By Asiri Fernando
The Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) yesterday condemned ongoing attempts to arrest former minister Rishad Bathuideen, calling the move politically motivated.
Issuing a press release, SJB General Secretary Ranjith Madduma Bandara stated that Bathuideen, as the then Minister for Industry and Resettlement, had obtained written permission from the Ministries Project Office to obtain funding to hire buses from the Ceylon Transport Board (CTB) and transport displaced persons from Negombo to Mannar, to exercise their vote at the last Presidential elections.
“Further, the Chairman of the Election Commission, Mahinda Deshapriya had given written authorisation to the Chairman of the CTB to make the necessary arrangements to transport the displaced persons,” Bandara stated, pointing out that the Project Management unit of the Ministry had made the necessary payments for the service after the election was over.
“The Government is making baseless allegations regarding Rishard Bathuideen and have begun a staged drama by arresting a police officer who was assigned to protect him and by taking in custody fires arms which were issued by the state for his security. They are displaying these to the media and trying to mislead the public” Bandara charged, pointing out that such baseless allegations and the media publicity given to it is violating the human rights of those arrested.
Bandara argues that Bathuideen was only doing what was expected of him as the Minister for Industry and Resettlement, charging that the United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) is yet to settle Rs. 145 million in dues to the CTB for services during the said election.
He urged the Government not to engage in political victimisation and called on the Government to uphold the law.