A Dispute between the villages and Wildlife officials of Bundala National Park has brokenout following a raid carried out by the officers recently.
The incident which occurred a month prior still remains unresolved as non of the suspects who created the dispute were arrested and legal action not taken against them, Environmentalists complained.
The incident had occurred when Wildlife officials had detained two individuals out of five persons who were illegally fishing within the park on Saturday May 28, 2022, but following that around 100 persons from the Pallemalla, Borallesa fishing village had stormed the Main Wildlife office at Bundala National park and assaulted officials.
The villagers have also managed to take away the two suspects' fishing gear as well as 150 kg of illegally caught fish. The assault had injured officer in charge, ranger P.M Vidanapathirana, Field Assistant K.M.D Chamara, multipurpose Development Assistant W.G Karunapala were admitted to Hambantota base hospital. Apart from that Assistant ranger Y.G Rangana, wildlife officer J.A Prageeth Sandamal and Field Assistant A Upul were also injured.
Environmental Researcher as well as the Convener of the Biodiversity Conservation and Research Circle of Sri Lanka Supun Lahiru Prakash said that even police complaints have been lodged over the incidents, yet arrests or legal actions have not been taken against 24 main suspects who assaulted wildlife officers.
“A month has passed yet persons responsible over the incident have not been arrested”, he said.
The Wildlife & Nature Protection Society (WNPS) letter stated that they have learned that the wildlife offices had complained to the Hambantota police and had given statements at three times.
They said that even though CCTV footage and affidavits were given by the wildlife officials, the police had not taken action against the suspects.
The latter also said that the WNPS condemns the action of the police.
However the police said that they had identified 16 persons who were involved in the incident according to information gathered.
Police Media Spokesman, SSP Nihal Thalduwa told the Times Online that the police had arrested five persons out of 16 suspects and were produced to Hambantota police. He added that apart from that a three-wheeler, lorry and some sticks used to attack the wildlife office.
Police explained that 11 suspects have left their homes and were told that they had gone to sea for fishing activities.
The Director General of the Wildlife Department, Chandana Suriyabandara told the Sunday Times that they are carrying out their investigations against the persons who illegally fished within the Bundala Park.The assault on our officials is a clear disruption of the duties of our officials and assault on state officials who work according to the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance. Therefore they are waiting until action is taken against persons who assaulted wildlife officers.