Escape from Gallella: Heightened scrutiny on drug addicts

All 13 escapees so far addicted 


By Hiranyada Dewasiri


Persons addicted to drugs would be subjected to heightened scrutiny and observation at quarantine centres as they have specifically been identified as a group of “potential escapees” following the escape of five Covid-19-positive detainees from the Gallella quarantine centre yesterday (31).

Police Media Spokesperson Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Ajith Rohana told The Morning last evening that drug addiction is the main reason behind quarantine centre and hospital escapes. 

“We will be paying special attention to potential escapees, who are mostly persons addicted to drugs. All 13 escapes reported so far were due to drug addiction,” he said, adding that evidence is being gathered to identify other potential escapees.

The detainees who escaped the Gallella quarantine centre at around 3.30 p.m. last morning were originally inmates of the Negombo Prison, and had travelled to the Polonnaruwa bus station from where they had taken a bus to Kurunegala. 

Kavidu Madushan, 27, who was one of the escapees, was captured in Madampe by the Madampe Police and health authorities last evening. DIG Rohana said that the detainee will first be sent to a hospital for treatment. 

“He may be sent to Kandakadu since that is the most secure place, but I cannot exactly say where he will be taken to.” 

The required security officers will be deployed to ensure that such escapes won’t be repeated, DIG Rohana said responding to questions about the state of security in such quarantine facilities. He added that investigations are being conducted to determine how the escape took place. 

“There is a small risk posed by the fact that they are criminals, but the risk is mostly the spread of Covid-19,” he said when asked about the threat these escapees pose to society. 

However, when asked whether going into quarantine centres would become a prison break strategy, the DIG stated that “they don’t contract Covid-19 intentionally”. 

The Police and Army are continuing operations to locate the four remaining Covid-19-positive detainees that escaped the quarantine facility in Gallella. Two escapees were convicted under drug abuse charges while each of the remaining three were convicted for rape, theft, and robbery, respectively.

The Police have released the details of the escapees and seek public assistance to trace the four remaining escapees. They have requested the general public to convey any information through the following numbers: HQI Polonnaruwa 071-8591233 or 119. 

The four remaining escapees are 31-year-old Dabagallage Buddhika Wimalaratne; 26-year-old Wijesuriya Arachchige Haritha Kelum Appuhami of 2nd Cross Road, Parushapara, Maravila; 52-year-old Imiya Mudiyanselage Nimal Wasantha alias “Gataya” of Ambagaha Kolaniya, Angampitiya, Waikkala; and 36-year-old P.K. Sumith Pushpakumara of No. 1291/A, Jayamawatha Road, Boralessa. 

The escapees are reported to have travelled to Kurunegala in a Polonnaruwa-Matara bus (NB-9268) that left for Colombo from Polonnaruwa at 5.45 a.m. yesterday. DIG Rohana requested the public who travelled in this bus to self-isolate and inform their public health inspectors (PHIs) immediately and that failing to do so would be considered an offence.