President Maithripala Sirisena has ordered the suspension of the removal of illegal dwellings on the Mirissa beach, despite court orders being granted for the removal.
Sources said that three ministers led by Faizer Mustapha had called on the President to halt the removals, after the Coast Conservation Department (CCD) said they were to go ahead despite Mustapha’s attempts to influence.
Earlier in the month a group of Dutch tourists were sexually harassed and assaulted thereafter by waiters of an illegal restaurant in the area.
Following the reports many tourists and locals continued to detail incidents of harassment, sexual abuse and physical assault in Mirissa, on Social media.
The BBC SInhala in an investigative story on Mirissa dated 28th April 2018 detailed an experience of a British woman who was attempted to be raped after the Beach boys had drugged her boyfriend in 2018.
Many others said that the sexual and physical assaults were a common occurrence in the area.
However, following the revelations Mustapha had throughout objected to any moves to regulate Mirissa.
The CCD had identified 17 illegal structures operating in the area and had obtained court orders for demolition. However, Musthapaha issuing a press statement objected to it.
The tourism ministry does not fall under the purview of Mustapha nor is he a member representing the area.
Questions have been raised by many regarding Mustapha’s involvement. Police sources told the Colombo Telegraph that Mustapha is a frequent visitor of the area and that he was present on the night the most recent sexual and physical assault incidents had occured. CCTV footage viewed by Colombo Telegraph shows the minister and members of his entourage present at the party on April 8, 2018.
Sources from the CCD said that Mustapha had exerted enormous pressure on them to halt the removals. “He kept calling the Director and we said there is no provision to stop it”.
As soon as his influence was not yielding results he had reportedly sought the intervention of President Sirisena.