Police Spokesman Jaliya Senarathna said that a single police officer present at a place where a motorbike rally takes place, cannot prevent it. He said that a decision must be taken only following an investigation into the incident.
The police spokesman made these comments referring to election candidates hosting motorbike rallies as part of their election campaigns. Senarathna said that if this trend continues to violate election and health regulations in place the Special Task Force would be deployed to prevent such rallies. He said however that there was no need for the transfer of Officers in Charge of the respective police stations.
He said that the police were unable to transfer OICs as requested by several election observers.
Videos and photographs of a Puttalam district candidate riding a motorbike sans a vehicle registartion plate have been released to social media. The candidate who was seen canvassing for the election was also observed to be without a helmet in the material released onilne.
The former MP and other participants at the event were also seen without a face mask, violating the recently gazetted election guidelines.
The Election Commission said strict action would be taken against the event’s organisers and participants . Such events are held to intimate the public and such behaviour of candidates during a pandemic period is unacceptable, several election observation groups stated.
“The Inspector General of Police has instructed the relevant officers to carry out an investigation into this incident. Just because a single police officer was present at this event, this kind of motorbike rally cannot be prevented,” the Police spokesman said.
“A decision would be taken only after an investigation into the incident. We have directed the relevant officials to evaluate if there have been lapses on part of the police officers responsible. Despite requests from election observers to transfer the relevant officers, that cannot be done at this time,” he added.
He said that police officers were imperative in election activities including duties at polling centres, mobile observation units as well as maintaining relationships with election officers. “If police officers are transferred at this moment, the new officers would have to be reintroduced to the process. This would be an impediment to a just election. If the situation worsens we can deploy the STF, but there is no need to transfer the Officers in Charge,” Senarathna said.