Planters’ Association condemns the murder of Noori Estate Manager, Nihal Perera

The Planters’ Association of Ceylon (PA) condemns in the strongest possible terms, the horrific attack and murder of the Manager of Noori Estate, Deraniyagala, Nihal Perera.  Veteran planter, Perera, has served the industry for around forty five years, having managed several estates across all planting districts in Sri Lanka. 

Particularly saddening was that the tragic incident took place while the victim was at work, doing his field rounds and routine supervision. The PA has been informed that the attack was by an unknown group of assailants from the area and none of the perpetrators of this crime have yet been apprehended.

Secretary General of the Planters’ Association, Malin Goonetileke was vehement in his condemnation. “The Regional Plantation Companies (RPC’s) are tasked with managing and safeguarding government property and if as custodians of such state assets our managers are being attacked, how could we expect them to perform their duties as expected he queried.

“Regrettably, even though previous incidents of interference, intimidation and thuggery on Noori Estate by outside elements had been brought to the notice of the law enforcement authority, no meaningful action was taken by the police to resolve the situation.

A similar incident on an estate in the Lindula district where the Estate Manager was intimidated and damage caused to his bungalow and vehicle, injury to his person was averted due to a police presence currently on the estate.

The Planters’ Association notes with alarm the recent trend of escalating violence directed against estate management who are vested with the responsibility of safeguarding government owned property, leased out to plantation companies. Apart from the main crops of tea and rubber, assets include forestry, timber reservations, water sheds, stream reservations and land. RPC’s are incurring substantial expenditure on legal fees and management time in unnecessary litigation, in preventing illegal encroachment of land, illicit felling of timber, illicit gemming and similar illegal activities on the land that has to be handed back to the government, once the leases expire.

The Plantation community is disheartened at the lethargy of the police in recent times whereas even during the worst period of conflict in the country, the estate managers carried out their duties in an exemplary manner in maintaining discipline and good governance on the estates without being a burden to the law enforcement authorities.

The Planters’ Association urges the authorities to take immediate measures to apprehend the perpetrators and let the law take its course thereby regaining the confidence of the plantation sector which continues to be a mainstay of the economy and provides a livelihood for almost 10% of Sri Lanka’s population.

“Our Managers need to be reassured that they have the fullest co-operation and support from the law enforcement authorities in the performance of their duties“summed up Goonetileke. 

Released in July 2013