11th November 2001, Volume 8, Issue 17

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issuespic1.jpg (18064 bytes) Murder of PSD's Al Capone

By Frederica Jansz

To be a 'Chandiya' was the sole aim and ambition of Baddegana Sanjeewa. Driving his Serena 31- 5940, that fateful Friday evening on November 2, Sanjeewa felt in full control. In the company of one of his closest Mafia friends, Dhamikka Perera and Ulapane Mudiyansalage Udaya Kumara alias Galay, Sanjeewa discussed his political future

and survival. Recently dismissed from the Presidential Security Division, Sanjeewa was not worried. His dismissal was merely a face saving measure for the PSD Sanjeewa at the time of his death was still a close confidante of PSD Chief, ASP, Nihal Karunaratne.

In fact, when The Sunday Leader telephoned the presidential security division to find out if Baddegana Sanjeewa had indeed been interdicted from the PSD, a top cop said, "I do not know," before abruptly cutting short our telephone query.

Game of survival

He however was keeping his options open. Aware that a political change was imminent, Baddegana Sanjeewa had not kept his sentiments to himself. He had carefully weighed the present political situation and was considering a crossover.

The underworld after all feed off political masters - to back the right man and the right party is vital for underworld figures to ensure their survival.

That evening, Sanjeewa had received a telephone call from another close friend named, 'Shantha' who asked him to drive to Pitakotte junction. By that time, Dhammika had arrived together with Galay. Getting into his Serena, Sanjeewa met up with Dhammika and Galay outside a tea boutique within close range of the UNP headquarters at Pita Kotte - Siri Kotha.

Chatting amicably, Sanjeewa suggested they go for a 'drink'. Dhammika declined saying he had left his vehicle parked nearby and they could perhaps meet again the following day. Sanjeewa had then said he needed to get to Narahenpita on another matter and offered to drop Dhammika and Galay at a point. Climbing into the back seat, Dhammika settled down while 'Galay' climbed into the front passenger seat. That was the last 'Shantha' saw the threesome alive. Shantha too had attempted to get into the vehicle but Sanjeewa had asked him to stay. "Umba hitapang - mang gihin ennang - ikmanata," he had said in Sinhala.

Barely a half-hour later, Baddegana Sanjeewa was found on Pagoda Road slumped in the driving seat of his Serena, his jaw slack with six gun shot wounds in his body. He had been shot from behind where the bullet had entered the side of his head, he had also been brutally shot in the knees as he perhaps made an attempt to rise.

There were no passengers in the vehicle when police got to the scene. The cops believe that Baddegana Sanjeewa was shot dead by Dhammika Perera. Both Dhamikka and Galay according to the cops descended from the vehicle and probably climbing into another vehicle left that night for Kandy. There wasn't a single eye- witness to the slaying. Baddegana Sanjeewa was 29 years old at the time of his death.

Police on self-censorship

Dhammika Perera meanwhile, is reported to have telephoned mutual acquaintances after the killing and hotly denied his involvement in the murder. According to Dhammika's version of the events that Friday evening, he and Galay had got off Sanjeewa's vehicle at a point where he had left his own vehicle parked. Dhammika swears, Baddegana Sanjeewa was alive at the time.

Another theory has suggested that Sanjeewa picked up two other persons from another point and it was these two who finally pulled the trigger on him. Whatever the evidence uncovered into this killing, one fact is crystal clear. The police will do nothing to apprehend the killers.

Despite his 'official' interdiction from the ranks of the PSD, a police revolver together with a police identification card were found on the person of Baddegana Sanjeewa at the scene of his murder. Posters carrying his image after his death, portrayed him wearing a police tie. The police have once more proved their servility to the underworld by refusing to even make public the names of the suspected killers of Baddegana Sanjeewa. Afraid of violent reprisals and transfers to punishment stations, the cops have decided on a form of self-censorship and are keeping 'mum'.

Leading political personalities meanwhile paid their last respects to Baddegana Sanjeewa. President Chandrika Kumaratunge herself sent a wreath of flowers expressing deep sadness at Sanjeewa's sudden death. PA heavyweights, Jeevan Kumaratunga, Mervyn Silva, Sanath Gunatilleke and Nihal Karunaratne also attended the funeral and paid their last respects.

Having begun his adult life as a 'car seizer', Sanjeewa was hired by various insurance companies to 'help' seize financed vehicles where leases had fallen short. He was thereafter entitled to a commission of Rs. 15,000/- to Rs. 25,000/- for every vehicle thus seized.

During the 1994 general election when the political scales were tipped heavily in favour of a win for Chandrika Kumaratunga, Sanjeewa was approached by the former Chief Minister for the Western Province, Morris Rajapakse to assist in providing additional security for Kumaratunga.

Organised crime

At the time, Sanjeewa was employed as a bodyguard to Morris Rajapakse. An army major by the name of Lankatileke who was a friend and associate of Morris Rajapakse also persuaded Sanjeewa to assist Kumaratunga in providing additional security.

Following Kumaratunga's win, Sanjeewa befriended Nihal Karunaratne. The only favour he sought for services rendered during Kumaratunga's election campaign was to be enlisted in the Sri Lanka Police Force. His request was granted and Sanjeewa was accepted as a Reserve Police Constable and assigned to the PSD.

Thereafter began Sanjeewa's entry into organised crime. Backed by political masters, Sanjeewa became a ready and willing tool in a circle of systematic crime. He quickly found favour with PSD Chief, Nihal Karunaratne as Sanjeewa's penchant for brutality and violence became his ticket to fame.

He quickly rose in the ranks of the PSD. From RPC he was promoted to PC and finally to Police Sargent, by which time he served as personal bodyguard to Nihal Karunaratne.

Despite his criminal record, President Chandrika Kumaratunga trusted Baddegana Sanjeewa implicitly and was comfortable in having him provide her body protection - confident of his loyalty to her, she felt reasonably safe under his purview.

Born to a father who was a kassippu dealer, Baddegana Sanjeewa was no virgin to falling out with the long arm of the law. He readily used his police uniform, affinity to the PSD, police service identity card and gun to instill fear in unarmed civilians and police, resorting to acts of murder, assault, intimidation and mayhem like a duck taking to water.

Sanjeewa was no longer an ordinary man. He began to amass great wealth. His name brought shudders to the souls of ordinary folk, his misdeeds began to slowly unfold. Baddegana Sanjeewa revelled in the knowledge that he was finally a full-blown 'Chandiya', an identification he had sought long to achieve. In a show of newly acquired wealth, he built a luxurious three storey house at Baddegana.

Lasantha Wickrematunge, Editor, The Sunday Leader was among the first to officially make a police complaint against Baddegana Sanjeewa after his (Wickrematunge's) home at Nugegoda was pock marked with bullets shot by an unidentified gang at around 10 p.m. one night in June 1998.

Reporting the case to the Mirihana police, Wickrematunge named Baddegana Sanjeewa as a prime suspect, including the names of those who accompanied the PSD man and the number of the licence plate of the van used for the attack. HQI Saman Ratnayake, at the time accepted Wickrematunge's statement and promised an investigation would be launched.

Later, on September 7, 1999, Rohana Kumara, Editor of the Satana newspaper was making his way home at around 9 p.m. when he was shot dead at point blank range while inside the three wheeler he had been travelling in. The names of three suspects emerged. Thatta Asoka, Thara Ajit and one other figured as the killers.

A few months after Rohana Kumara was assassinated, former DIG for Colombo, Bodhi Liyanage received an anonymous telephone call. The faceless caller gave him a phone number - 872920 -and told him that some underworld characters could be found at this number.

DIG Liyanage summoned SSP Ananda Levangama from the Colombo Intelligence Bureau and told him to find the address to the telephone number and arrest any suspects. Levangama sought the assistance of the Criminal Detection Bureau (CDB), where Bandula (Show) Wickremasinghe functioned as Director.

Tracing the telephone number to a Pitakotte address, the sleuths found the number listed in the telephone directory under the name of A. D. S. Perera of Duva Road - Pitakotte. The following afternoon at around 12 p.m. a special police team arrived at this address and after conducting 'a recce' stormed the house.

Inside, the cops found, Thara Ajit, Thatta Asoka and a third underworld figure. It was only at this stage the sleuths discovered that the house belonged to the infamous Baddegana Sanjeewa, who at the time was a strongman attached to the PSD. The cops were in a quandary but arrested the threesome and brought them to CDB headquarters at Gregory's Road, Colombo 7.

Police raid

There, they were interrogated by SSP Wickremasinghe who claimed the details of Rohana Kumara's murder finally unravelled. Calling a press conference the next day, Wickremasinghe went public boasting that the case had been solved. He however declined to mention that the three underworld killers had been arrested at the infamous Baddegana Sanjeewa's home at Pitakotte.

At this press conference, Lakbima journalist, Sri Lal Priyantha repeatedly questioned Wickremasinghe demanding to know where exactly the three underworld figures had been arrested. Wickremasinghe stalled and contradicted his own statements when he said in one instance it had been at Pitakotte junction and a second time said the men had been arrested at a playground at Pitakotte. At no stage did 'Show' Wickremasinghe ever admit that the thugs had in fact been found at Baddegana Sanjeewa's home.

HQI Mirihana police, Saman Ratnayake who had by this time recorded two complaints against Baddegana Sanjeewa - (one by Lasantha Wickrematunge and a second by a close relative of Rohana Kumara) soon received a transfer order - to leave immediately for Vavuniya. CI Ratnayake refused to budge and stayed home. To date his name is listed in the police force as having vacated his post.

Contract killings

Baddegana Sanjeewa's name meanwhile again figured three months later. On January 4, 2000, Kumar Ponnambalam was shot dead at Ramakrishna Road, Wellawatte. Moratu Saman and a former police constable named Sunil Ranasinghe carried out the killing on the instructions of Baddegana Sanjeewa. Top cops told The Sunday Leader that the killers, after murdering Ponnambalam, made their way to the office of a deputy minister who was shown as proof the mobile telephone of Ponnambalam and the weapon used in the killing, which belonged to 'C......' the son of a VIP PA politico.

Even at this stage, the police made every effort to refrain from making public Baddegana Sanjeewa's name as being involved in this murder. Sanjeewa in fact shared a close friendship with SSP Bandula Wickremasinghe, so much so - that on one occasion, when a gang threw hand bombs at a club at Delkanda on September 29, 1999 the cops had captured the getaway car. The vehicle belonged to a friend of Baddegana Sanjeewa's and he personally visited the CDB headquarters on this occasion making a request that the car, be released. A demand Bandula Wickremasinghe quickly acceded to.

Underworld rivalry

Later, on another occasion, six persons were murdered at Gangodawila. The men had been travelling in a van and were allegedly on their way to Baddegana Sanjeewa's home at Pitakotte when they were killed by a rival underworld figure, Pamankade Asoka.

Asoka was later found and remanded by the police. Baddegana Sanjeewa was determined to seek retribution for the killing of his underworld friends. At a subsequent court hearing at the Gangodawila Magistrates court, Baddegana Sanjeewa planned an attack. Enlisting the services of one Shantha and an ex army soldier, they threw a hand bomb into the Gangodawila courthouse killing instantly Pamankade Asoka.

The OIC Crimes Mirihana Police, one Bandara was determined to continue with the investigation into this incident despite repeated demands by Baddegana Sanjeewa to drop the case. Bandara was soon transferred out as OIC Crimes to a separate division at the Mirihana police station.

A similar case took place when the OIC for the police special team at Peliyagoda - SI Samudrajeewa one day received an anonymous phone call giving him the telephone number 872920 and an address at Duva Road, Pitakotte. The caller informed the cop that some underworld figures could be found at this residence. Summoning a special police team, Samudrajeeva arrived at the given address and stormed the house.

Inside sat Capt. Ranji, a well-known underworld thug from Negombo. The police also recovered four pistols and some hand grenades. The cops however were astounded to find that the owner of the house was none other than PSD Police Sargeant Baddegana Sanjeewa.

Sanjeewa had insisted the cops should not arrest Capt. Ranji and had quickly telephoned PSD Chief, Nihal Karunaratne.

Karunaratne lost no time in driving himself to Sanjeewa's home and tried to stop the Peliyagoda police from arresting the underworld thug. SI Samudrajeeva however was determined not to bow to pressure. Despite both Karunaratne and Sanjeewa being members of the PSD, the cop insisted on carrying out the arrest.

The case was later transferred to the CID and died a natural death. SI Samudrajeeva was transferred out of Peliyagoda and ordered to report for duty instead to Trincomalee.

In another incident, weeks before the October 2000 general election, police sources said that Baddegana Sanjeewa was guilty of having thrown hand bombs at the UNP's headquarters Siri Kotha at Pita Kotte. He was arrested and released on a Rs. 50,000/- cash bail together with PA politico, Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra. He was also behind the several attacks on the Kotte office of UNP MP, Ravi Karunanayake during the last election.

Separately his name figured once more on being the mastermind behind an organised assault on a number of local photojournalists covering an opposition led street demonstration.

Forged documents

Early this year, Sri Lanka Customs launched an investigation into some vehicle imports by Baddegana Sanjeewa when it was detected that forged documentation had been submitted to customs. This case too was referred to the CID, and shelved.

Meanwhile, Baddegana Sanjeewa had been 'given' shop space at the Nugegoda supermarket and the Welikada Plaza. Commercial space, which he sold for millions of rupees.

Police sources reveal that the Kotte Mayor, Chandra Silva also favoured Baddegana Sanjeewa. He was allegedly 'given' for services rendered to the Kotte Mayor, two acres of marshland at Nawala to refill and sell at his personal profit.

Baddegana Sanjeewa's name also figured in police investigations into the attack on the Silver Slipper casino during curfew hours and the attack on the Canton Chinese restaurant at Colombo 3, which is owned by Sarath and Shanthini Kongahage. Senior sleuths confided to The Sunday Leader that Sanjeewa was found guilty of these attacks but he could not be apprehended as he was shielded by being a member of the presidential security division.

Baddegana Sanjeewa's name sent shivers down the spine of many a cop. This was amply proved when earlier this year a police jeep from the Mirihana police station had stopped a three-wheeler that carried three 'suspicious' looking men on the Sri Jaywardenapura Kotte road during wee hours. Questioning the men, the cops were told that the men were members of Baddegana Sanjeewa's group. The men thereafter proceeded to search the cops, who stood transfixed, fearful of a violent reprisal from the most feared man in Kotte.

This level of intimidation was apparent even when The Sunday Leader contacted the present HQI for the Mirihana police K. A. Premadasa. He maintained that there is not a single written complaint against Baddegana Sanjeewa. Asked about the official complaint Lasantha Wickrematunge made against the underworld thug, Premadasa said he knew nothing of such a statement. He reiterated that there was never a police warrant even issued to arrest Baddegana Sanjeewa.

Senior DIG Crimes H. M. G. B. Kotakadeniya asserted, there is an unwritten law with regard to underworld figures - that no complaint must be recorded or maintained against them by the police.

A senior sleuth from the Criminal Investigations Department said a lack of evidence in many cases where underworld thugs have figured has led to their release. He pointed out that the lack of a soundproof witness protection scheme in the country prevents civil society from coming forward to lend evidence against members of the underworld.

Citing an example, he said Galay had been arrested and had confessed to more than 25 killings. He was also found guilty in 1996 of throwing a bomb at the Aluthkade courthouse remand cell. Galay was finally released last year due to a lack of adequate police evidence. It is a well-known fact that Dhammika Perera is protected by the infamous Ratwattes. The Sunday Leader last year highlighted how according to information gathered by the police, Dhammika is looked after by both Lohan and his brother Mahen Ratwatte.

Just weeks before his murder, Baddegana Sanjeewa sent word to the Editor of The Sunday Leader through a photographer as well as a one time PA big wig that it was Dhammika who shot at the editor's residence.

Dhammika Perera has been heading the 'Wanted' list at the now defunct Criminal Detection Bureau (CDB) for over two years as police tried in vain to catch the killer who is guilty of some of the most horrendous murders committed.

Earlier in 1997-1999, S. B. Dissanayake shielded Dhammika. Dhammika was introdued to S.B. by Sanjeewa. On one occasion, Dhammika together with another businessman reportedly met at S. B. Dissanayake's official residence in Colombo at 20, Stanmore Crescent, Colombo 7. They allegedly detailed a plan to burn the printing press of a rival in Kandy. The job was duly carried out. The gory details have been revealed in a statement Galay made to the cops soon after.

Dhammika was also given an official ID from the Ministry of Sports during S. B. Dissanyake's tenure as minister. The police say that to this date Dhammika uses this ID to get through police barriers and enter high security zones.

A woman's love

Vanessa Selvaratnam, friend and lover to Baddeganna Sanjeewa was distraught and upset when The Sunday Leader spoke with her. She described Sanjeewa as having been "a fantastic human being - kind, generous and very loving." She countered allegations made that he was a member of the underworld as being "totally false and not true." She said they had shared an intimate relationship for two and a half years. "I will never get over his death," she vowed.

Vanessa had been speaking to Baddegana Sanjeewa at the time he was shot. He had phoned her on his mobile to tell her that he was going elsewhere with some friends. She says he did not name who he was with or perhaps before he could do so, she heard a gunshot and Baddegana Sanjeewa shout "Amm--oooo."

S. B. Dissanayake, at a press conference last week alleged that Baddegana Sanjeewa had led a life of crime extorting large sums of money which he and Vanessa gambled at casinos around the city. Dissanayake charged that Vanessa spends up to rupees one lakh a day on playing the wheel at game clubs.

This is the second time Vanessa has lost a partner. A few years back her husband Joel Pera was also brutally shot dead at a casino in Colombo.


"We will open dialogue with the LTTE" - UNP

The United National Party last week released its manifesto for the December 5 election. It is by and large what the party has been advocating under Ranil Wickremesinghe, but includes far reaching recommendations especially in solving the ethnic problem and jump-starting the economy.

The UNP has already presented the manifesto to the Mahanayakas and other religious leaders. The manifesto of the PA was not available last week and would be reproduced once available.

Following are excerpts from the UNP manifesto:

On the 18th of July, the UNP promised a monthly allowance of Rs. 2000 to all employed in public service and corporations.

* We will increase your pension by Rs. 750 per month with immediate effect.

* As a means of providing relief to the poor, we will increase the Samurdhi allowance up to Rs. 1000 per month as soon as we are elected to power.

* We will review and modify the arbitrary imposition of the Goods and Services Tax GST.

We will make use of our proven strength of efficient economic management to accelerate job creation through rapid economic development.

Rapid Economic Growth

* To ensure economic development through Sri Lanka, we will demarcate the country into five economic regions as follows:

West - Western Province

South - Southern Province, Ratnapura, Moneragala Districts

Central - Central and North Central Provinces, Badulla District

Northwest - North-East Province

Northwest - North-West Province, Kegalle District

* There will be an Economic Development Commission for each region that will be responsible for creating a regional economy, thereby creating jobs.

* Each commission will promote industry, agriculture, trade and tourism in the region.

* This commission will also create an environment to attract foreign investment into the region.

* We will help the garment industry to meet the challenges of 2004 and strengthen the industry which is one of our leading economic sectors.

* We will promote reforestation as well as the protection of water resources. This will also create additional jobs.

* For 18 months, young, unemployed people will receive a monthly living allowance of Rs. 2000. In return they will have to undertake work assignments as part of a national reconstruction programme.

* We will introduce a special insurance scheme and expedite banking facilities to fulfill the special needs of those seeking foreign employment.

* We will channel those in possession of a higher education and technical skills to seek employment abroad.

* We will ensure that all students are proficient in English and are computer literate within year 10.

* We will make higher education and professional education more opportunity-friendly and market-oriented by broadening its compass to suit changing needs and times.

* We will make sure that undergraduates in our universities have a choice in the selection of subjects like their counterparts in the UK and USA.

* We will introduce a voucher system to fund students attending fee-levying institutions. As a result, poverty will not be a barrier for students to pursue higher education and training.

* We encourage and support local agricultural production by limiting the importation of agro-products.

* We will guarantee the prices of basic agricultural products.

* We will introduce new technology to farming, and encourage the growth of high value new crop varieties.

* We will establish fisheries training centres to introduce new technologies, tools and techniques so as to upgrade the skills of fishermen.

* We will introduce a special assistance scheme for small holders of tea, rubber and coconut and other minor export crops.

* We will link the weekly village fair with urban markets.

* Swarnabhoomi and Janabhoomi titles received under the Land Development Act, the Land Grants Ordinance and other legislation (which only provides limited rights of possession) will be converted to absolute ownership.

* We will introduce an incisive development program to assist small entrepreneurs with financing, the supply of equipment and marketing.

* We will enact the women's charter to protect the rights of women.

* We will ensure that women's particular requirements and gender-specific concerns are recognised and prioritised in the formulation of state policies.

* We will upgrade schools in the plantation sector to be on par with other schools.

* We will upgrade the health service in the plantation sector and expedite the issue of national identity cards to those in plantation communities.

* We will seek the assistance of international experts to fight crime.

* Parliament will enact tough laws to suppress crime.

* We will set up a truly independent commission on bribery and corruption - answerable only to parliament.

* We will seek the views of the opposition and civil society organisations in setting up this commission.

* We will provide the commission with the relevant facilities and support services to eradicate bribery and corruption from political and social structures.

* No new liquor shops will be opened without the consent of the residents in the area.

* We will make it the duty and responsibility of the local officer in charge and the assistant superintendent of the area to strictly enforce law and order, and thwart crime.

* We will establish an independent public service commission to make the public service more efficient as well as to ensure that public servants are not made the puppets of politicians.

* We will reinstall the right of public servants to retire on a full pension after 20 years of service.

* We will remove road barriers, which close up roads unnecessarily and choke traffic.

* Diesel tax will be abolished.

* We will start discussions with all political parties, religious organisations and civil society to achieve a consensus on a political solution.

* We will open dialogue with the LTTE.

* We do not propose to make constitutional changes relating to devolution of power until a working solution acceptable to all sections of our society has been reached.

* We will set up an Interim Council in the North and East for a limited duration.

* We will set up an independent committee to develop an action plan that will address the problems of war victims and displaced persons of all communities.

* We will eradicate politicisation within the armed forces.

* The management and administration of the armed forces will rest in the hands of senior professional officers.

* We will establish a committee similar to the combined Chiefs of Staff. This committee will be responsible for the conduct of all combined operations.

* We will institute a Board constituting of retired senior military officials to advise the government.

* We will introduce a national health insurance scheme.

* We will enact immediately the Media Reform Bill that is being willfully delayed by the government.

* We will also initiate discussions with media representatives on ways and means to create a climate that will protect media freedom.


Police taken to task over human rights

By J. S. Tissainayagam

In a landmark judgement the Supreme Court ordered Sub Inspector Mahinda Pathirana and Police Sergeant Jayasinghe, of the Seeduwa Police, to pay Rs. 100,000 each to Kumara Caldera, who was shot at 'indiscriminately' by the police, rendering him impotent and having to use a catheter to pass urine for the rest of his life. The state is ordered to pay Rs. 500,000.

The judgement delivered by Justice Edussuriya, with justices Amarasinghe and Wadugodapitiya concurring, has a wider scope. It chastises the inaction of the Inspector General of Police Lucky Kodituwakku and the police department. "The manner in which the BCIBs and RIBs have been altered with impunity and utter disregard of the law, makes one wonder whether the supervising ASPs and SPs are derelict in the discharge of their duties, or, in the alternative, condone such acts.

"The question is what is the 5th Respondent, Inspector General of Police doing about it? In my view it is unsafe for court to accept a certified copy of the statement or notes recorded by the police without comparing it with the original," the judgement continues.

The incident in question goes back to Christmas day in 1998, when Caldera and three others were going with a person injured in a motor vehicle mishap, when one Lakshman Fernando had come in a Mercedes Benz car and blocked Caldera's van. After rendering Caldera's vehicle thereby immobile, Fernando alighted from the car, walked up to Caldera and slapped him after which he took the victim out and stabbed him twice in the chest.

Caldera's brother had then taken the wheel and driven to the Seeduwa police on the way to the Ragama Hospital. When they reached the police station, they found Fernando already there. Caldera's brother and the others in his vehicle were assaulted both by Fernando and policemen at the station.

Since there was nobody willing to take him to hospital or record his statement, as the police was busy assaulting those who had accompanied him to the police station, Caldera decided to drive the vehicle towards Negombo. But after proceeding some way, he decided to change direction and started towards Ragama Hospital.

On the way he had suddenly heard a sound like a gunshot and found his rear windscreen shattering. Observing a police van trailing him with policemen half out of it firing at his vehicle, Caldera dropped speed and stopped the vehicle. Just then he felt something piercing the back of his neck and the sound of gunshots.

Caldera had stated in his affidavit the policemen gathered around his vehicle firing and Police Sergeant Jayasinghe had pointed a gun and shot him through the windscreen. Though he was not injured, Caldera lowered his head and closed his eyes. Then the policemen had said, "The fellow is not dead," and assaulted him with the gun.

When Caldera had pleaded, "At least now will you take me to hospital," the assailants had kicked him in his stomach and the sides of his abdomen. Caldera had then lost consciousness.

First Respondent Somasiri Liyanage, Inspector of Police and OIC of the Seeduwa Station stated in the objections filed by his counsel that Fernando came to the police station with injuries on his face and when he was in the office, a van-load of persons shouting obscenities had arrived. Some of the occupants in the van had assaulted him (Fernando).

Liyanage said that Caldera did not come to the police station and that when the four persons (Caldera and the three others in the van) were arrested, others had made a 'quick getaway'. When Mahinda Pathirana had given chase there was someone in the van firing at the police and then the police had returned fire. The van came to a halt only after the tyres were deflated. The person who had received injuries had been taken to the Negombo Hospital.

The judges have said there is no doubt the police were deceiving court and have gone on to show how the police records had been falsified. After describing the instances where these alterations had been made the judges say, "These alterations have been clumsily made and are visible to the naked eye. These alterations have been made in an attempt to show that the police party that gave chase to the van driven by the Petitioner (Caldera) used vehicle bearing number 61-2273 to fall in line with the entry ... in the RIB... It is clear that vehicle number 61-2273 could not have been used in the chase. After the shooting incident, it is clear that the police in an attempt to cover up their shooting claimed that vehicle 61-2273 was used, obviously because the front buffer of 61-2273 had bullet marks."

After examining other entries in the police records, the judges state, "It is established beyond any manner of doubt that all statements and notes relating to the second person other than the Petitioner getting into the van and driving out of the police station compound, and then a person firing at the police vehicle, which gave chase and the police vehicle 61-2273 being used in the chase and being hit by a shot fired by a person in the van have all been fabricated by the first and second respondents (Liyanage and Pathirana) to cover their (police) firing at the van driven by the Petitioner (Caldera) without any cause whatsoever."

The judgement takes a dim view of the Additional Government Analyst's report saying it is 'very skimpy,' and did not even record details such as the trajectory at which the bullets entered the vehicle. But the judgement says the report of the Retired Senior Assistant Government Analyst does include such details.

Based on these details, the judges conclude that the shots could not have entered the van if they had been fired the way the police describe it. However, the angle from which the shots were fired corroborated with what Caldera said, the judgement states.

Without mincing words the judges go on to state, "The firing by the police without any rhyme or reason even after the van was brought to a stop and the assault which followed with hands, feet and gun was cruel and inhuman treatment meted out to the Petitioner (Caldera), undoubtedly intended to punish the Petitioner who left the police station with a stab injury to seek treatment as the police did not record his statement or issue a Medico Legal Examination form."

The judgement goes on to state that, "assertions from the first and second respondents (Liyanage and Pathirana) that ... Lucky Fernando came to the police station with bleeding injuries cannot be borne out. For there to be bleeding injuries on his face there would be lacerations."

The judgement continues that Pathirana and Jayasinghe had kicked and assaulted Caldera after he was pulled out of the van. This occurred after Caldera had been already injured by police shooting.

The judges question as to why Liyanage issued an order to carry firearms and for Pathirana to give an order to fire on the van.

The judgement states that Pathirana and Jayasinghe had violated Caldera's fundamental rights guaranteed to him under Article 11 of the Constitution, by subjecting him to cruel and inhuman torture.

Romesh de Silva, PC and Palitha Kumarasinghe appeared for the petitioner, instructed by G. G. Arulpragasam. 


India looking for alternatives

By J. S. Tissainayagam

It has been drilled into the ears of the public that the party best equipped to root out 'LTTE terrorism' is the PA. The PA was out-manoeuvred by the Tigers on the battlefield and left with a lot of egg on its face as the rebels stole a march over it on beginning negotiations through Norwegian mediation. But that has not deterred the PA from persisting in portraying itself as the party that has the best credentials to snuff out 'terrorism' - a buzzword that has gained new international opprobrium after the September 11 bombing of the WTC.

The PA has also tried to show in its election campaign that its policies are in consonance with international trends and the process of suppressing terrorism is acknowledged not only by the United States and the west, but also India. India's stance against forces destabilising the Indian state whether it be Weerappan in Karanataka, the LTTE and its agents, or what it calls cross-border terrorism in Kashmir is well known.

While saying that it will continue to act as the champion against the LTTE, the PA has also gone out on a limb to tell Sri Lankans that the UNP is the only southern (Sinhala majority) party that is prepared to negotiate with the Tigers and thereby condone 'terrorism.' Spurious as the logic might be, this is what it would want the voters to believe.

In representing itself as the only party in Sri Lanka ideologically committed to overcoming terrorism, the PA has tried to say that by extension it is acting in the interests of India (and the western nations).

A degree of consonance in foreign policy between the SLFP, which forms the core of the PA, and the Congress party of India, has permitted the PA to disseminate the myth of being the only party having policies that are traditionally sympathetic to those of India's.

The SLFP-PA propaganda makes it out that in the 1950s S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike and Jawahrlal Nehru were united in their vision in de-colonisation and on promoting the Afro-Asian solidarity and non-alignment. This continued even in the 1970s between Sirimavo Bandaranaike and Indira Gandhi, despite glitches such as Sri Lanka's role in the Indo-Pak war of 1971 that lead to the formation of Bangladesh, which was open to interpretation as being in support of Pakistan.

In opposition to this, Indo-Lanka relations have not been the best when the UNP was in power in Colombo. The Senanayakes were openly pro-western, both in the economic and security linkages they promoted. It was a contrast to India's own orientation in economic management, and to a greater degree in security matters, as they were closer to the Soviet Union.

In India's eyes, there were two transgressions committed by the post-1977 UNP. One was to liberalise the economy and prefer trade and investment from the west and the far east than with India. The other was J. R. Jayewardene's strategy to bring in American and Israeli military interests to back his government's efforts to crush armed Tamil militancy, rather than relying on India. India retaliated by arming and training Tamil militants to destabilise the Sri Lankan state.

India regained its handle over Sri Lanka with the Indo-Lanka accord. Though President R. Premadasa tried to reassert Sri Lankan 'independence' by demanding the withdrawal of the IPKF and condoning the anti-Indian hysteria among the masses, Sri Lanka was not in a position to go against India's Sri Lanka policy.

This rather lengthy survey of the past is important to see how easy it was for President Chandrika Kumaratunga to perpetuate the myth that Indo-Lanka ties are more cordial under the SLFP-PA than under the UNP, when her government came to power in 1994.

By 1994, the biggest issue in Indo-Lanka relations was the LTTE. The Indian state had to absorb the negative fallout from the forced withdrawal of the IPKF, the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi and the possibility of the LTTE's military campaign for Eelam, stoking the fires of separatism in India.

India, then under Congress (I), gave full backing to the PA government short of direct military intervention, to crush the LTTE. Though there might have been sections of the Indian government, or the state government in Tamil Nadu sympathetic to the Tigers, there has been no flagging in the overall policy of New Delhi to destroy the Tigers ever since. Its proscription of the LTTE, surveillance of the Palk Straits, military assistance and economic aid (after the Paris Development Forum refused to pledge further aid in December 2000) are all eloquent pointers to this.

Despite all this, it became evident that Sri Lanka was not doing its allotted task. The LTTE's continuing military successes were military debacles for the government. What is more, Sri Lanka did not cease to flirt with the west on military matters, and continuing human rights violations and governance issues only exacerbated ethnic relations and fuelled Tamil militancy.

The actual level of Indo-Lanka relations was delineated in May-June 2000 when the LTTE threatened Palaly military base. The desperate PA asked for assistance from New Delhi. All India promised was logistical aid that might have included troop evacuation and aid in military hardware, but nothing more.

While India's hopes of militarily crushing the LTTE receded with Elephant Pass and was confirmed by Agni Kheela, the fact that it was not even in position to begin political negotiations with the Tigers became evident when the Norwegian brokered effort came acropper in April this year.

All this had become a nightmare for the country wanting to be a regional policeman: chronic instability through sheer ineptitude displayed by the PA. There was no other option for India but to turn to the UNP.

Credit has been given to the UNP on how well it has handled its relations with India. Gone is the anti-Indian rhetoric of the Premadasa era. Ranil Wickremesinghe has understood New Delhi's compulsions and acted with maturity. So much so that the PA's propaganda as being the most Indophile party is eroding.

Wickremesinghe has been in touch with New Delhi in the past few years and has been alive to Indian interests and recognises that the Tamil question can be resolved to the satisfaction of all only if Indian interests are satisfied. This is despite Kumaratunga stating that measures such as the interim council in the north-east proposed by the UNP in its manifesto are pro-LTTE and seeks to divide the country.

The best example of highly New Delhi holds Ranil Wickremesinghe and the UNP is seen by the considerable diplomatic gesture made by the Vajpayee government in September, when Wickremesinghe visited New Delhi even while a no confidence motion against the PA was about to be tabled.

The most important factor that governs India's regional policy is to have a stable South Asia. The more unstable it is, the more tempting an offer would it be extra-regional forces to use it for their own designs. As the northern rim of South Asia becomes the theatre of what could become a protracted military conflict, the importance of stability in other parts of the region become proportionately more important.

The PA's hollowness is there for all to see. It cannot fight, nor can it talk. It is therefore natural for forces pushing for stability in the region to look to alternatives, which they hope will deliver the goods. And that is why the UNP, despite all the attempts by the PA to paint it as treacherous and insidious to Sinhala interests, appears to be acceptable to New Delhi.


Standard Chartered Bank sponsors Hong Kong Cricket Sixes

The Daily News of November 5, 2001 reported a speech by President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga in which she stated that her former close confidant and Samurdi Minister S. B. Dissanayake offered to "kill an editor or two" so as to stop her popularity from sliding further. The President reported this bizarre proposal in a matter of fact way, without any of the moral pontificating with which she usually embellishes her speeches. Kumaratunga's response to Dissanayake's alleged proposition had not been one of shock, outrage and horror. "On that occasion the President had told Dissanayake," The Daily News reports, "that it was not necessary to think that the government was weak when it had the support of 24 additional members." Kumaratunga did not vouchsafe to her audience how she has reacted to such criminal propositions on other occasions.

S. B. Dissanayake was quick to write a strongly worded letter of protest to Kumaratunga, which we reproduce in full below. The editor of The Sunday Leader, Lasantha Wickrematunga, himself the victim of two vicious attacks during the Kumaratunga regime, also wrote to the President stating that she would be held responsible should any harm befall him. We reproduce in full these letters in the public interest, given the gravity of the allegation made by the President, especially in a milieu where politically inspired violence is commonplace and treated with studied nonchalance by the country's chief executive.

 

5 November, 2001.

Mrs. Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga,

President of Sri Lanka,

Presidential Secretariat,

Colombo 1.

Dear Madam President,

I was dismayed but not surprised to see in the lead story of today's Daily News a statement attributed to you, stating as follows:

"S. B. Dissanayake had told the president to gag the independent media which is critical of the government. He had told her, 'Madam, the government is very weak and it could collapse at any time. If necessary, I will even kill an editor or two who is critical of the government.' On that occasion the president had told Dissanayake that it was not necessary to think that the government was weak when it had the support of 24 additional members."

Given that the Daily News, apart from being the principal propaganda organ of your party, is also operated by your cronies and henchmen, I have no reason to doubt that the above words were in fact spoken by you. However, in spite of the dubious standards of morality you have established for yourself and your government, I confess that I, like most other people who read this statement, was appalled by your blas‚ attitude to 'killing an editor or two.'

As President and First Citizen of our country, surely we have a right to expect rather more of you. According to you, a senior member of your cabinet approached you with a proposal that one or two editors representing the independent media should be murdered so as to strengthen your grasp of power. What was your reaction? Shock? Outrage? An immediate demand that he resign? A report to the CID that an attempt had been made to make you party to a conspiracy to murder newspaper editors? Shockingly, it seems that none of the above even occurred to you. You merely told him "it was not necessary to think that the government was weak when it had the support of 24 additional members"!

How is it that you exhibited such outrage when a businessman (whom you have still not named) offered you a bribe of Rs. 50 million to perform a favour (which you have still not identified), and yet, when a proposal is made to murder newspaper editors, you do not turn a hair but instead begin discussing your parliamentary majority? How is it possible that a minister would have the temerity to make such a proposition to you? Or is it that your ministers habitually discuss political assassinations with you?

This conjecture would seem to be supported by your statement that 'on that occasion' you told Dissanayake that it would not be necessary. Pray what did you do on other occasions?

My more immediate concern in relation to this report is for my own safety. You know full well that I am a newspaper editor, and you have under the cover of the immunity your office bestows on you made disparaging remarks about both myself and The Sunday Leader on several occasions. It is a matter of public knowledge that the revelations we have made about the corruption that is rampant in your administration is odious to you. No surprise then that on two occasions during your tenure in office, my family and I have been brutally attacked. In 1995 February my wife and I were assaulted by armed thugs; and again in 1998 June machine-gun fire was directed into our house, endangering the lives of my wife, my young children and myself.

On both occasions you made pious public statements that a full investigation would be carried out, on the second occasion going so far as to say that the CID itself would be ordered to investigate the case within 24 hours. However, the CID never so much as asked me for a statement, and even the police sentry who was allocated to guard the premises was withdrawn shortly thereafter. This is indeed ironic given that you have thousands of heavily armed security personnel behind whom to cower.

However, it is a matter of common knowledge that the notorious Presidential Security Division (PSD) is not wholly dedicated to the safety of your person. The PSD, which includes among its numbers some notorious criminal elements, has come to be synonymous with thuggery, hooliganism, political repression and all manner of excess. Its head, Nihal Karunaratne, has himself stated that I head the list of media personnel targeted for assassination. I quote below an astonishing statement appearing on page 143 of the Year 2000 World Press Freedom Review published by the International Press Institute, Switzerland:

"Shortly after the president's victory in the January 2 elections, the director of the Presidential Security Division (PSD), Superintendent of Police Karunaratne told FMM convenor Waruna Karunatilake that the editor of The Sunday Leader newspaper, Lasantha Wickramatunga, was number one on their hit list, followed by the editor of the Ravaya newspaper, Victor Ivan. Shortly after these comments had been made, senior government ministers and other public officials accused Lasantha Wickramatunga, editor-in-chief of The Sunday Leader, and Victor Ivan, editor-in-chief of Ravaya, of conspiring with the LTTE. The accusations were subsequently picked up by the state-owned press and carried in a series of articles."

Reading through the above, it would appear that your reference to "an editor or two" fits in snugly with Karunaratne's reference to myself and Victor Ivan. It is shocking enough that the director of your security detail should be maintaining a 'hit list' of journalists out of favour with you. What is astounding is that you should discuss the murder of journalists casually and with evident nonchalance with your ministers.

All those who heard your televised 'victory' speech to the nation on January 3, 2001, following your being sworn in as president for a second term, will recall the language of pure hatred you used to describe several media institutions and personalities. Clearly you entertain for them sentiments of malice and hatred. Taken together with the conversation you claim to have had with S. B. Dissanayake, and the threat made by Nihal Karunaratne, it would seem that violence towards journalists is routinely discussed in President's House. This is the abyss into which public morality has sunk in this country under your administration.

My purpose in writing this letter is not to pour scorn or contempt on you, richly though you deserve both. It is to state publicly that the statements made by you and the director of the PSD give me ample grounds for apprehension that you consider me a threat. As such, should I be assassinated, as so many media personnel critical of your government have in the past (the cases of Rohana Kumara and Mariyadasan Nimalaranjan come to mind), I want you to know that the public will hold you personally responsible.

Yours sincerely,

Lasantha Wickramatunga,

Editor-in-Chief. 

 

*  *   *   *  *   *   *

H.E. Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga,

Presidential Residence,

Colombo.

Your Excellency,

Immediately on launching the propaganda onslaught of the general election, it is now becoming quite evident, that you are making an effort, to conduct the totality of the election, utilising, once again your familiar armoury of distortion, fanciful lies and falsehoods.

At the BBC interview you recently appeared in, as the head of state of our land Sri Lanka, what you did was making all the Sri Lankans hung their heads with utter shame. You displayed before the whole world, how you struggled and strained to conceal the truth, to fabricate lies, and how you got into hot water, by trying to present stark lies as living truth. When it is realised that eighty million rupees of our money was squandered for this interview, the gravity of the crime you perpetrated increases two-fold or three fold.

Your excellency,

Your mental confusion I spoke about, the fact I revealed that you do not read newspapers, magazines or any state publications became totally clear to the whole world at that interview. The insults you hurled at our police and the armed forces can in no way be taken lightly.

To tell the truth, I feel ashamed about myself too. This is because I continued to be a minister in your government for nearly seven years.

But, nothing of that sort has happened. I regret that my friends in the cabinet of ministers, have not been able to restrain you at least vestigially, even now.

Your excellency,

I address this letter to you to nudge your memory regarding some very important matters. I present these as my response to the charges you levelled against me, a few days ago. After you have levelled, horrendous, criminally false charges against me, I am honour bound to reveal the truth of those. They are as follows:

1. The fanciful lie about the secret pact between the LTTE and the UNP.

2. The falsehood of Kasturiarachchi meeting you.

3. The lie of embezzling Samurdhi funds

4. The lie of attempting to assassinate media men.

You have converted all these into the prime slogans of the PA. I deem it my duty to reveal the truth about these matters and to nudge your memory awake about these issues.

 

LTTE-UNP secret pact

Both you and I are quite well aware, that, no such pact exists. Please recall, how you handed over to me the false document fabricated by the Govt. Information Dept., as a secret pact, on your instructions. Please also call to mind, how you declared it to be an authentic document, and instructed Balapatabendi to organise immediately a media conference, with the prime minister and me. Please recall the way you stated with high relish, how that great lie was fabricated. This was related to me by you and two high officials of the information dept. and the SLBC, after I returned from the media conference.

Your excellency,

What you are doing to Ranil Wickremesinghe today, was done to you by the UNP, at the 1994 general elections.

I am sure, that, you can recall how your posters were defaced, how it was stated that Prabhakaran will be the ruler if you come to power and how a special presidential candidate was put forward to establish the link between you and Prabhakaran. But, nothing could mar the confidence the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim persons placed in you at that time.

Today, Ranil Wickremesinghe has won the confidence of all the parties that represent minority interests. I am quite certain that you remember how those parties supported the government we set up in 1994. I am sure that you also remember how you made an attempt to give portfolios to those parties and how they rejected that offer. But, when you grabbed the peace process too, just as you grabbed all other things for yourself and made a sorry mess of everything, those parties left you.

Today the whole world is aware, that, a path to solve the north crisis peacefully and in an acceptable manner, has opened before the formidable, wide-ranging forces that have converged on the United National Front, that has come into being under the leadership of Ranil Wickremesinghe. Today, it is not only Prabhakaran who has lost faith in you. Tamil parties of the plantation sector and the Muslim people do not have even a vestige of faith in you today.

Today, a mass movement is gathering against terrorism and extremism, not only in our country, but in the whole world. In this current context, a specific and concrete situation has arisen which has the potentiality to force not only Prabhakaran, all minority groups, the UNP and also the PA, religious leaders and civil organisations to think afresh about the crisis in the north. Whatever may be your faults and weaknesses, I am fully aware that you have a genuine commitment to solve the crisis in the north, even today. But, you yourself destroyed the opportunity that existed to solve this problem under your leadership. Please accept and admit the fact that today, Ranil Wickremesinghe, has built for himself a massive confidence among the minorities and minority parties. You must feel happy about this. Ranil Wickremesinghe has made it crystal clear, that there is no secret pact between the LTTE and the UNP. Please accept this stark truth. Today you are clutching the same old record of the Elephant-Tiger pact. This has now become the proverbial decayed straw a drowning man clutches as the last hope.

Please give that up. Do please realise that this lie will make you and the PA, which you as well as we built, a shameful entity, in the eyes of the whole world.

You meeting with Yasasiri Kasturiarachchi, head of Yasodha Enterprises.

Yasasiri Kasturiarachchi was born in Nuwara Eliya. He was introduced to me by my friend Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle. I know that you envy and resent all business personnel who speak Sinhala and are from a rural background. If he spoke broken Sinhala, and if he was raised in the British or the French style, I know that you will embrace him too.

Your excellency,

But, whatever it may be, I have never spoken to you about Yasasiri Kasturiarachchi and his bank loans.

Neither your views nor the views of Kasturiarachchi are of any use to me. Courts of law will adjudge the issue and dispense justice.

But, it is true that you met Kasturiarachchi. That was with Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle and Minister Mangala Samaraweera. I know that he gave you rupees two million at that time. That is the truth. But, please, do not involve me in your transactions.

The lie of Samurdhi Fund embezzlement.

Please read my response to this charge that you level against me either knowingly or without knowing. The fact, please instruct your officials to reply it. Please read it. When you do that, you will realise that my offices are as innocent as much as I am. By levelling these false charges, you succeed only in making Samurdhi officers and managers angry.

Buying shares in Pan Asia Bank and investing funds at high interest rates in private banks are both correct, sound policy decisions. The advantages that have accrued and will become accrued to Samurdhi movement and Samurdhi recipients, are multi faceted. But I am aware that you are wanting in the knowledge to appreciate those.

The lie about the attempt to assassinate media personnel.

Is it I, who recruited Sanjeewa of Baddegana who is a terrible assassin of the lower depths, for your security division. The whole world knows about the assassinations and crimes that were committed through him, with your knowledge. Attacking media men, attacking opposition personnel, attacking artistes, bomb attacks in homes, attacking Rukantha and Chandralekha and shaving their heads - all these happened with your awareness. These were done by your security officer Sanjeewa of Baddegana and the presidential security personnel. Your urge to kill certain media personnel and to set fire to media institutions, is not a secret to us. I can describe one by one, how you planned those personally and how you ultimately gave those up, some of those as there was no other support. I do not plan to do that. The reason is, that, I do not want to disgrace our motherland in the eyes of the world. But if you whom I know well, have not planned to assassinate me already, it is a wonder.

The lie of claiming Samurdhi concept to be yours.

Your excellency,

Please tap your own conscience and think of this. An umpteen number of times, you told our MPs and ministers, that the Samurdhi concept is mine, but, I always introduced it as your concept. You never claimed that Samurdhi concept was yours, until I left the party. Earlier, you were in the habit of saying "S.B. and we built this movement." When the Samurdhi Social Security Fund was being launched, you opposed it. Each time Samurdhi movement planned to launch a commercial bank you opposed it. Have you forgotten that you insisted, that Samurdhi officials should be reduced to 1000? you have made public statements about this to newspapers.

Have you forgotten that once again you insisted that Samurdhi officials should be reduced to 3000? I like to remind you that all these matters appeared in newspapers from time to time.

Samurdhi concept was an entity built by me and a group of my learned friends. What we wrote about this prior to 1994 remain preserved with me. You are not aware of our Samurdhi movement even today. You have no idea whatsoever about its future. Even today, the only thing that you do is make false statements, that are damaging to the Samurdhi movement, only sullying the purity of the Samurdhi Movement.

Your excellency,

Please speak with a sense of responsibility. The era, in which our masses were misled with deception and falsehood, is now over. There is yet another matter I must tell you, ultimately. Today you accuse us of embezzlement of funds. But, until we decided to leave you, there were no such charges. But no such charges were levelled against us either by the country, by the opposition or by you. You have never warned me. But, your excellency, massive charges of embezzlement, misappropriation of commissions, bribery have been levelled against you and your friend Minister Mangala Samaraweera. Some of those are very grave charges. The result of the investigations into these have not been revealed. But, it is no secret that complaints have been lodged before the Bribery Commission about these.

I will, once again state with great emphasis, that all the charges levelled against me today stem from hatred, anger and malice and that they all are groundless lies and fanciful falsehood.

Yours sincerely,

S. B. Dissanayake 


Intricacies of an interim arrangement

By D.B.S. Jeyaraj

"But Kumaratunga vowed she would end the Sinhalese-Tamil war, and people believed her. She began by offering peace negotiations with Prabakharan, dangling an extraordinary incentive. The president told TIME she promised Prabakharan an autonomy package, and also said if he stopped fighting he could run the northern province, using his guerrillas as a police force, without having to face elections for up to 10 years. She says the Tiger chief didn't respond."

Three years ago a major controversy erupted in Sri Lanka when the prestigious news magazine TIME revealed that President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga had in the mid-nineties offered an 'extraordinary incentive' to Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam leader Velupillai Prabakharan. The president told TIME she promised Prabakharan an autonomy package, and also said if he stopped fighting he could run the northern province, using his guerrillas as a police force, without having to face elections for up to 10 years. According to Kumaratunga the Tiger chief didn't respond to this extraordinary offer.

When Kumaratunga disclosed these facts in the TIME issue of February 9, 1998 that marked the golden jubilee of Sri Lanka's independence from the British it was as if she had opened a Pandora type variety anew. An assortment of critics from the Buddhist clergy to the journalist fraternity condemned her for having dared to even contemplate such a course of action in the interests of achieving lasting peace. Much water had flown under the Kelani paalama since the time she had supposedly made that offer to Prabakharan. A full scale war was raging. All this however was lost on her critics who were obviously interested in deriving political mileage out of this and more concerned in generating heat than light. Many in the United National Party also contributed lavishly to this critical barrage then.

Unorthodox offers

This columnist then an ardent believer in Chandrika the 'angel of peace' wrote an article in another Colombo English newspaper justifying Kumaratunga's purported offer.The thrust of that piece defended the president's controversial offer as an imaginative and bold device aimed at ushering in a durable peace. It was argued that such unorthodox offers and a genuine commitment too were necessary in the pursuit of peace. The wheel has turned full cycle now. The same Kumaratunga is now spearheading a propaganda drive aimed at condemning UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe for proposing peace talks with the Tigers and including them in an envisaged interim administration for the north-east. The UNP is accused of having a secret agreement with the LTTE and a memorandum of understanding with the Tamil national alliance. This column is therefore constrained to reiterate its earlier position on the issue again and argue in favour of accommodating the LTTE in an interim setup regardless of which party's proposal it is.

The terms and conditions under which Kumaratunga proposed to allow Prabakharan to run the north without having to face elections for 10 years are not known fully. Kumaratunga herself did not enlighten the nation at large even at the height of the furore that ensued over revelations made in the TIME. The book The Politics of Duplicity written by LTTE political adviser and chief negotiator Anton Balasingham on the history of negotiations between the Kumaratunga regime and the Tigers in the 1994-1995 period also has no reference to this proposal. In the absence of concrete data about Kumaratunga's offer one can only conclude that it envisaged pride of place for the LTTE in an interim administration for the Tamil regions.

Underlying rationale

This brings us to the chronology of such proposals in the Sri Lankan context and the underlying rationale for them. The idea of an interim council or administration for the north-east was initially a brainchild of India. It was conceptualised in the rounds of discussions held by the Indian ministerial duo of P. Chidamparam and K. Natwarsingh in 1986 with then President J. R. Jayewardene and some of his senior ministers. The inspiration for this came from New Delhi's successful effort in bringing peace to the north-eastern state of Mizoram that had experienced a severe secessionist insurgency.

After protracted negotiations the veteran diplomat Gopalaswamy Parthasarathy known as GP succeeded in persuading the rebels to give up the armed struggle and enter the mainstream. Realising that confidence building incentives of a massive scale were required to woo armed rebels outside the system to re-enter it again, GP agreed to let Lal Denga gain power in the state without having to face any election. The idea was to transfer power to the rebels first, allow them to exercise it for a certain period of time and then face elections to either retain it or not, depending upon electoral fortunes. The governing principle was to attract rebels into the mainstream by granting power first without hindering such transition by insisting on elections before. This was because New Delhi prioritised the necessity to woo rebels back to the mainstream above the need to adhere to the mechanics of routine democracy for a lofty purpose

Thus in Mizoram, the Congress chief minister of the state stepped down and allowed the rebels to take over. This transition was made smooth because it was the Congress that ruled both at the centre and state. It may be recalled that GP functioned as India's special envoy in 1983 and 1984 and laid the solid groundwork for a negotiated settlement here. Unfortunately, Jayewardene got him removed when Rajiv Gandhi took over. Nevertheless, the spirit of GP lingered on and the mooting of an interim administration was a result of his indirect influence.

India promised the LTTE as well as the other Tamil militant groups at pre-accord discussions that they would all be accommodated on the interim council that would be set up in the north-east prior to elections being held to the north-east provincial council in terms of the Indo-Lanka accord. What the other groups did not know was that Rajiv Gandhi had promised the LTTE a dominant position in the interim council. What the LTTE did not know was that Indian officials had promised all groups an equal position in the interim council. What the Tigers and other groups did not know was that the Tamil United Liberation Front had also been assured of a suitable share in the proposed interim set -up. What all groups except the Eelam Peoples Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF) did not know was that thanks to effective lobbying in New Delhi, a significant section of south block believed that the EPRLF was on par militarily with the LTTE, and that an equal position on the interim had been promised them also. This underestimation of LTTE and overestimation of EPRLF was a grave miscalculation for which India paid dearly later.

Interim Council

So when the Indo-Lanka accord was signed and the 'boys' started handing over weapons, New Delhi was seen as lagging on delivering what it had promised. In a futile bid to appease all parties concerned after making contradictory promises, Indian officials tried to work out several formulas. The most suitable one embracing all shades of Tamil opinion was something like this. LTTE-three; TULF and EPRLF two each; all other groups one each. But the Tigers who had been promised a dominant position by no less a person than the Indian premier himself would not budge. Matters came to a head when Thileepan started a deathfast in a bid to make 'Mother India' deliver its promises to the Tigers. Moreover,

 

 

 

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