The commotion that was created when a group of police officers, some in uniform and others in civvies, attempted to arrest Medical Faculty Students' Action Committee (MFSAC) Convener Ryan Jayalath at the conclusion of a joint meeting by the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) and several other organisations to protest against the SAITM, ended in failure.
It was reported that Jayalath along with several other MFSAC representatives had attended a discussion organised by the ‘SAITM Virodi Jana Paura’, a recently formed anti-SAITM force at the GMOA office located at the OPA (Organisation of Professional Associations in Sri Lanka) building on Prof. Stanley Wijesundera Mawatha, Colombo 7.
The initial attempt to arrest Jayalath by a group of persons had met with failure due to protests from the crowd that had gathered at the venue. Subsequently, the Colombo Crime Division (CCD) with the help of the police, who arrived at the scene without an arrest warrant had attempted to take away the student however the attempt failed because those present at the venue intervened to stop it.
A tense situation arose when National Trade Union Centre (NTUC) Chairman K. D. Lal Kantha and the General Secretary of the Ceylon Teachers' Services Union Mahinda Jayasinghe attempted to prevent the police from taking Jayalath into custody. As a result the law enforcement officers were forced to leave the premises in a ‘white van’ without taking the MFSAC Convener into custody.
After the police left a student who pretended that he was Jayalath, had got into Lal Kantha’s vehicle to mislead the police personnel. However the actual Jayalath was seen escaping along with the crowd that had gathered.
When contacted, Colombo DIG Lalith Pathinayake told Daily Mirror that they believed the students had created a commotion to help Jayalath escape arrest.
He said Ryan Jayalath has four arrest warrants against him for evading the courts and he was also wanted for breaking and entering into the Health Ministry building. Therefore, DIG Pathinayake said it was not necessary to have an arrest warrant as the police already have the power to arrest him on sight.
Meanwhile, the Medical Faculty Students' Union, University of Sri Jayewardenepura also commenced an anti-SAITM rally to be held today over the government’s alleged attempt to suppress student union conveners. (Thilanka Kanakarathna)