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Ranjan, Anuruddha in fisticuffs

Deputy Minister Ranjan Ramanayake and Gampaha District MP Indika Anuruddha in the commotion.

The Divulapitiya Pradesheeya Sabha Coordinating Meeting was suspended amidst much commotion yesterday as an argument between Social Empowerment and Welfare Deputy Minister Ranjan Ramanayake and Gampaha District MP Indika Anuruddha led to a scuffle.

The meeting was called at 3pm under the oversight of Ramanayake and Western Provincial Councillor Chandana Jayakody, who are co-chairmen of the committee. Divisional Secretary, H.M.L.S. Herath involved in the Akaragama earth excavation incident was also present.

At 5pm, however, discussions turned to the granting of licences to sand, clay and rock mining. Ramanayake then brought up the incident of sand mining in Waraadala and questioned Kotadeniyawa Police OIC D.D. Wickramasinghe on it. The OIC replied that he had raided the place and that a report on it had been forwarded to the District Secretariat through the Negombo Police Director.

In this instance, Anuruddha mentioned that the committee had received many petitions prior to this too and it was just rumours that those who have been granted the licence to mine 500cm3 were mining 60,000 cm3. With the latter being a statement made by the President in the soil excavation case in Divulapitiya, Ramanyake asked Anuruddha not to speak about it as none could counter the President’s statement. Anuruddha, however, insisted that he would speak on the matter to which Ramanayake reminded that it was he who was chairman of the meeting. Ramanayake added that he would continue to speak on behalf of the Divulapitiya people and that 48 people have thus far been killed due to the case and that he would not mind being the 49th. The Deputy Minister also took a swipe at Anuruddha to allege that he too was hand in glove with the illegal miners.

He asked that the MP make the statement that he took Rs 14 million for soil excavation, which he made under cover of privileges in Parliament, at the meeting. This fired up an argument between the two which led to supporters from both sides rushing into the aid of the other and causing fisticuffs. The police, ministerial security, Councillor Chandana Jayakody, MP Edward Gunasekara tried their best to separate the two. The fight lasted for around 45 minutes by which time meeting was suspended.