated will happen on Wednesday (13).
Later that night, protestors were tear-gassed outside the private residence of Wickremesinghe at Fifth Lane, while four journalists attached to a private media organisation were also assaulted by the Special Task Forces (STF). The fire started shortly afterwards.
Meanwhile, the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) said yesterday that the investigations will be conducted to find out why power was unavailable at Fifth Lane during the time of the incident.
“No power cuts were scheduled after 6 p.m. islandwide and therefore proper investigation will be conducted by PUCSL to reveal the truth behind the non-availability of power during the event,” said PUCSL Chairman Janaka Rathnayake.
A protestor occupying the official residence of the President told the media yesterday that they are part of a peaceful struggle and that they had no reason to set fire to Wickremesinghe’s house.
“Even now, petrol comes inside and goes out from this residence too. That is why we have to be extra vigilant. This is our property and we do not want it to be destroyed. We did not win this struggle to destroy these things,” he said.
Wickremesinghe has issued a statement expressing regret over the assault on journalists outside his residence.
Meanwhile, Opposition and Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Leader Sajith Premadasa said that he strongly condemns the attack on Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe’s residence.
He said that everyone involved in the incident should be punished through a fair investigation regardless of their positions.
Issuing a statement yesterday, Premadasa said that he unconditionally opposes the destruction of property and disturbances caused to people’s lives by a certain group of saboteurs hiding behind the peaceful struggle.
The Opposition Leader requested the people to be aware of the external forces that are trying to “add a black stain” to the citizen’s struggle that has been carried out carefully for a peaceful country.