Former Hambantota Mayor denies Colombo land grab allegations
a year ago
By Dinitha Rathnayake Former Hambantota Mayor Eraj Ravindra Fernando, who has been accused of illegally entering a private land in Kotelawala Avenue in Bambalapitiya and assaulting two private security guards, as well as being accused of forcibly seizing land in Kollupitiya with the help of a gang of thugs, has refuted all related allegations against him. Speaking to The Morning, Fernando rejected all allegations and claimed that he was not involved in the issue in Kollupitiya. “We only provide security for the place, but we have not removed any container house on this site. I can prove that. Some people want to drag my name into this issue.” Fernando also claimed that he is receiving death threats from those engaged in land grabs, and that he is therefore ready to reveal the identities of many of those who are involved in this racket soon. Tuan Asan Saleem, a father of nine children, has alleged that Fernando and thugs had removed their container-house with the support of the Police. Saleem and his family staged a protest in front of the Presidential Secretariat on 15 November, demanding justice for what had been done to them. He alleged that a group of thugs belonging to Fernando had assaulted him and his children, and destroyed the container-house where he was residing in Kollupitiya. Saleem also accused one Mohamed Siddique Mohamed Sheikh of being the mastermind behind the land grab. On 11 November, Saleem had lodged a complaint with the Kollupitiya Police, stating that he and his nine children who were living in a container house down 10th Lane, Galle Road, Kollupitiya were assaulted and dragged out of the house which was taken under a security institution owned by Fernando. Fernando was arrested in connection with the earlier incident in Bambalapitiya after he surrendered to the Bambalapitiya Police. Previously, the Hambantota High Court in 2019 sentenced Fernando to a term of rigorous imprisonment for threatening a group of United National Party (UNP) parliamentarians who were on a fact-finding mission to the Hambantota Port Complex in 2014, by throwing stones at them and pointing a pistol at them. The then Mayor claimed that it was a toy pistol. Moreover, former Attorney General President’s Counsel Dappula de Livera last year sought an immediate investigation into the forced seizure of lands of Sri Lankans living abroad by a politically influential group, which included Fernando.