Fresh attack sparks Rupavahini protest

Assistant Director and union leader seriously injured as Mervyn Silva drama continues

By Yohan Perera, Sandun Jayasekera and Senaka de Silva

The drama surrounding the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation continued yesterday with the staff  suspending live broadcasts last morning except for the news bulletins after two men on a motorbike allegedly assaulted another SLRC official.

Arunasiri Hettige, the Assistant Director Supplies and a trade unionist, was allegedly assaulted with an iron rod while waiting for a bus at Kotikawatte.

“I was waiting for a bus to get to office in the morning at a bus halt between IDH Junction and Kotikawatta. At about 8:50 am a pillion rider on a motor cycle that rode past me hit me with an iron rod. Taken unawares I received the full force of the blow on my neck and some passers by rushed me to the emergency ward of the National Hospital,” Mr. Hettige said from his hospital bed.

He was admitted to the National Hospital with a deep neck wound that required 10 sutures and was placed under observation with a scan being done to determine the treatment and the extent of his injuries, Hospital Director Dr. Hector Weerasinghe told the Daily Mirror.

“He will be kept under medical observation and treatment prescribed after we look at the scan report,” a medical officer at the Emergency Service said.

Following the incident which the staff believe could be another episode in the Mervyn Silva drama, the SLRC Program Producers Union President Chanchala Marasinghe said they had decided to stop all Rupavahini programmes except for news bulletins until such time President Mahinda Rajapaksa intervened to end the string of attacks on SLRC employees

The SLRC Union earlier warned it would go on an all-out work stoppage if the government failed to provide better security.

The Union had requested Deputy Inspector General M.K. Ilangakoon to carry out an investigation and arrest the culprits while the Police Chief was scheduled to meet to unions to discuss the latest crisis.

Mr. Hettige is said to have attended a discussion the Rupavahini Trade union representatives had with Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and DIG Ilangakoon on Thursday over threats faced by SLRC employees.

The Welampitiya police have started investigations and statement recorded from eyewitnesses.

This is the fourth in a series of attacks on various SLRC employees following the incident where non cabinet labour minister Mervyn Silva and his bodyguards stormed into the SLRC on December 27 and allegedly assaulted its news director over the failure to broadcast Mr. Silva’s speech.

Meanwhile Non Cabinet Media Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardene said the assault was regrettable as it was only three days ago that a meeting was held with the Rupavihini unions where the they agreed to work with the government in providing security to all SLRC employees.

The Minister said he and Media Minister Anura Priyadharashna Yapa met the President and discussed this matter and he instructed the Defence Secretary to direct all police stations to carry out immediate investigations and arrest the miscreants.

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