The Police have increased rounding up and intelligence gathering operations in the North to apprehend members of sword gangs terrorising the area and STF motorcycle squads have also been deployed in Jaffna round the clock to ensure the safety of civilians, Northern Province Senior DIG Roshan Fernando said.
Speaking to the Daily News, Fernando said this was nothing new as the police have been arresting the sword gang members over the past few months. But when they are produced in court, they are released on bail after a few weeks. “Hence, they come back and revert to the same activities. Most of the sword gang members are those whom we arrested last year, but they have been released by the courts. Some of them caught by the police and produced in court don’t want to go back to these gang activities, but due to pressure from other gang members and their situation of being unemployed, they are compelled to join these gangs as they are threatened if they don’t,” he said.
There are ten specially trained Police STF motorcycle riders in addition to several other motorcycle units from Jaffna included in this unit which would be deployed to patrol the areas 24 hours.
He also noted that the leave of all police personnel had been cancelled to facilitate this special operation.
He further noted that an additional contingent of police intelligence officers in plain clothes have also been deployed in areas where the highest number of sword related incidents have been reported, namely Kopai, Manipai and Chavakachcheri.
He noted that it was a small group of sword wielding criminals who were terrorising the people and committing various robberies and crimes, but assured that these gangs would be apprehended by the police and brought to book very soon.
According to the Senior DIG, all police officers deployed for duty have been issued specific instructions and ordered to arrest anyone engaged in these unlawful activities irrespective of their positions or status.
Meanwhile, Army Commander Lt. Gen. Mahesh Senanayake on a visit to Jaffna pooh-phooed as completely false reports that the Jaffna Fort had been declared “out of bounds” for the Army.
The Army Commander denied these reports speaking to the media after a tour of the Jaffna Fort. He was responding to a statement made by Parliamentarian Rohitha Abeywardena quoting a media report recently.
“I wish to state that the Army had been in deployment in this area for a considerable period and this is not the first time the Army has shown its presence within the Jaffna Fort,” the Commander said. The Army will continue to be stationed in the Fort area as usual and it has no reason whatsoever to leave the Fort, he said. The Army will also receive any citizen or institution visiting the Fort with open arms and it will always be ready to co-operate with them.
The Army Commander aid “while travelling from Katunayake to Palaly I took the opportunity to have a discussion with Northern Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran. During the discussions, we first focused on security matters as well as the release of land to the ordinary citizens and how quickly it could be done,” the Commander added.