For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya
By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema – Photos by Asoka Fernando
The directors of Voice of Asia, the broadcasting company of Siyatha TV and radio, suspect a hidden hand of a would-be competitor of the company, of carrying out the attack against Siyatha TV in the early hours of Friday (30).
Popular film actress and wife of Voice of Asia Director, Roshantha Kariyapperuma, Sangeetha Weeraratne told The Sunday Leader, “We have not gone against the government or the opposition. Our news has always been unbiased and impartial. There is no reason to believe that any one would want to harm us.”
However, she said that the company suspected a hidden hand of a would-be competitor behind Friday’s attack. “Definitely not anyone who is already established – but someone new,” she said, refusing however, to name any person or persons.
Reliable sources confided to The Sunday Leader that there is a strong suspicion that another company gearing to enter the TV broadcasting field, whose managing director’s brother is a government politician known for his strong arm tactics, to have had a hand in the Siyatha TV attack.
There is currently a staff of 280 employed at Voice of Asia Networks (Pvt) Ltd. The attack on Siyatha TV left two employees injured with a 65-year-old security guard suffering serious injuries to his head following a brutal assault on him by the group of 12 unidentified men, who had stormed the office on Friday morning.
Weeraratne said the company was still in its infant stages of construction and was still in the process of building. Therefore, the equipment at the network studios had not been insured and no tight security measures adopted.
The Sunday Leader has previously highlighted a rift between the Kariyapperumas and the Rajapaksas following the conclusion of the last presidential election.
Roshantha and brother Priyantha Kariyapperuma were at one time closely affiliated to President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his brothers. Priyantha was even appointed as the head of the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC).
However, this relationship soured during the last presidential election after one of the Rajapaksa siblings accused the Kariyapperumas of not working for President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s campaign, but instead supporting common presidential candidate, Retired General Sarath Fonseka.
The Kariyapperumas have defended their relationship with the former army commander, insisting they have been close friends with the Fonsekas for quite a while, before the latter decided to enter politics.
The Rajapaksa sibling had in fact reprimanded the Kariyapperumas when they had called to congratulate President Rajapaksa after his re-election in January.
Nevertheless, Weeraratne, when inquired if there was any ill-feeling between the two families, said there was no rift with the government and that they were all on the best of terms.