FACT CHECK: Did a ‘political thug’ of Minister Prasanna Ranatunga assault a woman officer at the Udugampola Provincial RDA Office?

False Political

Since November 24th, a video showing a female officer in Udugampola being assaulted by a man is being shared widely on social media. 

Many of the users who shared this video raised concerns over such an act and sought details of the incident and inquired whether there was some political plot behind it. Some of the posts claimed that the attack was carried out by a political thug of Minister Prasanna Ranatunga.

However, our investigation revealed that the attack was in fact the result of a long-running personal dispute and not related to Minister Ranatunga 

SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS:

The video shown below has been interpreted as an engineer attacking his female co-worker of the Udugampola office of the Western Provincial Road Development dared to commit such an act only due to his links with SLPP Minister Prasanna Ranatunga.

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Several others reported the incident under the theme “Prasanna Ranatunga’s Udugampola followers beating women – here is the video”. Link | Link 2 | Link 3

Fact Check 

We sought information from several parties regarding the above incident like the Police who are investigating the matter and the Minister himself. We also analyzed several media reports as well. Here is what we were able to find out:

The Gampaha Police OIC:

We first inquired from the Gampaha OIC regarding this incident. Police told us that, on 25th November that they had obtained the statements of the woman and the engineer who attacked her. The Engineer was in in police custody at that time. From their preliminary investigation, it was clear that the incident was the result of a long-running dispute between the two of them. 

The OIC confirmed to us that no politician is involved in the matter and the case is being heard on charges of criminal assault.

Media Secretary to Minister Prasanna Ranatunga:

We also inquired about this incident from the Media Secretary of Minister Prasanna Ranatunga. He stated that the engineer, who was the head of the Udugampola Road Development Authority, was reporting to work from his hometown in Kegalle and confirmed that he was in no way involved in the SLPP activities in the Gampaha District.

He further stated that the person involved in the incident is not a member of the Engineering Association affiliated to SLPP in the Gampaha District nor a person who has any connection with it. We learned that the engineer had been appointed to this Udugampola office in November 2010 and Minister Prasanna Ranatunga had no involvement in that appointment either.

The Media Secretary reiterated that he was not a member of the SLPP in the Gampaha District either, adding that his party strongly condemns such attacks. He also said Udugampola Road Development Authority office is the land adjacent to Minister Prasanna Ranatunga’s land and hence opposition parties have carried out this false propaganda.

Statement by the Minister:

Below is a part of the English translation of the statement issued by Minister Prasanna Ranatunga in response to these allegations

“I condemn with great contempt the attack on the manager (engineer) of the Udugampola office of the Provincial Road Development Authority.

I am a father of three daughters. I am always against all forms of violence against women. Therefore, I strongly condemn this incident and emphasize that this person should be punished regardless of his rank. 

It seems that some social media outlets are spreading rumors that I am involved in this incident and that the official involved is an associate of mine. The people in the opposition are spreading this misinformation to embarrass the government and me….”

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Media Reports:

State Minister Nimal Lansa stated in Parliament on 25th November that the engineer responsible for the attack has been interdicted as well. None of the media reports covering the incident mentioned it as politically motivated.

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Ada Derana | Newsfirst

Conclusion 

Our investigation reveals that the person seen in the viral video assaulting the woman is the Chief Engineer of the Udugampola office of the Western Provincial Road Development Authority. He is currently under police custody. 

Preliminary investigations by the Gampaha Police have revealed that the incident had taken place due to a long-running dispute between the Chief Engineer and his co-worker. SLPP has confirmed that the engineer who was responsible for this act is not a close associate of Minister Prasanna Ranatunga nor an active member of the Gampaha District wing of the party.

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Title:Did a ‘political thug’ of Minister Prasanna Ranatunga assault a woman officer at the Udugampola Provincial RDA Office?

Fact Check By: Shanaya Seneviratne 

Result: False

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