The Bloody Lanzas
- Violence expected in Negomobo during MC Elections
By Nirmala Kannangara in Negombo
Photos by Asoka Fernando and Thusitha Kumara
Number of eligible voters – 100,283
Number of polling booths – 64
The once calm and tranquil town of Negombo better known as ‘Little Rome’ is expected to be plagued with thuggery and violence in the run up to the October 8 Municipal Council election.
Although officially Negombo police do not agree with this theory, police sources on the basis of anonymity confirmed to The Sunday Leader that they are getting ready to deal with the situation.
“Through first-hand experience we are predicting that there will be a blood bath during the pre and post election periods. We expect in-house fights – in the UPFA camp for preferential votes,” the sources said.
Out of the three main political parties, the JVP has taken a complete back seat in Negombo. There was neither a red flag nor a poster to be seen. Even the Negombo voters with whom The Sunday Leader spoke with are not certain whether the JVP is contesting for the Negombo Municipal Council.
Although it was not exactly the same with the UNP, one wonders whether they too have given up the battle well ahead of the election. While there were UNP posters pasted on the walls in the town center and even in the interior, the party did not seem to be as active as the UPFA.
However UNP Chief Organiser for Negombo Dr. Jayalath Jayawardene is of the view that the UNP is neither silent nor has it taken a back seat, and is very active in organising the campaign.
“We have put our most energetic team forward this time and they are getting ready to put up a good fight as the Negombo people are now fed up with thuggery politics,” Dr. Jayawardene told The Sunday Leader.
Meanwhile UPFA Chief Organiser for Negombo and State Resources and Enterprise Development Deputy Minister Sarath Gunaratne said that he has planned to put a complete stop to all illegal activities in Negombo after the election victory.
“Ours is a party that people love in this country. Despite all this, our party members have brought disrepute to Negombo by engaging in many illegal businesses, mainly running brothel houses. I will not allow anyone from our camp to engage in illegal businesses. It is a well-known secret as to how these people extort money and run illegal businesses in and around the town and this has now become a cancer,” said Gunaratne.
However Dayan Lanza the brother of Provincial Minister Nimal Lanza and Ramona, cousin sister of Dayan Lanza are contesting in the Negombo MC elections.
Ramona’s husband, Mark Sujith who is presently serving a jail term for a suspected murder contested the previous MC elections under the UNP. After winning the election, he crossed over to the ruling party at the request of his wife’s cousin Nimal Lanza. Although Mark Sujith too had sought nomination it is said that he was denied it because he is serving a jail term.
Although the Negombo police have removed cut outs and billboards of candidates in the town center, they have failed to abide by the election law in the interior areas. While huge cut outs of UPFA candidates can be seen along by-roads none of the UNP cut outs were visible.
Meanwhile allegations have been leveled against the Lanzas’ who are a powerful family in Negombo. Nimal Lanza who was the Negombo Mayor at one time is the present Provincial Minister for Road Development, Tourism, Housing, Animal Production and Fisheries while his father Pilendran Lanza is allegedly involved in extorting money from fishermen. It is also alleged that he has obtained an illegal contract to collect money from the vehicle park at the fish market and is running two brothel houses under the guise of massage palours.
“Who is there to take action against the Lanzas’ in Negombo? Either the Negombo police are deaf and blind or all the top brass in the police are Lanza stooges,” a three-wheeler driver said.
According to him, all three-wheelers had to carry a campaign sticker of Dayan Lanza, the younger brother of Nimal Lanza who is contesting the MC elections
“In the event we fail to paste the sticker we have been told that we will be prohibited from parking our three-wheelers in the allocated stand. Therefore willingly or unwillingly we have had to paste this sticker on our vehicles,” he said on condition of anonymity.
It was surprising to note the many by-lanes that were under construction, the work of the Provincial Road Development Authority (PRDA) which comes under Nimal Lanza.
When The Sunday Leader captured photos of 7th Lane, Nimala Maria Mawatha where concrete was being laid, a man said to be from the neighboured questioned us as to why we were photographing this work. He went on to say that Nimal Lanza had deployed him to see whether the media will arrive to highlight the ‘sudden developments’.
However a PRDA officer and workers confirmed to The Sunday Leader that these sudden ‘development works’ began soon after the elections were announced and further claimed that their target is to concrete as many by-lanes as possible till the municipal elections.
Although it is the PRDA that is footing the bill on these road developments,it is interesting to see Dayan Lanza’s photo being displayed at the entrance of every recently concreted road.
“The elder brother is the Minister in charge of the PRDA and the younger brother’s photo is displayed all over to show that it was Dayan Lanza that got these roads concreted,” an angry villager told The Sunday Leader.
When asked as to whether these road developments have been targeted towards his brother Dayan Lanza’s election campaign, Minister Nimal Lanza said that it was an ongoing project and not an election gimmick.
However when asked as to why his brother’s photo has been displayed Minister Lanza wanted this newspaper to ask the neighboured. “I have never asked my officials to do that. Since I am doing some work for this town people may have decided to put up Dayan’s photograph. An act I am not responsible for,” he said.
Meanwhile UNP candidates Royce Wijitha and Lucky Fernando are confident of winning the elections. “Who wants to allow drug barons and rapists to run the MC,” they queried.
Wijitha and Fernando told The Sunday Leader that this would be the last chance for the Negombo voters to prevent thugs, racketeers, drug barons, brothel house owners and rapists from entering to the Negombo MC.
“The time has come to chase away these underworld gangs and stop them from further destroying this once peaceful Little Rome. All government resources have been utilised for their own benefits and we are not able to send our children even for private tuition classes.
Drugs are sold openly and the police have allowed brothel houses to run their businesses without any hindrance. There is no peace in Negombo at all. No development work is done. The Negombo MC funds have dried up as they have been utilised for the councilors’ personal use,” they said.