Sri Lankan minister ties man to tree; government silent | world | Hindustan Times
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Sri Lankan minister ties man to tree; government silent

Public and political opinion is growing against controversial minister and MP Mervyn Silva who on Tuesday tied a public official to a tree for failing to attend a dengue eradication programme.

world Updated: Aug 05, 2010 20:46 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

Public and political opinion is growing against controversial minister and MP Mervyn Silva who on Tuesday tied a public official to a tree for failing to attend a dengue eradication programme.

Opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has already condemned Silva's action, saying it was against the country's Constitution as Silva's actions were meant to intentionally harm a person.

Reports on Thursday said that a group of government functionaries led by a senior cabinet minister could meet President Mahinda Rajapaksa and request him to take action against Silva.

An MP from the area of Kelaniya, Silva - who's known to have attacked media personnel and offices on several occasions - was leading an anti-dengue programme in his constituency. An official from a government-run poverty alleviation programme, Samurdhi, failed to turn up. When he did, Silva tied him to a tree and publicly chastised him.

The following day, the photograph of the incident was splashed in all newspapers, triggering strong reactions.

The government so far has only said that Silva's behaviour did not reflect its position.

Subsequently, other officials of the Samurdhi programme withdrew from the anti-dengue drive, saying that they would only rejoin if the minister was punished. A public-sector trade union added it would also stage protests outside government offices.

Silva has partly denied the accusation. According to him, the repentant man had tied himself to the tree. Silva also reportedly said he had tied the man so that he could escape the public's wrath.

It is unlikely though that any drastic action would be taken against Silva who would probably escape with a verbal reprimand.

At least 165 people have died of dengue this year while more than 21,000 have been infected.