Sri Lanka opposition poll campaign haunted by ‘grease devils’

Chief Regulatory Officer at CSE Renuke Wijayawardhane presenting the listing certificate to Executive Chairperson at Renuka Hotels Shibani Thambiayah

August 26, 2011 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s main opposition, which is bedeviled by a string of electoral defeats and an internal battle to oust its leader, says its door-to-door campaign is haunted by a phobia among voters about ‘grease devils’. ‘Grease devil’ is a colloquial term used to describe peeping toms and other mischief makers who dress down and apply grease to their bodies to make it difficult to catch them.

A phobia about ‘grease devils’ has spread around Sri Lanka in recent weeks, triggering vigilante action by villagers in rural areas against suspects – sometimes due to mistaken identity.

“Everybody is looking at each other in suspicion,” Kasthuri Anuradanayaka, a senior official of the opposition United National Party in the island’s north central area where some local polls are to be held soon, told reporters.

“When a visitor comes to a village, people known to be hospitable look as if you are a ‘grease devil’.

“Our village folk are gripped by fear, especially women.”

Angry residents in several areas claimed that authorities are ‘sheltering’ grease devils leading to protests around police stations and stoning of vehicles belonging to the military.

Last week a mob killed an innocent policeman who tri