This is NOT the person who was serving as OIC of Rambukkana police during recent protests!

Misleading Social

Police assault and using live bullets on protestors during the recent Rambukkana protest was condemned heavily both locally and internationally as well. One person who got shot subsequently died and social media streams were flooded with messages filled with hatred towards the OIC (Officer in Charge) and other officials of the Rambukkana police. However, our investigation proved that the images which went viral were related to the former OIC of Rambukkana, who had been transferred to a different location a few months ago.

Social Media Posts

Collection of images claiming to be the Rambukkana OIC alongside his family went viral on Facebook as seen below. The post implied that the images belonged to the OIC of Rambukkana who gave the order to use live ammunition on the youth in Rambukkana. A mobile number was also shared requesting public to call him and inquire about the reasons for the shooting

Facebook | Archived Facebook | Archived  

Many other images of the same person, and his family were widely circulated as seen below.

Fact Check

Rambukkana, is a town located in the Kegalle District, in the Sabaragamuwa Province in Sri Lanka, in close proximity to the world-famous Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage.

A protest which started on 18th April extended into the following day when protestors in Rambukkana blocked a fuel bowser, near a railway line, expressing their dismay over the fuel price hike and demanded the fuel bowser to turn back. The situation escalated and Rambukkana police had taken steps to disperse the crowd, during which one of the locals was shot using live ammunition. More on the events which took place on the 19th given here

The Rambukkana OIC had been strongly criticized, claiming that he had given the order to carry out the shooting, and photos of alleged OIC went viral on social media as mentioned above.

Our attention was drawn to a Facebook post posted by Darshana Kuruppu, Senior Advocate of the Bar Association, who stated that the Facebook posts claiming to be the Rambukkana OIC shows a former OIC of the Rambukkana Police station, who is currently working at another police station.

Facebook | Archived

Also, a few social media posts named the alleged OIC as Malcolm Pate and accordingly, our attention was drawn to a Facebook post by Malcolm Pate, on a Facebook group called API RAMBUKKANA. He stated that he had been attached to the Batticaloa Police Station for about a month and requested the public to stop troubling him regarding this matter.

Facebook | Archived

As the number displayed in the viral social media posts was switched off or not responding, we contacted the Kalkudah-Pasikudah Police Station in Batticaloa, who confirmed that Malcolm Pate had been attached to the Pasikudah Tourist Police Unit for about a month now. Through Kalkudah-Pasikudah Police Station, we got another contact number of Malcolm Pate and he clarified the events regarding this mistaken identity.

Malcolm Pate said that the viral social media posts targeting himself and his family have become a big nuisance and that he had no connection regarding the shooting of the protestors in Rambukkana. Mr. Pate clarified that he did in fact serve as the OIC of Rambukkana last year (2021) yet he had been transferred to the Hanguranketha Police Station in December 2021 and later on got a posting at the Pasikudah Tourist Police Unit, where he is serving at present.

We found most of the images which had been used for social media posts from Malcolm Pate’s Facebook profile as well. Below is the image which had been shared widely of Malcom Pate, which was seen here in his FB profile as well.

Few news articles in 2021 listed the OIC of Rambukkana as Malcom Pate as seen here. Yet the name listed in the more recent articles was different from Malcom Pate.

As a few social media posts had suggested, we confirmed the officer serving as the OIC of Rambukkana police station during the protest was Kinsley Herath. This was confirmed by news items reported in early 2022 as well as from the footage of Kinslye Herath speaking during the Rambukkana protests were also seen here. (06.06)

In responses to the shooting incident in Rambukkana, an investigation has been initiated by the criminal investigation department and Rambukkana OIC with two other senior officers who were serving at the time of the incident, were transferred to other areas. A report about this can be read from here.

The fact check we did from Sinhala language about this can be read from here.

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Conclusion:

Our investigation shows that the photos viral social media attribute to Mr. Elmo Malcom Pate, the former OIC who was attached to the Rambukkana Police Station untill December 2021. He was serving at the Pasikudah Tourist Police Unit in Batticaloa at the time of Rambukkana protests. Chief Inspector Kingsley Herath was serving as the OIC of the Rambukkana Police station during the protest on April 19th

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Title:This is NOT the person who was serving as OIC of Rambukkana police during recent protests!

Fact Check By: Kalana Krishantha 

Result: Misleading

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