A Police Special Task Force‘circular’ or leaflet sent out in support of President Mahinda Rajapaksa ahead of the January 26 Presidential election has sparked a political explosion.
In a letter to Police chief Mahinda Balasuriya, the opposition common candidate, Gen. Sarath Fonseka, has asked that immediate action be taken to remove the officers who had issued or endorsed the circular from their present duties.
“I also hold you responsible for the unlawful actions of your subordinate officers, as you have failed in your sacred duty in ensuring impartiality of the Police Force,” Gen. Fonseka said in the letter.
Speaking to the Sunday Times, Inspector General Balasuriya said the document in question had not been signed.
|The controversial circular with the STF seal
When the Sunday Times pointed out that the leaflet resembled a circular and that it bore endorsements by officers and the seal of Special Task Force (STF) units, the IGP said: “Anybody can fake a document.”
The leaflet exhorts STF personnel to “dedicate themselves to the victory of President Rajapaksa”, and bears the seal of the Deputy Inspector General of the Special Task Force. On the reverse of the leaflet are the purported signatures of STF Commandant, DIG K. L. M. Sarathchandra, and STF Senior Superintendent Ananda Gunatilleke.
When contacted by the Sunday Times, STF SSP Ananda Gunatilleke said he was not aware of such a document, as he had been ill and was in hospital for some time.
“I went through several election-related documents at the beginning of the month, but I do not recall signing this particular document,” SSP Gunatilleke said. “Even if there had been such a document, I would not have been party to it.”
One of the minutes in the document attributed to the STF Commandant carries instructions that the leaflet be distributed among STF camps in Vavuniya, Pottuvil, Batticaloa and Ampara.
Copies of the document have also been sent to the DIG Operations STF; the SSP Administration; the SSP Personnel; the SSP Transport; the SSP Communications; the SSP Welfare; the SSP Training, and the OIC, Gonahena. Copies were also sent to the SP Operations/VIP and all divisional heads of the Special Task Force.
Officials at Gen. Fonseka’s election office said they had obtained a copy of the leaflet from STF sources.“We have evidence to confirm that such a document was circulated among STF establishments, in gross violation of election laws,” an official there said.
Senior DIG Nimal Mediwaka said he was not aware of the leaflet. “If it is true, it should be investigated at the highest level, because it is a violation of election laws,” he said.
In his letter to Police Chief Balasuriya, Gen. Fonseka said: “I state that this circular is unlawful and in breach of the laws of this country, especially the Presidential Act, Police Ordinance, the Establishments Code and the Guidelines issued by the Commissioner General of Elections, which expressly prohibits all Police Officers from engaging in any political activity.”