675 suspects have been arrested thus far on charges of illegal storage and sale of fuel. The suspects had in their possession more than 33,000 litres of diesel and more than 21,000 litres of petrol.
Police Media Spokesman SSP Nihal Thalduwa said various reports of individuals storing fuel illegally have been received from across the island, while Police have conducted raids in certain areas. He said certain individuals who were charged for storing fuel and selling it to the public at excessive prices.
SSP Thalduwa said 21,636 litres of petrol, 33,462 litres of diesel and 11,100 litres of kerosene oil have been confiscated in the raids. SSP Thalduwa said legal action against the arrested group will be taken together with the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation.
SSP Thalduwa further said when fuel tanks have run out of fuel, the public demand the Police to open fuel tanks. He said the Police Headquarters has instructed Policemen to refrain from heeding such requests.
He added such measures could only be taken by the management and employees of the filling station or appointed representatives of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation. SSP Thalduwa said opening fuel tanks must be done under protective measures and warned that such actions could result in a disaster.
Meanwhile, the Police Media Spokesman said Police officers have been instructed to videotape those behaving in an unruly manner at filling stations. He said 1,350 filling stations across the country require 5,500 officers for duty.
SSP Thalduwa said the officers have various other duties including preventing crime, engaging in legal proceedings, and controlling traffic adding that amidst all such duties allocations have been made to filling stations. The SSP requested the public to refrain from obstructing the duties of the Police.
He added Police officers have been instructed to direct the video to superiors of instances when they are unable to control boisterous crowds and to request additional support. SSP Thalduwa said the video evidence will be used in court if legal proceedings are undertaken.