Govt. hunt for politicos’ weapons
The Government has launched a hunt for weapons in the possessions of defeated MPs and Provincial Councillors as part of a crackdown on increasing crime, official sources said yesterday.

Most of these weapons were revolvers. The Ministry of Public Security and Law and Order this week started dispatching letters to the defeated politicians, some of them who had obtained weapons for their security as far back as the 1988-90 period during the height of the JVP violence.

The move to collect weapons used by the ex-politicians is part of a two-month-long amnesty offered for persons to surrender all weapons held illegally or to obtain licenses for them, Secretary to the Ministry of Public Security and Law and Order, Tilak Ranaviraja told The Sunday Times.

According to official estimates over 30,000 weapons are being held illegally and among such possessors are ex-Parliamentarians and former Provincial Councilors.

This is the first time the government is writing to the ex-MPs and PC members who had not surrendered their weapons. The number of such ex-MPs and Provincial Councillors was not available immediately, but during the 1988-90 period almost all MPs and PC members were issued with weapons.

The Sunday Times learns that one of the immediate obstacles faced by the Ministry was tracing the defeated politicians who had sited their former official addresses including the MPs hostel at Madiwela.

The plan to recover the weapons comes in the wake of preparations by the Police to step up inquiries about politicians connected with the underworld. Police have already started collecting details of underworld gangs who are protected by politicians.

Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Crimes and Criminal Intelligence, Jayantha Wickremeratne will be in charge of the crackdown. DIG Wickremeratne told The Sunday Times that under the amnesty persons would be able to surrender their weapons to the respective District Secretaries and Divisional Secretaries.

For this exercise the Cabinet has approved a maximum payment of Rs. 50,000 per surrendered weapon. The Treasury has been asked to release the funds. Previous amnesties have drawn poor response. Former Interior Minister, John Amaratunga said he cold not rule out political motives behind this crackdown.

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