Tuesday, March 23, 2010

MTV attack: Police take their time

by Shamindra Ferdinando - A group of men yesterday (March 22) afternoon pelted stones at the head office of the Sirasa TV and Radio at Braybrooke Place, Colombo causing damages to some vehicles parked in the premises.

A section of the employees retaliated by throwing back the stones at the attackers before the police intervened. The television interrupted its regular programme to telecast the attack in the presence of the police and the arrest of some of the attackers.

Director of Information Anusha Palpita told The Island that about 100 to 200 persons had launched a protest outside Sirasa premises before some of them launched the attack.

The Braybrook Place office had been targeted earlier. During yesterday’s incident several Sirasa employees received injuries.

A heavily armed gang caused heavy damage in a raid on Sirasa studios at Pannipitiya in January 2008. The police are yet to arrest the culprits, who carried out the attack.

A senior spokesperson for Sirasa told The Island that they had thwarted an attempt by the attackers to storm the premises. He said that the attackers had caused heavy damage before the police responded to their pleas for help. Had they intervened immediately, the attack could have been averted, he said.

Justice and Law Reforms Minister Milinda Moragoda and Asath Sally, both UPFA candidates contesting from Colombo, visited the Sirasa offices, where they condemned the attack. They said that the perpetrators of this attack should be arrested. UNP Deputy Leader Karu Jayasuriya and JVP frontliner Sunil Handunetti, too, visited the scene.

Police headquarters spokesman SSP Prishantha Jayakody told The Island that persons engaged in the protest had shouted slogans and carried placards against a live performance in Colombo by top US artiste, Akon. He said that the police had baton charged the unruly crowd and arrested several attackers. The TV footage included scenes of senior police officers kicking some of the attackers and pushing them into police vehicles.

Akon performed in India about a week ago at the invitation of Shah Ruk Khan. Akon’s performance in Colombo at the SSC grounds on April 24 is arranged by Platinum Entertainment (Pvt) Ltd, and MTV/MBC. Sources said that there had been protests against an Akon hit showing scantily clad women dancing near a Buddha statue.

Sirasa showed some of the attackers arriving at the scene in an SLTB bus, which the station claimed was attached to the Kelaniya SLTB depot. Sirasa sources told The Island that the police could have seized the bus, though they allowed it to leave with the majority of attackers. Sources said that a section of the attackers had come in vehicles.

© The Island

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