For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya

Police inaction on Siyatha attack

By Kamani Hettiarachchi and Gayan Kumara Weerasinghe

Kariyapperuma family members, owners of Siyatha TV yesterday told media that they will not cow down to intimidatory tactics, after their Siyatha TV office was attacked
According to reliable sources, police have so far failed to launch an inquiry into Fridays arson attack directed at the Siyatha TV and Radio station situated at Hunupitiya, Colombo 2, and owned by popular film actress Sangeetha Weerarathna and her husband Roshantha Kariyapperuma.
The investigations into this arson attack on the Siyatha media group have been handed over to the Slave Island police but they have clearly failed to move in the matter so far.
Before this latest arson attack directed at Siyatha TV and Radio, there had been similar attacks launched at the Sirasa TV, another newspaper printing press and the Lanka newspaper office in the recent past. Now Siyatha TV and Radio has joined the list of media under seige, after an unidentified group had arrived in a vehicle and thrown petrol bombs at the broadcast station of this media outlet, early moning, July 30.
This unidentified group which had comprised of around 12 individuals had first attacked a security officer at the main gate before proceeding to accost two persons on the night news shift (Bharathi Rajinikanth and Lenin Raj) and then had destroyed the Siyatha TV programme division with petrol bombs.
The first building which came under attack had not suffered much damage but two of the storeys in the second building where Siyatha TV was operating had been badly damaged with the library, operational section, cassettes and cameras being destroyed in the process.
The administration department had also suffered severe damage. Speaking to this newspaper Siyatha news manager Udithamal Hemachandra said that as a result of the arson attack the TV station would not be able to restore its transmission, but insisted that the three radio channels were functioning as of now.

Difficult to imagine

He added that it was difficult to imagine as to who would have wanted to silence them, considering their neutral media policy sans bias to any political party, and said the assailants had worn face masks to conceal identity.
Police media spokesman Prishantha Jayakody pointed out that the police department had taken steps to immediately send a team from Slave Island to the location no sooner than they had received a call to police emergency number 119 — and furthermore had taken measures to send a squad from the fire brigade to douse the fire.
However, the Director General of the National Security Centre Lakshman Hulugalle insisted that there was clearly a conspiracy behind this arson attack on Siyatha TV.
Several media organizations have issued statements condemning the attack on Siyatha TV with most of them being of the opinion that while it is the onerous duty of all media in this country to stick to accepted norms and principles of the profession, that there were certain quarters which are still looking with jaundiced eyes and with vengeance in their heart at certain media institutions, which do not conform to their views.

August 2010
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