Government minister belligerent in TV station

DECEMBER 27, 2007
Posted January 14, 2008

T. M. G. Chandrasekara, Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation
Chandrasekara, news director of the state-run Rupavahini television station, became the center of a dispute when Sri Lankan Labor Minister Mervin Silva and a group of followers entered the station’s Colombo newsroom on December 27 to complain about its failure to cover a speech the minister had given the day before.

One of Silva’s bodyguards assaulted Chandrasekara, according to the local press freedom organization Free Media Movement. A BBC report said that his shirt had been ripped open, and quoted the station’s director-general as saying that Chandrasekara was “forcefully pulled” by one of Silva’s group.  

Journalists and staff at the TV station refused to allow Silva to leave until he had apologized to their colleague, and initiated an impromptu hostage situation by holding him in an office, according to the BBC. Police and army efforts to diffuse the situation lasted more than four hours before Silva publicly apologized and was led away, according to local newspaper Sunday Island. The station’s footage of the incident was taken by police in an attempt to downplay its coverage, the Sunday Island said.