By RIGGO NANGAN
WEST New Britain police have arrested and charged the ring leaders in the recent oil palm industrial unrest and a new cult movement – the two major law and order problems of the province in as many months.
The ringleader in the industrial unrest, a senior security officer, was arrested charged and his firearm licence confiscated by police.
Provincial police commander Chief Insp Richard Mulou said yesterday that the man was responsible for the unrest which saw properties of New Britain Palm Oil Ltd (NBPOL) destroyed and employees attacked.
He said the senior security officer mobilised about 2,000 locals and oil palm block holders after an industrial dispute to converge on the NBPOL facilities.
Mulou said expatriate employees were attacked in the company club and vehicles damaged in the rampage.
He said police vehicles including his were attacked when police went in to address the crowd.
Mulou said a Milne Bay man and an Eastern Highlander were arrested along with the senior security officer.
They were charged with robbery, malicious damage and stealing. He said more arrests are expected soon.
He said a police investigation unit from Rabaul had been called in to carry out investigations.
Meanwhile, the situation has simmered down and police will be monitoring the situation for a month.
Police have also arrested the leader of a cult movement in the province’s south coast villages of Atui and Poronga near Gasmata.
Mulou said he interviewed the cult leader whose group has stopped children from going to school and the sick from seeking medical treatment.
He said the movement leader said he started the movement after he saw a vision where two men in white robes told him to start a new ministry.
He said the growing number of followers have caused concerns among authorities and other Christians.
Mulou said five teachers of Atui primary school on the mainland, left the school after their students were stopped by the movement from attending classes.
He said sick people were also discouraged from seeking medical treatment saying they were better off with the herbal and spiritual healing powers that the group was “spiritually” entrusted with.
Mulou said one mother has died after giving birth because she could not get medical help she needed.