JVP is keeping Trinco on the boil
Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema In Trincomalee
burning buses, deserted roads and missing bodies there was one
thought uniting everyone - their disgust of the JVP in
Trincomalee. Tamils, Sinhalese and even the Nordic monitors
pointed the accusing finger at the red brethren, charging that
it was the JVP's Trincomalee District MP Jayantha Wijesekera
and co. who were responsible for igniting the communal tension
which spread like wildfire and engulfed the whole of
stands guards facing his back to a roadsign - Court Road -
with the Tamil Eelam emblem and Cutout of the Tamil Eelam map
Heroes Day commemorations and the Veera Keppetippola memorial
day always coincided for years. The Tamils and the Sinhalese
have co-existed, and being an MP, Wijesekara should have been
more responsible and acted in a different manner,"
Trincomalee District Secretary, North-East Sinhala Movement,
Ven. Dehiowita Piyatissa Thero said.
unrest which began during the LTTE's Heroes Week
commemorations resulted in the killing of two people, with all
parties vowing to take action against the other.
to cope with the escalating level of violence in the area, police
personnel from Polonnaruwa and army personnel from the Minneriya
camp were deployed to assist the forces in Trincomalee.
the present scenario at Trincomalee has been attributed to the
tension created by a protest march organised by Wijesekara - the
only Sinhalese MP from the area.
tension kept mounting on both sides as the LTTE's Maveerar Day and
the ceremony to mark the birth anniversary of Vera Keppitapola
organied by the North-East Sinhala Movement coincided, the
foundation for the violence was laid when Wijesekara organised a
protest march to stop the Tamil Eelam flag from being hoisted at a
November 25, the LTTE organised a vehicle parade from Thambalagamuwa
to the Hindu Cultural Hall and the procession ended without any sort
began to heat up on November 26, when Wijesekara had assembled a
crowd at the fourth milepost junction to march to the Trincomalee
town to protest against the hoisting of the Tamil Eelam flag at the
Hindu Cultural Hall (Kalyana Mandapam).
he was stopped at the Orrshill junction and the police notified him
that he would not be allowed to proceed further.
to DIG, Eastern Range, Neville Wijesinghe, Wijesekara had when
explained of the situation agreed to take his grievance to the Sri
Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) office in Trincomalee, situated at
Lower Harbour Road.
the clashes between the JVP supporters and the police, the
procession could not proceed to the SLMM office as planned and the
SLMM officials decided to keep away from the crowd and confined
themselves to their offices.
clash between the police and the protestors fizzled out with the
latter being tear gassed and baton charged and ended with two
protestors admitted to hospital with gunshot injuries.
Propaganda Secretary, Wimal Weerawansa making a statement in
parliament charged that a fellow JVP MP, namely Wijesekara and his
supporters were attacked by the police and were shot at with
live bullets, when they merely wanted to go to the SLMM
office and hand over their complaint regarding the hoisting of the
Eelam flag in a public place.
charge has been vehemently denied by the police. (See box)
November 27, the day both the Tamils and the Sinhalese decided to
commemorate their dead heroes, tension between the Tamils and
to The Sunday Leader, Secretary, Trincomalee District, North-East
Sinhala Movement, Anura Bandara explained that they organised a
three-wheeler parade from the Jayasumanarama temple to the fourth
milepost and back.
procession was to return through the village Sirimapura on Nilaveli
Road. However, they were stopped by the police who said that they
could not proceed through Padikkiya, the village adjoining
Sirimapura as the Tamil inhabitants were ready to wage war in case
the three wheelers entered their area.
a heated argument with the police, the villagers stoned the police,
and they in return baton charged the procession and fired tear gas
to disburse the crowd.
to the villagers of Sirimapura, the police specifically attacked the
village folk apart from the participants of the procession as one of
the police officers present had a personal grudge against the
to The Sunday Leader several villagers charged that the police even
fired tear gas at houses and two children, among them one three
month old infant had to be hospitalised due to difficulty in
further said that the police had fired about 208 canisters of tear
gas and they have collected over 100 empty
canisters of tear gas from houses in the village.
village folk charge that the police was partial towards the Tamil
community in the area as the police without taking action against
the allegedly armed Tamils in the adjoining village, but resorted to
attack the procession which was conducted to mark a Sinhalese
to the police, they resorted to the only possible action they could
have taken given the fact that in the event the procession continued
through Padikkiya, there would have been hundreds of dead bodies to
these events led to the LTTE handing out leaflets on November 28
asking shops to be closed and buses to be kept off the roads the
next day as a hartal to protest against the disruption of their
29 saw the killing of the first victim of the communal unrest in
Trincomalee - Dilan Sampath - due to a grenade attack on the bus in
which he was travelling. (See box)
course of the day saw further violence as a tour guide from Kandy
was abducted on the Nilaveli Road in an area called Sampalthivu.
van was burnt and the body of the tour guide was found the following
afternoon in a lagoon in the area.
guide, identified as Sumith from Kandy after dropping two foreigners
at the Nilaveli Beach Hotel had retreated to a hotel called Siva's,
15 km away from Nilaveli with the van driver.
Uppuveli Police, Senaka Ratwatte explained that according to
investigations, on that fateful day he was travelling in the van
with two hotel workers when they were allegedly stopped by Tamils.
The two accompanying him were chased away by the assailants as they
were Tamil nationals and Sumith was taken away after they set fire
to the van.
two workers have then reported the incident to the Uppuveli police
and the search for Sumith came to an end when they found his body on
November 30 afternoon. He was assaulted to death and had not
sustained any gunshot wounds.
to Ratwatte, the police is faced with a problem - that of finding
Sumith's identity and whereabouts.
driver of the van and everybody else knew him as Sumith and
identification papers were burnt along with the van.
unrest in Trincomalee forced the police to declare curfew in the
even with curfew the violence continued as three houses came under
grenade attack in a Sinhalese village.
November 30 from Kantale onwards, many houses had a white flag as a
mark of respect to the late Sampath and armed personnel kept watch
on both sides of the road.
fourth milepost junction was heavily guarded and a few miles away,
the Anuradhapura junction was guarded by armoured vehicles and armed
personnel who said that they were deployed to defuse any violent
activities in the area.
that day was like a ghost town with white flags hoisted everywhere.
schools, shops - and people hurrying to buy some essential rations
from a nearby shop, which had one open door to make brisk business
were a common sight.
curfew was relaxed at 9 a.m., people were still hesitant to come out
of their houses for the fear of being victims of communal violence.
town too was deserted and the bus stand was filled with armed
personnel instead of the usual buses.
violence had definitely taken its toll on the people as restaurants
and hotels that opened for business did not prepare any meals due to
the fear of an emergency curfew being imposed. The few shops that
opened for business closed by 1 p.m.
visit to the LTTE's Trincomalee office gave the feeling of a place
that was deathly calm in anticipation of a major storm.
some of the decorations from the Heroes' Week still lying about, the
main gate to the office was padlocked while it was the side gate
that was kept open. Inside, a man peering from a half closed door
said that the office was closed, adding that Trincomalee Political
Wing Head, S. Elilan was in Sampur.
a bid to arrest the unrest in Trincomalee, Chief of Defence Staff,
Navy Admiral Daya Sandagiri and Army Commander Lt. Gen. Shantha
Kottegoda visited Trincomalee and held discussions with police,
armed forces and civil society representatives and religious leaders
in the area.
civil groups were asked to be calm and maintain law and order. They
were further assured that the armed forces would increase the
security in Trincomalee and had requested everyone to be extra
cautious to prevent a communal riot similar to the riots in 1983.
to Anura Bandara there would have been no communal unrest if JVP's
Wijesekara had not decided to do things his way.
pointed out that if Wijesekara was so patriotic, he should have
taken action against the Trincomalee courts, which does not even
have the state emblem. Wijesekara who initially said that he was not
aware of the situation in Trincomalee as he was in parliament could
not be contacted for three days thereafter.
LTTE and government forces finally sat across the table for
discussions on Thursday at the SLMM office in Trincomalee and
decided to make sure the events such as those that have been taking
place since last week would not be repeated.
mandate is to monitor only - Trinco head
Trincomalee District Head, Dagfinn Adnanes explained that as a
facilitator, they have no implementation mandate.
noted that the SLMM could only point out the ceasefire
violations and bring the parties together to reduce the
went on to say that the LTTE's Heroes' Week saw complaints
coming in from the Sinhalese as well as the Tamils.
the SLMM has received about six or seven complaints, they are
still in the process of assessing whether they really are CFA
Adnanes observed that the hoisting of the Eelam flag at the
Hindu Cultural Hall is a violation as the venue is a public
said that although they discussed about the Heroes Week
preparations the Sunday before the commemoration, Elilan had
not mentioned plans to hoist the Eelam flag.
noted that the clash between the police and the JVP protestors
made the SLMM officials stay in their offices. He further
pointed out that the SLMM has not requested any police escort
as it would make it difficult to carry out its duties.
said that the SLMM has maintained a balanced approach
could only issue a ruling of whether an action is a violation
or not and it would be up to the respective parties to decide
on the course of action, he said.
had nothing to do with it" - LTTE
Political Wing Leader in Trincomalee, S. Elilan was in Sampur
as soon as communal tension began to escalate in Trincomalee.
to The Sunday Leader, Elilan said that the LTTE had nothing to
do with the violent incidents as it was the sole fault of the
JVP and the army.
is a third force that is behind this unrest," he said.
went on to say that there were efforts by certain parties to
disrupt the Maveerar Week commemorations earlier, but failed.
further, Elilan observed that this time round, the JVP decided
to disrupt it and the army too had joined the extremists.
noted that the peace loving people in Trincomalee have been
disturbed and it was not the fault of the LTTE.
that the SLMM should be allowed to proceed with their task
without any hindrance, Elilan also warned that if the violence
continues, the LTTE would have to take some sort of action to
safeguard the Tamil people.
of the hoisting of the Tamil Eelam flag in the Hindu Cultural
Hall even though the SLMM ruled it as a violation of the
ceasefire agreement, Elilan said that although the police and
the SLMM had stated it was a violation it is not so.
further, he observed that according to the CFA, it is not a
violation as it clearly states that the Eelam flag should not
be hoisted in government or army controlled areas which give
provision to hoist in private places.
the SLMM said that the hoisting of the flag in any public area
was a violation, he went on to say that public would mean a
government building and since the Hindu Cultural Hall was not
a government owned building, it did not qualify as a public
went on to say that other decorations of the LTTE were
destroyed by the Sinhalese, adding that the LTTE did not
disrupt any commemoration programmes organised by the
further noted that civilians have no right to take matters in
to their hands as it is only the SLMM who could determine the
while saying that the LTTE was not against the Sinhalese, went
on to say that they were only against opportunists like the
hate us now -Wijeysinghe
Eastern Range, Neville Wijesinghe while saying that the
hoisting of the Eelam flag is a violation of the CFA, went on
to say that the people of Trincomalee have now developed
hatred towards police personnel accusing them of being partial
towards the Tamils.
noted that it is the duty of the people to report any CFA
violation to the SLMM who are the authorised personnel to rule
on these matters.
explained that people usually expect the police to react to
their protests and act accordingly and when JVP's Jayantha
Wijesekara protested against the hoisting of a Eelam flag,
people expected the police to take it down.
police or any armed personnel has no authority to do so,"
to Wijesinghe, the allegation made by the JVP that the police
shot live bullets at the protestors is false. Explaining
further, he said that when the police fired tear gas and
batton charged, some of the crowd ran in to by lanes, some of
which led to Tamil villages with LTTE supporters.
are witnesses who have seen the wounded being carried to the
main road from by roads, which means it was not the police who
shot them," he said.
courage results in death
in a bus on day the LTTE declared a hartal brought about the
death of Dilan Sampath.
that fateful day, November 29, a friend approached him and
asked Sampath to take him home as he was not feeling ill.
who agreed to do so, together with his friend got into a bus
with two other passengers.
roads were quite deserted as people preferred to say indoors
expecting some trouble in lieu of the hartal.
bus had only travelled a few miles, when suddenly two men on a
motorbike hurled a grenade at the bus.
grenade landed on the dash board and it was Sampath who
quickly recognised that what everyone had presumed to be a big
stone was actually a grenade.
was then that Sampath took the bold step of picking up the
grenade to throw it out the window in a bid to ensure the
safety of the other passengers on board.
the grenade exploded in Sampath's hand amd he succumbed to his
to The Sunday Leader, Sampath's father, N. L. M. Piyasena said
that the attackers had then sped off to Ganesh Road and then
to LTTE areas.
card deal that cost SLT US$ 9m
houses that Sam (Seinthan) and Bob (Sangaran) lived in before the
Lanka Telecom (SLT) has been cheated to the tune of nearly Rs. 1
billion due to corruption and/or mismanagement by former Chairman
Thilanga Sumathipala and Chief Executive Officer, SLT, Shuhei Annan.
Payment schedules prove that SLT has incurred a loss exceeding US$ 9
million by end November 2004 after having signed a joint agreement
in 2002 with a small UK based company to market SLT calling cards in
the UK and Europe.
have evidence to prove that Sumathipala supported by the Japanese
born Shuhei Annan arbitrarily forced SLT into signing a joint
venture with a small UK based company called Premier Communications
International Limited (PCI) that never even at the time of signing
the agreement possessed the financial muscle to operate a
partnership with SLT. The agreement was signed on behalf of SLT by
Annan, minus board approval and sealed at the behest of Thilanga
former Chairman is now attempting to put the entire blame on Annan
for the shady deal.
who is chums with directors of the UK based firm negotiated and
sealed the deal, despite international credit rating firms having
condemned PCI giving the financially rocky company a zero rating.
Sigiri calling card operations financial report at the end of
December 2003 shows an operating loss of US$ 4 million of which loss
SLT has to bear half. This is in addition to an estimated US$ 9
million (Rs 900,000 million) debt they currently owe SLT.
records prove that PCI in its venture with SLT on 'Project Sigiri'
has been making only minimal payments towards their monthly bill
which has resulted in arrears approaching US$ 9 million for SLT.
the last three months the SLT Board has been requesting a bank
guarantee from PCI, but so far no such guarantee has been given. The
company has an alarmingly negative credit rating and would thus find
it near impossible to access bank funds.
the time, Sumathipala together with Annan initiated this deal with
PCI, a high risk warning had been given by Experian, an
international credit rating company. Experian, at the time stated
that the balance sheets of PCI indicate a deficit in both capital
employed and shareholders funds.
recently, according to Dun and Bradstreet, the most reliable credit
rating agency in the business, PCI have filed financial statements
at the end of 2002, which display an operating loss of around
Sterling pounds one million on a seven million revenue. The current
liabilities of the company are in excess of sterling pounds 3.5
SLT signed the partnership with PCI, the company has been given a
zero credit rating with a written warning that it is considered
inadvisable to proceed with any "unsecured dealings" with
this company. In view of the very serious nature of this information
the company was relegated to the highest risk category.
these warnings, Sumathipala went ahead and Annan signed the joint
venture agreement with PCI in November 2002. In December 2003, PCI
despite losses exceeding sterling pounds 1 million held an
extravagantly expensive anniversary party at the House of Lords to
celebrate the one year old joint venture with SLT.
directors of the company are Rajasundram Seinthan, Dr. Alan John
Parsons and Balasundram Sangaran. Seinthan curiously serves as
Company Secretary too. Even more curious is that Dr. Alan John
Parsons was the previous company secretary.
telling are the purchases of luxury homes in the UK by directors
after having initiated this joint venture with SLT. (See box for
was originally incorporated on May 19, 1999 with an issued share
capital of only two pounds. Both Parsons and Seinthan as directors
invested one sterling pound each.
did not commence trading until December 1999 after which the
principle activity of the company was that of the provision of
telecommunication services. PCI however had comparatively little
traffic to Sri Lanka at the time SLT under Sumathipala signed the
(Sam to his friends) and Sumathipala are known to share a close
friendship with Seinthan even gracing international cricket matches,
handing out prize money, where Sri Lanka's national team has been
represented. At a recent international cricket tour Sam Seinthan was
invited by Sumathipala to even grace the podium and hand out prize
money to the equivalent of US$ 7,500. This money though handed out
by Seinthan on behalf of PCI, was initially taken out of cricket
board funds. PCI reimbursed the cash only two months later after
many reminders were sent.
even orchestrated a massive sponsorship campaign on behalf of PCI
which was carried through the Sri Lanka/England cricket tour. PCI we
reliably learn did not pay fees to Sri Lanka's cricket board for
borderline tape advertising until months later. The issue took place
during Sumathipala's tenure as President of the Board of Control for
Cricket in Sri Lanka (BCCSL).
Director, BCCSL, Jayantha Kudahetti confirmed that PCI were granted
borderline advertising at an international cricket tour. He said he
could not immediately recall which tour it was for, but asserted
that PCI had been granted credit and had met the bill. "It was
not really that late," he said, when asked if PCI had delayed
meanwhile seems to have overcome its terrible financial problems
with what appears to be some creative accounting. Firstly, to
achieve traffic volumes, the company seems to have sold minutes in
the UK market at below the standard SLT termination rates. Or else,
the company seems to have obtained specially discounted rates from
SLT not available to other service providers.
measure has resulted in the company boosting its share of the UK-Sri
Lanka traffic at the expense of destabilising the market. This has
also allowed PCI to establish itself as worthy of qualifying for the
tactic by itself would not be improper had PCI possessed the
necessary finances to fund this exercise of selling below cost. As
PCI very obviously lacks business credibility in the UK, the company
seems to have sought assistance from SLT to fund its working
has obliged by extending over four months suppliers credit to PCI
that is not available to other companies who work with SLT. There
are companies who have been trading with SLT longer than PCI with
credible financial means, but were not accorded any special
reliably learn that SLT has been warned by other operators in April
2003 that PCI carried an estimated debt of US$ 5 million.
is no available documentary explanation at SLT which details the
criteria by which PCI was selected as the UK partner for the Sigiri
"deal" currently between SLT and PCI is this. Sigiri is
getting a termination rate of US$ 7.25 cents for a minute against
other suppliers getting between US$ 10 and US$ 11.25 cents a minute.
rationale for this discrepancy is that PCI is a joint venture
partner of SLT and so is entitled to discounted rates. Our
information is that there was no board paper or approval for the
is currently sending around 10 million minutes a month to Sri Lanka
gathered from UK and Europe at a reduced rate of only US$ 725,000.
This, by itself is a huge saving and a terrific leverage against
other call communication service provider who works with SLT.
has made no payments to SLT since November 2003 for the minutes
terminated, which is to the tune of more than US$ 10 million. Market
reports show that Sigiri cannot make the payment of the dues if
asked to pay. Our research shows little or no money owed to PCI by
any of their distributors or partners they work with. They have
collected most of their dues from the market. So the question is
where has the US$ 9 million gone?
while SLT was being effectively duped, Sumathipala had the gall to
literally crow about the "lucrative projects" he had
spearheaded at SLT. In his written address printed in the telephone
directory for 2004 with his photograph, he boasts of a total
communication solution initiated under him being, "the first
ever prepaid card, Sigiri, which is being marketed globally and is a
product development of existing products such as IDD, SLT Net
investigation found that two of the Directors of PCI, namely
Rajasundram Seinthan (Sam) and Balasundram Sangaran invested
in luxury homes in the UK after the Sigiri calling card
project got underway.
the project, Seinthan lived at 6, Eldon Avenue, Borehamwood,
Hearts. The value of his house was an estimated sterling
pounds 150,000. After the joint venture with SLT Seinthan
purchased a luxury flat next to the Lords Cricket stadium in
the UK. The estimated value of the flat is 1.7 million
sterling pounds. The flat is Seinthan's name on a 125 year old
lease hold basis.
Sangaran (Bob to friends) used to live in a semi detached
house at 12, Dundela Gardens, Worcester Park, Surrey. The
house is valued at sterling pounds 350,000. He continues to
own this property having rented it out. Since the PCI joint
venture with SLT, a new home in Surrey to the tune of two
million sterling pounds was purchased.
This residence is situated at
8, Quillot Walton on Thames, Surrey, KT 12 5BY. It is
registered in the names of Sam Sienthan and Bob Sangaran's
wife. (See photos)
officers at SLT culpable?
Chief Financial Officer, Nishan Fernando and Head of
International, SLT, Mahinda Herath have been in weekly and
sometimes daily contact with PCI. Visiting the UK since the
agreement was signed three or four times, the two men,
believed to have been handpicked by Thilanga Sumathipala, had
overseen audited accounts in relation to the joint venture.
both Fernando and Herath amazingly did not call a halt on the
venture despite the astounding financial losses clearly
displayed by the UK based firm which were directly affecting
millions by way of revenue to SLT.
contacted, Mahinda Herath admitted that the joint venture with
PCI "carries many aspects to a huge problem," he
however said, "I have had no supervision over the
financial matters - I am only handling the technical
issues." Herath did not deny the fact that SLT has
incurred a loss to the tune of nearly Rs. 1 billion as a
result of the venture with PCI and the Sigiri calling card.
loss will be recovered"
Director, SLT Board, President's Counsel Nigel Hatch
commenting on the issue maintained the new board of directors
would do all within the law to ensure the monies due by PCI
are recovered to SLT. Hatch has been on the board of SLT since
mid June this year.
was a transaction the previous board of directors entered
into. To be honest I do not know if it had board approval, but
one would assume that the former Chairman Thilanga Sumathipala
and the board looked into the credit worthiness of this
client," Hatch asserted.
further, Hatch maintained that since taking office, "the
new board was confronted with this staggering debt and whilst
engaged in the process as a responsible board of negotiating
with this entity to recover the outstanding, without any prior
warning to us, and notwithstanding its undertaking to SLT to
reduce the debt, PCI went into the commercial high court and
obtained an ex parte enjoining order."
said, "You would appreciate the matter is now sub-judice.
But the board would use every legal strategy available to
recover the monies due to SLT within the framework of the
on Annan's responsibility, Hatch said, "I think that the
present CEO would be accountable to the board for this
transaction. As I said this was inherited by the present board
and now that PCI has gone into court you would appreciate I am
under a constraint as regards to what more I could say about
the merits of the transaction. But certainly this board would
be far more scrupulous and vigilant as regards future
contracts and agreements that we would be entering into."
to the question if Thilanga Sumathipala would be held
accountable too, Hatch asserted, "Our first interest at
the moment is to use all avenues available within the law to
recover the money due. No decision has been taken about the
accountability of others who may have been involved in this
transaction. But such accountability if it does lie would be
within the legal framework and if necessary this board in the
exercise of its public and fiduciary duties would examine all
relevant aspects as well."
action against govt. and APGCL
Kumaratunga, Ronnie Peiris and Mangala Samaraweera
original owners of land acquired by the government and leased to
private investors for the purpose of building a golf course, luxury
villas and service apartments at Battaramulla, Kotte, are continuing
with legal action against government authorities and the private
investor Asia Pacific Golf Course Limited (APGCL). They are charging
that they were offered a pittance as compensation for land the
government took over asserting it was required for public use but
later leased to private investors who marketed the properties for Rs.
600,000 a perch.
litigants maintain that these lands originally belonged to them as
residents of Kotte and Battaramulla but that the UDA from 1982
onwards began to acquire the land, maintaining it was necessary for
the purpose of the parliament, administrative offices and water
retention. They did so after offering owners compensation in the
range of Rs. 312 per perch. By 2003 however APGCL was marketing
these same lands for Rs. 600,000 a perch.
company blocked off 105 blocks of 20 perch areas which it marketed
for Rs. 12 million per block for the purpose of constructing
individual luxury houses.
super luxury villas were earmarked for completion within a period of
five years even before the completion of the golf course which was
originally why this company was given the land. The land situated at
Battaramulla lies in close proximity to the parliament and includes
100 hectares of low lying lands designated as flood detention areas.
The land extent falls within the purview of the Kotte Municipal
Council and the Kaduwela Pradeshiya Sabha stretching northwards of
the Diyawanna Oya where it adjoins the Colombo-Battaramulla highway
just before the turnoff to parliament.
six petitioners in the Court of Appeal assert that the said lands
acquired from them for the purpose of construction of a golf course,
apartments, villas, resorts and clubs houses is contrary to law,
ultra vires and against the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act
as well as against Public Policy. The case came up for hearing again
in the Court of Appeal on Friday, December 3, charging APGCL
together with government state institutions.
petitioners state the lands were fraudulently acquired by misleading
owners telling them it was needed for public purpose when in actual
fact the land had been earmarked to use for private commercial gain.
Kankanige Mahinda Perera, together with his brother and sister
inherited 54 perches each in this area following the demise of their
parents. They were forced however to relinquish ownership of the
lands following a government directive that their land extent
including surrounding areas were being acquired for the purpose of
the parliament and other public requirements.
maintains he was completely unaware that the land acquired from him
was to be used for construction of a golf course until he visited
the sales office of APGCL at Battaramulla on August 21, 2003 and
obtained a brochure.
says he visited the offices of APGCL after having learnt the company
was planning to fill the lands acquired from him and sell it at the
rate of Rs. 600,000 per perch.
was only when he made additional inquires from the UDA, Perera
learnt that the Lands Ministry had entered into an agreement No.
758/760 in September 2000 with APGCL and agreed to lease an
allotment of land including the land acquired from him on a 99 year
lease for the purpose of setting up a golf course.
together with other litigants was paid compensation at the rate of a
mere Rs. 312 per perch under the Land Acquisition Act. He states in
his petition that since this same land was later marketed for Rs.
600,000 a perch that the conduct of the government of Sri Lanka is
grossly unfair and is against the purpose of acquisition of his
maintains that if the said property is not required for the public
purpose for which he was told it was acquired, it is the duty of the
government to divest the property back to him. The government he
charges has no right in law to give such property to a private
person to be sold at such an exorbitant price.
original investors of this land Siva and Suwaneetha Selvaratnam
together with Shantha and Susan Wijesinghe who fronted for President
Kumaratunga's friend Ronnie Peiris in January 2002 sold their Rs. 15
million worth shares for a 853% profit at Rs. 143 million to Access
Holdings strongman and Chairman Sumal Perera.
96 applicants are also charging that since the former PA government
and the UDA leased 233 acres of land to APGCL and the project has
been monitored so poorly that there are no guarantees environmental
standards would be maintained. Nor, if the issue of rain water
drainage to prevent flooding in Colombo and the areas around
parliament would not be compromised.
UDA maintains that compensation to the original land owners was
offered based on a valuation prepared by the chief valuer and that
government procedures were adopted for acquisition of the lands.
the issue at hand is this. Why such a negligible sum of compensation
was offered for lands which the government had every intention of
turning over to private investors who in turn have turned the land
into a lucrative money spinner.
the time the government acquired these lands, owners were told that
it was being taken over for public purposes. Land Acquisition
officers had maintained that the land would be acquired for the
purpose of the Parliament, an administrative complex and for water
retention as a low lying area.
the UDA was able to obtain only Rs. 62 million from APGCL for the
leasing of 135 acres of land (another 98 acres were given to the
company by the PA government free of charge) the company was well
set to rake in profits that would far exceed its investment.
company was initially granted a 99 year lease to construct an
18-hole golf course and multi-storey housing apartments.
APGCL deviated from its original pledge with the government where
the proposed project initially outlined a project to construct a
landscaped monument dedicated to the memory of innocent youth who
lost their lives in recent years in an area of 0.2 hectares, the
golf course in an area of 56 hectares (of which approximately 30
hectares was earmarked to be filled for a playground) with a golf
club and leisure centre, access roads, approximately 70 housing
apartments in two building blocks of six and eight storeys, a rowing
lake and rowing club, athletics playground cum football pitch
additionally nature park areas including both marsh and ponds and
ancillary facilities such as toilets and a boat terminal. There was
also to be nature cum fitness trails and jogging tracks running
though the nature parks and the golf course.
the former PA government approved this project there was a public
outcry and the UNP which was at the time in opposition described the
alienation of land in Kotte for a golf cub as a corrupt transaction
of the PA government.
UNP however when it took office in 2001 were advised against
canceling the agreement with APGCL having been warned the matter
would bear serious legal repercussions.
Chandrika Kumaratunga and former Housing and Construction Minister
Mangala Samaraweera stand responsible for having pushed through
necessary approvals granting 233 acres of land to APGCL for a
the very inception it is the President who personally mooted and
pushed the proposal through by way of a cabinet memorandum in 1998.
Controversy even then raged as charges were made that Ronnie Peiris,
a close confidant and friend of the president, had picked up a
commission of Rs. 30 million from investors. A charge Peiris never
July this year, when Kumaratunga suddenly decided to cancel the
lease to APGCL after the company had invested over Rs. 1 billion
there has been speculation that an additional commission not paid to
Ronnie Peiris by the new Chairman, APGCL, Sumal Perera is the result
of Kumaratunga's volt-face.
has been heard publicly complaining of having been
"cheated" by Access Holdings. This is despite the fact he
was never at any stage a Director or Shareholder of APGCL before or
after Access Holdings took control and ownership of the company.
mystery of the missing Mano Master
Rajaratnam alias Mano Master
reported disappearance under mysterious circumstances in
Colombo of a senior anti-Tiger Tamil politician has aroused
strong suspicion of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)
being involved in the act.
Rajaratnam alias Mano Master went missing from his temporary
residence in Maligawatte since November 21. There is no
conclusive evidenceof Tiger involvement in the matter at this
juncture but the information available so far plus the track
record of the Tigers in cases like these helps point the
finger of suspicion in that direction.
Mano Master was at one time a minister in the North-East
Provincial administration led by Annamalai Varatharajapperumal.
was living in Kodambakkam, Chennai and functioned as the Secretary
of the Eelam National Democratic Liberation Front (ENDLF) led by
Gnapiragasam Gnanasegeram alias Paranthan Rajan. He was a founder
member of the ENDLF. Mano Master however shot into the limelightwhen
appointed recently as coordinator and chief spokesperson of the
newly formed Tamil Eelam United Liberation Front. (Tamil Eelam
Ikkiya Viduthalai Munnani).
new front comprised the ENDLF and the political party - Tamil Eelam
Peoples Liberation Tigers (Tamil Eelam Makkal Viduthalai Puligal) -
launched by former Eastern Tiger Commander, Vinayagamoorthy
Muralitharan alias "Col" Karuna. While Karuna and
Paranthan Rajan were the joint leaders, Rajaratnam alias Mano Master
as coordinator became the active and visible functionary of the new
party. Gnanasegaram's brother Gnanarajah was the secretary of both
Karuna's party as well as the new joint front.
ENDLF had virtually become defunct in Sri Lanka from the mid 90's.
The Leader, Paranthan Rajan was in Bangalore with some stalwarts
running a school and orphanage. Other ENDLF cadres were living in
camps in the state of Orissa and in Salem District of Tamil Nadu.
Many ENDLF members scattered and were living in various parts of
Tamil Nadu and in different countries of the world. Former ENDLF
Secretary, Veeraiya Ramaraj alias Mustapha for instance is in London
running the Tamil broadcasting corporation radio station.
the tie-up with Karuna, the ENDLF decided to re-enter active
politics in Sri Lanka and set about reactivating and reorganising
the party. Mano Master arrived in Colombo some weeks ago with a
group of 10 senior ENDLF members from India. The group dispersed in
Sri Lanka and began party work establishing contact with former
ENDLF members as well as those Eastern Tigers supporting Karuna.
Mano apparently wasresiding temporarily at Maligawatte.
in Colombo, Mano Master was in close touch with his friend and
comrade Rangappa. Forty nine-year-old Rangappa whose real name was
Anneston Ellison Ockersz hailed from the tiny Burgher community in
Batticaloa. He was popularly known as "Sonnaboy" in the
land of the singing fish.
or Sonnaboy joined the Peoples Liberation Organisation of Tamil
Eelam (PLOTE) in 1983. He joined the Eeswaran faction of Batticaloa
that rebelled against Umamaheswaran's leadership in 1986 and went to
India. Later this faction teamed up with another PLOTE splinter
group led by Paranthan Rajan and formed together the ENDLF.
Rangappah had been staying in Chennai with Mano Master.
or Rangappa was directed by the ENDLF hierarchy to go to Sri Lanka
and establish contact with Karuna about three months ago. He arrived
in Colombo and stayed with his sister at Dematagoda. His interaction
with Karuna was successful and the fruits of his mission became
visible when the Paranthan Rajan-Karuna merger took place. Rangappa
remained in Colombo liaising between the ENDLF and Karuna's group.
After Mano Master arrived in Colombo Rangappa moved closely with
alias Mano Master too was formerly of the PLOTE. He is from
Kilinochchi adjacent to Paranthan where the ENDLF Leader, Gnasegeram
alias Rajan is from. Mano joined the PLOTE in 1981 after the
Praba-Uma split in the LTTE. When Paranthan Rajan broke away in 1987
he too followed suit. They grouped themselves as the ENDLF and took
a strident pro-Indian stance after the Indo-Lanka accord.
ENDLF along with the EPRLF (Eelam Peoples Revolutionary Liberation
Front) was propped up by India in the late 80's. The new N-E
administration under Perumal had three EPRLF and one ENDLF
ministers. When Ganeshalingam of the ENDLF was killed by the LTTE
Rajaratnam alias Mano Master succeeded him and became
AgricultureMinister. He fled to India after the Indian Army quit Sri
Lanka in March 1990.
stayed in Orissa, Salem, Bangalore at different times and finally
ended up at Kodambakkam with his family. His children are studying
in India. Incidently Mano is a kinsman of Suppiah Paramu
Thamilselvan, the LTTE political wing chief.
the Karuna-Rajan tie-up Mano became politically active again. He
went up to New Delhi personally and handed over a memorandum to the
Norwegian envoy to India demanding that Oslo quit the Sri Lankan
peace process. He then spent several days lobbying Indian officials
to obtain support for the new Karuna-Rajan front.
Mano Master's link with Karuna became known, the LTTE went to his
aged mother's house in Jaffna. The Tigers went to 96/6 Station Lane,
Jaffna and threatened Rasamani Packiyanathan on October 3o. They
wanted her to reveal details about her son's whereabouts. They also
warned her of dire consequences befallingMano Master. Rajaratnam
sent a formal letter on November 4 complaining about the harassment
of his mother and threats issued to the Norway led Sri Lanka
Master had by then arrived in Colombo to begin his political
activity. He participated at a seminar organised by the JVP at the
BMICH and spoke out against Norway and the LTTE. He was also
scheduled to attend the Lipton Circus protest demonstration but
failed to turn up. It was only when Mano failed to turn up for the
protest that ENDLF circles became fully aware of his disappearance.
place that both Mano as well as Rangappa frequented often was a
barber saloon on Borella Road in Maradana. This was "managed"by
Mano Master's cousin brother. Another employee at the saloon became
Mano Master's trusted guide and confidante in Colombo. He was highly
recommended as trustworthy by Mano's cousin brother.
November 24 Mano Master left with this trusted youth to inspect a
house in Colombo 7. The party wanted to set up an office in Colombo.
He never returned. Neither did the man who accompanied him.
Intriguingly Mano Master did not take his confidante Rangappa with
him on that mission.
to ENDLF sources, Mano Master's cousin was none other than the son
of Ganesh alias "Vellai" (Whitey) the well-known barber
saloon owner in Kilinochchi. Vellai is considered very influential
with the LTTE. Several Tamil expatriates had used him as a middleman
to negotiate with the LTTE and get their seized property back.
Ganesh's wife and Mano Master's mother were sisters.
Vellai's twin sons were in the LTTE. One of these came to Colombo
some years ago to Colombo saying that he had left the movement .
After working for a while at the Maradana saloon he soon acquired a
controlling interest in the saloon and became its manager. He had
been immensely helpful to Mano Master upon the latter's arrival in
Colombo. Despite the Tiger past, Mano Master got along well with his
cousin and apparently had no cause to mistrust him.
the other twin brother was an active member of the LTTE and
acknowledged to be a member of Pottu Amman's dreaded intelligence
wing. This person had subsequently visited this saloon andmet Mano
Master. He had also quietly gathered information about his ENDLF
are the ways of Tamil militancy. There are instances of family ties
and caste affiliations transcending political loyalties. Likewise
political loyalties have been paramount to personal relationships
too. It is now felt that both Mano Master's cousins were operatives
of Pottu Amman.
was openly known while the other seems to have been a secret agent.
With the wisdom of hindsight Mano Master seems to have erred
grievously in trusting his cousins. Blood has certainly not been as
thick as water.
in Colombo Mano Master had also been sent a "feeler" by
the Tigers through the cousin that LTTE supremo Velupillai
Pirapaharan wanted to meet him personally over an important matter.
Mano was guaranteed personal safety. When he contacted the ENDLF in
India, the Bangalore hierarchy suspected a trap. Mano was asked to
return to India. Thereafter Mano made arrangements to go back and
according to ENDLF sources was expected to take flight to India on
Mano Master went missing, his friend Rangappa was murdered in
Colombo on the 25. According to ENDLF sources, the LTTE killer squad
known as the Akhilan group had gone to Rangappa's sister's house and
were waiting for Rangappa. The sisters family too were held at
gunpoint. The killers had then taken Rangappa out and shot him dead.
sources now suspect that once the LTTE realised that Mano was
unwilling to travel to Kilinochchi and had decided to return to
India, the Tigers were compelled to strike. Rangappa's murder and
Mano's disappearance suggests that the LTTE wanted the new party's
coordinator alive. Had the Tigers wanted to kill Mano gunning him
downlike in the case of Sonnaboy would have been simple. Mano Master
was extremely valuable to the LTTE alive because of the wealth of
information in his possession.
a senior ENDLF hand and long resident in India Mano will be
suspected of having intimate relations with India's RAW. He will
also know everything about the ENDLF. Moreover he may also be
knowledgeable about Karuna's men and whereabouts. The LTTE's primary
obsession is about Karuna. The ENDLF and Mano Master became
vulnerable on account of the tie-up with the Eastern Tiger renegade.
The conjecture therefore is that Mano was drugged and taken alive to
the Wanni via the Negombo sea route or the Cheddikulam land route.
have doubts. There is one school of thought which believes that Mano
went willingly to Kilinochchi. Rangappa is cited in support of this
contention. This viewpoint is that Mano went to Kilinochchi
willingly to meet the LTTE supremo and Rangappa knew about it. Hence
his business as usual attitude.
Rangappa may have been killed due to two reasons. Mano Master may
not have been cooperative as expected in Kilinochchi and so his
confidante had to be silenced to cover up tracks. With Rangappa's
death there is no credible witness capable of testifying the exact
truth about what befell Mano Master. Secondly, a Tiger hit squad
acting independently may have discovered Rangappa's presence in
Colombo and eliminated him.
the well-oiled LTTE propaganda machine went into full gear. Tiger
propagandists have in recent times embarked on a campaign to blame
"others" for their killings. The murders of EPDP stalwarts
like Sinna Bala, Bawan, Singham etc are being depicted as
"internal" killings. The Tamil media in Sri Lanka
collaborate in this disinformation campaign through acts of omission
ENDLF circles were trying to trace what had happened to Mano Master,
the Tigers planted an identical story in some Tamil newspapers. This
story charged that Karuna and Mano Master had fallen out over an
alleged EPDP connection. So it was Karuna's men who had abducted
Mano Master it was alleged. Once these news stories appeared Mano
Master's aged mother in Jaffna was "pressurised" to
complain to the Human Rights Commission to investigate her son's
alleged abduction at the hands of Karuna's men.
prompted ENDLF Leader, Paranthan Rajan to write to Norway and the
Colombo government alleging that Mano had been abducted by the
Tigers. He urged that the matter be urgently investigated and that
Mano be rescued from Tiger clutches.
Gnanarajah the secretary of Karuna's party also issued a statement
refuting LTTE propaganda. He too urged that action be taken to
secure the release of Mano Master .
to ENDLF circles, the man who accompanied Mano Master on a house
hunting mission has been taken into custody by the police. He claims
that he and Mano returned safely after inspecting the house and that
he is not aware of what had happened to Mano thereafter. ENDLF
sources also said that the Maradana saloon was temporarily closed
and people employed had disappeared. It is obvious that only a
genuine, efficient and speedy investigation could ascertain the
truth about Mano Master's disappearance.
Mano Master is all alone now. The absence of firm proof that he has
indeed been abducted by the LTTE is likely to mute protests.
Charging the LTTE with abduction is only a conjecture at present. So
like many others before him who were taken by the LTTE and merely
vanished from the face of the earth, Mano Master too could disappear
without a trace. Only a miracle could save him.
Mano Master's relationship with Thamilselvan and Vellai, some feel
that Mano will not be harmed in Kilinochchi. If he is indeed in
Tiger clutches and cooperates well, the possibility of his surfacing
safely at some time is not ruled out by these circles. Others
however doubt it.
will not count they say and point to Mano's own cousin being the
decoy. Also the ENDLF may not get off lightly as the Tigers are
furious with anyone perceived as having helped Karuna. Mano's high
profile visibility as Karuna-Rajan front spokesperson will doom him
it is felt.
Mano is really abducted by the LTTE and is in Tiger custody, the
chances of his ever being released seem highly unlikely. The LTTE
will not want international pressure on them to get him released and
so will keep mum. Norway is unlikely to lift a finger to help a man
who wants the Scandinavians out. After all we are all witnesses to
the blatant partisanship displayed by Norway towards the LTTE in the
Karuna affair. India will not want to be accused of any
"clandestine" activity in Sri Lanka and so will keep aloof
from this matter.
is a tragic element of pathos in all this. Here are two old
warhorses one 50 years of age and the other 49 leaving the
comfortable safety of Chennai and returning to the land of their
birth to do what they believe was their duty. They arrive in Colombo
and within weeks one goes missing and the other is killed. Nobody
seems bothered and both will soon become two statistics in the
endlessly increasing lists of the disappeared and executed.
man whose organisation is suspected of being responsible for these
acts is also in the age group of his victims. Happily for him he is
in the right place at the right time. Even as the loved ones of Mano
Master and Sonnaboy worry and lament over the fate of these men,
Velupillai Pirapaharan celebrates his 50th birthday.
of sycophants heap obsequeisies in a unseen manner praising his life
and wishing him a long life. While poojas and functions are held all
over the globe highlighting the "life" of Pirapaharan,
others who dared to hold different political opinion are being
mercilessly deprived of life.
overwhelming sense of sadness envelopes one as idealistic Tamils who
once took up arms to liberate their people are destroyed in the name
of that very liberation. The greatest of all human rights is being
crushed ruthlessly and ceaselessly. With drums of war threatening to
reach a crescendo again the endless procession of coffins can onlygo
on and on.
Chandrika Kumaratunga and Premier Mahinda Rajapakse
Chandrika Kumaratunga last week had to deal with the security
situation in Trincomalee after violence erupted between two
communities there. Her security chiefs had informed her that the
situation in Trincomalee was serious and steps needed to be taken to
also warned the President that if the tension continued, the LTTE
would also get what they want. The security chiefs reported that the
JVP was busy in Trincomalee inflaming communal sentiment. They told
the President that they were finding it especially hard to contain
the situation because the JVP was also a partner in the government.
don't you summon the JVP leaders and warn them severely?" one
official attending the discussion asked the President. He received
an unexpected response from the President however. "I do not
meet them. They see me as a bibikkama apparently," she said.
her frustrations further, Kumaratunga said, "from morning till
night they are sending me letters saying that they want to meet me.
But they go out and say something completely different. I have no
intention of meeting them at all!"
President had also decided to respond to Pirapaharan's speech.
However, it was finally agreed that the response would not be
directly from her, but from the government information department.
opposes 72 hour plan
special cabinet meeting was held last Saturday (27). The President
sent orders to set up this meeting form Iran and everyone thought it
was in order to make an important decision about the LTTE Leader's
Premier Mahinda Rajapakse who presided over the meeting, brought up
a completely different matter altogether. He raised the issue of
Senior High Court Judge, Sarath Ambepitiya's murder and the rapidly
increasing crime wave in the country and the steps that needed to be
taken to curb the wave of violence.
Minister, John Seneviratne had put forward several proposals in a
cabinet paper about the steps that needed to be taken, and mentioned
that the President had also been sent a detailed report on what
action had been suggested.
proposals included the need to amend laws pertaining to detention of
suspects in police custody allowing for a longer period and the
transfer of certain cases directly to the High Court. Seneviratne
said that he had made these suggestions because the President had
asked him what action could be taken as swiftly as possible to curb
the wave of crime.
recommendations included increasing the permitted hours of detention
of a suspect from 24 to 72 and assigning all rape and murder cases
to the High Court. According to the proposals, non-summary cases
would no longer be taken up in Magistrate Courts. When the Justice
Minister listed out these proposals, a deafening silence prevailed
over the cabinet members. It was the Premier who first broke the
am not in complete agreement," Rajapakse said, adding "I
have a problem of principles on this issue. We do not know how these
amendments will affect other people. But you have an issue about
these non-summary cases."
pointed out that if cases were transferred from Magistrate Courts to
High Courts, it would affect about 1500 lawyers currently serving in
magistrate courts. He said that ministers who were also lawyers
could well understand this problem. The Premier said that such an
amendment to the law would result in lawyers rising in protest.
went on to say that when the UNF government brought in an amendment
to extend the detention period to 72 hours, he had opposed the moves
as leader of the opposition. "We can't change the law according
to what the police wants. It is because of their shortcomings that
this situation has arisen in the first place. They are asking us to
cover these flaws up and take alternative steps to curb crime. When
suspects are detained for prolonged periods, all kind of inhumane
things take place," he said.
Prime Minister went on to say that when the UNF brought this
proposal forward, he met with then Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe and
voiced his opposition to the move. The UNF accordingly suspended the
plans, he said. "The same police officials that advised the UNF
then are now giving us the same advice," Rajapakse added.
rest of the ministers started to chip in after the Premier's
statements. The JVP ministers who did not appear to understand much
about the issue began to voice their opposition to the moves, having
comprehended it better after Rajapakse's explanation. They said that
they had opposed the emergency regulations in the past as well, and
these proposals seemed like bringing in those same restrictions in a
speaking up at this juncture was Health Minister, Nimal Siripala De
Silva who said that such moves were also introduced during Prime
Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike's time and lawyers had opposed the
moves then too.