Former journalist Poddala Jayantha has requested Housing and Construction Minister Sajith Premadasa not to name a model village after him, as the culprits of assault on many Sri Lankan journalists still enjoy impunity.
Premadasa recently named four model villages in the Hambantota districts after Lasantha Wickrematunge, Keith Noyahr, Upali Tennakoon and Poddala Jayantha who were attacked by military-affiliated gangs under the watch of the Rajapaksa government. Wickrematunga succumbed to his fatal wounds while the other three fled the country.
Jayantha, a well-known media activist, was abducted by an armed gang that came in a white van. He was tortured by the abductors in an inhuman manner and was left to die on a street in a suburb close to Colombo.
The exiled journalist expressed disappointment with Premadasa’s attempt to further his political agenda by using the names of journalists who became victims of vicious attacks that still remain unresolved. “Justice will be served to when not when you name model villages after them, but when you probe the attacks on them and bring the perpetrators to book.”
Jayantha said he saw no meaning in naming villages after the journalists who came under attack without any serious attempt to apprehend the perpetrators.
He also added that the politicians should not name publicly-funded projects, such as model villages and housing projects, according to their own whims and fancies.
Jayantha, in his letter to Premadasa, said it was appalling that Sirasa, a media organization that came under several attacks under the Rajapaksa government, is now pointing fingers at civil society organizing demanding fair coverage. The journalist asked if Premadasa, a ‘favourite’ of Sirasa owner R. Rajamahendran alias Killi Maharaja, agreed with the media organization’s present conduct.
The journalist asked the Minister to request President Sirisena, who is often held in great respect by the Premadasa, to stop interfering with the investigations carried out by the Criminal Investigations Department. He said it was Sirisena who exerted pressure on senior Army officials and prevented them from divulging crucial information in relation to attacks against journalists.