High level probe into Mahara mayhem | Daily News

High level probe into Mahara mayhem

The government will find out who was behind the clashes and resultant destruction at the Mahara Prison and the CID has been entrusted with conducting investigations to determine if any hidden hand was behind this incident, Primary Health Services, Infectious Diseases and COVID-19 Prevention State Minister and former Prison Reforms and Prisoners’ Rehabilitation State Minister Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle said.

In addition, she said that a Committee headed by the Prison Reforms Ministry Secretary had been appointed to conduct a probe into the unrest. She assured that a comprehensive investigation will be conducted into the incident with the support of the police and other law enforcement agencies.

“The incident at the Mahara Prison was very unfortunate but this is not the only incident and recently there were many agitations being reported from several prisons. Recently we witnessed a similar incident at the Boossa Prison and when some prisoners attempted to break free from the Old Bogambara Prison where the prison guards had to open fire to prevent it which resulted in one inmate getting killed,” she explained.

Similarly, she said that there were protests at the Welikada, Kalutara, Negombo and Weerawila too and this seems to be a wave of protests at many of the prisons. “Today there are a large number of drug smugglers, underworld elements and even drug users who are imprisoned due to the ongoing operations against the drug menace by the government,” she said, adding that where around 11,000 prisoners should accommodated, today there are around 32,000 being housed creating a major overcrowding issue.

No sooner the Minuwangoda COVID cluster emerged, the Prisons Department implemented a special operation within prisons together with the Health Department, the Minister pointed out. “We barred all visitors from entering the prisons and we prevented food and other items being brought into the prisons. We even stopped them from being taken to courts and conducted these hearings through Skype.”

The first COVID positive prisoner was detected on October 27 at the Welikada Prison Hospital.

Family members gather near prison

A tense situation prevailed opposite the Mahara prison yesterday as family members of inmates gathered and demanded they be allowed to see their imprisoned relatives.

Four inmates of the Negombo prison began a protest yesterday evening demanding authorities to expedite trials against them.

IGP orders CID probe into riot

Defence Ministry Secretary Maj. Gen. (Retd) Kamal Gunaratne has instructed Inspector General of Police (IGP) C.D. Wickramaratne to probe into the tense situation that erupted at the Mahara Prison on Sunday.

The IGP has directed the Criminal Investigation Department to hold a full and immediate investigation into the unrest situation at the Prison, after several inmates were reportedly struggling to escape the prison premises amid the unruly behaviour.

“Initially, the Prison officers had got involved in easing the situation. However, when it was noticed that the incident escalated to an intense riot, they had summoned Police and Special Task Force to the premises, a statement issued by the Defence Ministry said yesterday. Police arrived at the scene and strengthened the security to the outer perimeter of the Prison. The agitated inmates set fire at the Prison Health Office and Stores areas that had raged until yesterday. The Prisons Department confirmed that the fire has been doused and routine Prison operations had resumed.

Eight dead,71inmates injured

Two prison officers critical

Dilshan Tharaka

A total of eight inmates of the Mahara Prison have died due to the unrest which had arisen at the Mahara Prison last Sunday.

Police Media Spokesperson DIG Ajith Rohana said that another 71 inmates had been injured in the unrest and in addition to that two prison officials are also in critical condition.

“All injured persons including two prison officials were admitted to the hospital for the treatments,” he added.

A tense situation had arisen at the Mahara Prison due to a clash between the prison guards and remand prisoners. A group of inmates had attempted to escape from the Mahara Prison after another group of the prison had contracted COVID-19.Inmates had also set fire and destroyed the property in a bid to distract prison officials.