Once it was lost, then found, but now it’s in pieces
The controversy over the laying of the foundation stone at Mahagedara for the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) Headquarters at Battaramulla reached its climax last week when an unidentified group vandalized the plaque and allegedly stole the bronze plate.

The plaque, reported to have gone missing earlier which incident was later denied by SLFP bigwigs, had been broken into pieces while it was under police protection. The Police personnel on duty say they did not see any one entering the area as it was raining heavily and visibility was poor at the time the incident is said to have taken place.

Western Province Minister and Organizing Committee Chairperson Hector Bethmage told The Sunday Times the plaque was vandalized by some unknown group allegedly with malicious intentions to undermine his standing within the party, weaken him politically and jeopardize the stability of the party.

Mr. Bethmage said the police guard however are said to have spotted some people whom the police now believe may have been the culprits leaving the area but were unable to apprehend them.

He said soon after the incident he had lodged a formal complaint at the Thalangama Police station stating an unknown group had allegedly damaged the plaque and stolen the bronze plate that was fixed to it and valued at Rs. 125,000.

But to date the Police have not reported of any new developments with regard to the investigations, Mr. Bethmage said. However, an insider, contradicting Minister Bethmage's statement to the Police said the bronze plaque was safe and could be seen at the Darley Road SLFP Headquarters, as the plaque had been removed earlier.

The insider said it was not removed to add Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse's name as some others allege because the Prime Minister himself had approved the design some time earlier. Mr. Rajapakse had approved the design during a function held at President's House to launch the 'Maha Gedera Construction Fund' some two weeks before the laying of the foundation stone.

However this person said that the 'positive', which was used to make the plate, had gone missing. Thalangama police OIC Amith Gunaratne said the police assistant on duty at the time of the incident had not seen anything untoward happening.

Inspector Gunaratne said the Thalangama police had conducted the preliminary investigations and the case had now been handed over to Homagama police Senior Superintendent Wickrema Perera under the purview of DIG K.P.P. Pathirana, although he said he was unaware as to why it was handed over to a DIG. DIG Pathirana was unavailable for comment as he was abroad.

It was earlier reported that the plaque went missing on September 2, two days after the laying of the foundation stone. A renowned craftsman Rahul Perera the designer of the brass plaque had said that under the supervision of SLFP he had removed the plaque for wax polishing and lacquering.

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