Several months prior to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) was held in November 2013 in Colombo, a massive operation to make the city of Colombo look clean and attractive for the event, was implemented by the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development.
Part of this operation was to remove nearly 300 homeless dogs from the streets, and house them in temporary shelters. The organisation for Animal Rights and Welfare ‘Ahinsa Sri Lanka’ was told by the Colombo Municipality, that the dogs will be released in the areas they were taken from, soon after CHOGM ended.
This assurance was made public, through newspapers and websites prior to CHOGM. But at the latest news conference held in this regard, Animal Rights Activist and the Chairperson of the Animal Welfare Trust Iranganie de Silva,( wife of Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva) disclosed, that these dogs numbering 280, had been taken in vehicles belonging to the Armed Forces to Halavatha. ” we can assume that the dogs were killed as they have disappeared from the Dematagoda slaughterhouse without any trace and there was no transparency on the part of the CMC on what they did to the dogs” she said.
Iranganie De Silva claims that despite a Presidential order banning the killing of street dogs, the Colombo Municipality had totally disregarded it. Therefore, the killing of these innocent animals is totally illegal, she states.
Though the Colombo Municipal Commissioner Badrani Jayawardena promised ‘Ahinsa Sri Lanka’ to protect these dogs from any harm and to release them after CHOGM concludd, de Silva claims that they were hoodwinked and lied to.
When Animal Rights Activist Sagarika Rajakarunanayake , President of ‘Sathva Mithra’ and Iranganie de Silva visited the Dematagoda Slaughter House to check on the welfare of the dogs being kept there, they found that the dogs had no food nor water. Further, the dogs were packed into confined spaces, cramped on top of each other.
When the owners of some of these dogs came to claim their pets, some of the workers and officers at the Slaughterhouse had demanded bribes.
When the Police was called to the scene, the Municipal Commissioner had claimed that arrangements had been made to take the dogs to Anuradhapura and release them there. It was assumed that the dogs would most probably be taken to the canine sanctuary maintained by the Anuraddhapura Municipality in Mihintale.
Animal Rights activists then demanded that the dogs be released in the areas they had been taken from and were familiar with. The Municipal Commissioner had promised to do so.
However what has happened today is something totally different, cruel and inhuman, says Iranganie de Silva. She claims that she assumed, since her husband Nimal Siripala de Silva was a senior Minister in the government, she would be able to save these dogs, but the Colombo Municipality couldn’t care less.
She further states, that according to information received by her organisation, the dogs in the custody of the Colombo Municipal Commissioner Badrani Jayawardena, had without her involvement, been taken away. “In order to do such things there has to be the backing of a very powerful person” she said.