By Sonali Samarasinghe
'Because it's there,' famous
alpinist, George Mallory once replied, when
asked why he had climbed a mountain. It was
an answer that would become the manthra of
climbers ever since.
Alas for the Tamil citizenry in
Colombo any reply which includes the words
'because it was there' or the more common
Sri Lankan answer to any question 'just,'(nikan)
or ohai innawa, will no longer suffice.
On June 4, last year, at a
confidential meeting at the Overall
Operations Command Headquarters in Colombo,
Defence Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapakse
personally gave orders to evict Tamils from
Colombo lodges. As mothers were separated
from their daughters and bridegrooms
separated from their brides, without warning
over 400 Tamils were packed into waiting
buses and dumped in a camp in Vavuniya.
In an interview last week to the
Sunday Lankadeepa Gotabaya Rajapakse was
defiant. He said, 'there are lakhs of Tamils
in Colombo. We sent back 300 of them who
were in Colombo without a valid reason.'
Who among us hasn't been somewhere
without a valid reason? One may find oneself
in Malabe of a morning with no real reason
to be there. One of the benefits of being a
citizen of a country is that you have a
right to be anywhere in that country without
having to proffer an explanation to anybody
much less to an ugly American from Los
One doubts, that should Gotabaya
travel to his home in Los Angeles for
Valentine's Day this February, he would be
prevented by the federal police from
gamboling on the streets in Las Vegas or
Arkansas or Atlanta, on the basis he had no
valid reason to be there. However given the
tone of last Sunday's interview it is
unlikely Gotabaya would appreciate the
Let's take the Defence Secretary's
interview step by painful step. Or let's
not. Let's instead go straight to his desire
to change the supreme law of this land to
set himself up cosily. In the interview
Gotabaya advocates an amendment to the
Constitution of Sri Lanka that would forever
institutionalise nepotism. He advocates that
an amendment be made to the Constitution
that would make it compulsory that a future
president of Sri Lanka appoint his brother
the secretary of defence.
with four brothers in top positions in
government controlling 80 percent of the
country's economy, and over 128 relatives
appointed to various key positions in the
Presidential Secretariat and other vital
departments, and paid for by public funds,
Gotabaya finds no distaste in saying this.
There would have probably been no
tinge of shame on his cheek of modesty as he
put forward this proposition. Mind you the
reforms he envisaged did not include sisters
or provisos in case a future President was
not blessed with a brother or sibling of any
sort. Perchance, he is of the view Percival
Mahindra of Medamulane will be President
We wonder whether this is a
practice he advocates for the banana
republic Sri Lanka is today or whether he
would like it adopted a universal principle?
Is he saying that in the US the defence
secretary should be the brother of President
Bush and that the constitution should have
been amended for that purpose?
In last Sunday's interview he calls
himself a superior and super secretary
arguing that only he as a sibling had access
to the President at any given hour. Only he,
he said was able to call the President at 12
midnight or discuss with him the true
position with regard to casualties or other
defence matters. Surely if access and
proximity are the criteria, should not
Shiranthi Rajapakse, the First Lady qualify
for the job?
After all she is the proud daughter
of a top naval officer who served the
country with distinction and more
importantly sleeps right next to the
President. Ditto for Laura Bush.
Alas, nonetheless, he would find
upon introspection that he is not as close
to the President as he thinks. He was to
tell the Lankadeepa interviewer that the
economic condition of the country was due to
the war even though his brother had never
made that an excuse and that time frames
should never be given for the war.
Did this super secretary not know
that Rajapakse supporting the war had, just
a week before assured the Indian press that
peace would be achieved in a year? Had this
superior secretary not been told by his
brother, the President, that on several
occasions hehad warned the public they would
have to endure economic hardship and tighten
their belts due to the war effort and had in
fact blamed all the ills of the country on
That Gotabaya as per his interview
is not only delighted that the CFA is no
more but also wants the LTTE banned in Sri
Lanka with immediate effect necessarily
means that he has ruled out a political
solution through talks. And with no
monitoring mechanisms in place to entertain
complaints of human rights violations,
Gotabaya, with what can only be called
overbearing audacity states, 'Look at what's
happening today. If someone is arrested or
is killed by the armed forces they say he is
an ICRC worker, a Red Cross worker, an INGO
worker, NGO worker or if not all this that
he is a journalist. The person who
distributes papers has also become a
The Defence Secretary by this,
effectively accuses the ICRC, the Red Cross
and other humanitarian agencies of
fraudulently claiming that a person killed
or injured is a member of their organisation.
Not only that, he accuses these
organisations of complicity with the Tigers.
As for even paperboys being called
journalists by interested parties as he
alleges, Gotabaya, who claims he can call
his brother the President at all odd hours,
should know that even his own brother was at
one time famously known as the 'cabinet
reporter.' Yes, anyone can be a reporter.
Furthermore it was following a plot
hatched between a dubious political office
clerk purporting to be a website editor,
President Mahinda Rajapakse and EPDP Leader
Douglas Devananda in Switzerland last June,
that Karuna was packed off and Pillayan put
in his place.
Gotabaya knows well that he has now
been named by Karuna in a London Court as
the man who gave him the forged diplomatic
passport and facilitated the terrorist's
escape. Despite a denial by Gotabaya of any
involvement in Karuna's escape to the UK,
the evidence, both direct and circumstantial
this newspaper has revealed elsewhere in
today's issue proves otherwise.
With measured nonchalance he says
some innocents may be arrested but it can't
be helped. 'Even I do not like being stopped
and searched,' he says. Luckily there is
little chance of that happening to him given
he has served himself the privilege of
stopping vehicular traffic and clearing
roads at any given hour, for him to motor
down any highway or by-way.
'If a hundred are caught 10-15 may
be innocent,' Gotabaya admits in his
interview. He gives the classic example of
how his own brother, President Rajapakse was
accused of murder and jailed. Extracting
sympathy left and right he says, 'When my
mother died, the President was in jail - for
a false charge of killing a man.'
It is true that President Rajapakse
was discharged in that case for lack of
evidence. But assuming the veracity of the
facts as told by Gotabaya, do two wrongs
make a right?
It is obvious Gotabaya is not
comfortable with the media that does not
grovel before him. It is this that prompts
him to say that if he had the power he would
not allow the media to write anything about
the war. Whether this blanket censorship
would include the government's grossly
exaggerated figures of dead and injured LTTE
cadres and other propaganda was not
'The public do not need to know
about weaponry. What is there, what was
procured but only what is generally
happening with the war,' he said. Why
Gotabaya, who in September 2006 formed a
private company for the procurement of all
arms and ammunition, under the auspices of
the state of which he became subscriber
director, does not want the media spotlight
on procurements was not made immediately
clear. What was in fact clear was that he
wanted the media watch dog to clear off and
leave him and his brothers to deal with the
war and the Defence Ministry the best way
they thought fit.
Retired and went away
Gotabaya lived safely in America
for 15 years of his adult life having left
the army in the early 1990s under a
retirement scheme on offer. As a US citizen,
while he advocates media censorship for the
war he now seeks to fight, the question is
whether he will advocate the same for the US
media on the war in Iraq? Everyday official
numbers of American soldiers whose lives are
lost in Iraq are officially published. They
are respected and named and mourned.
Supress the media?
Today Bush leaves the White House a
veritable laughing stock due to his war on
terror in Iraq based on false and
discredited evidence regarding Weapons of
Mass Destruction. While the American media
uncomfortably review themselves over their
apparent lack of perception and insight in
swallowing the biggest WMD lie in the
history of the civilised world, does this
super secretary also advocate media
censorship on the war on Iraq? Come on Gota,
go tell it to the Marines. Meanwhile,
Gotabaya's call to suppress the media and
bring back criminal defamation came just 72
hours after Karuna, now serving a jail term
in the UK for travelling on forged
documents, named him as the person who
facilitated his travel.
His arrogance is all the more
absurd as Gotabaya attempts to foist upon
the Tamil people two leaders for their
community. 'Only two Tamil leaders remain'
he says. That is TULF head, V.
Anandasangaree and EPDP Leader, Douglas
Devananda. While Pillayan showing his
affinity to the government has decided to
run with the government at the upcoming
eastern polls, The Sunday Leader learns
Pillayan has already made threatening noises
against PLOTE Leader Siddarthan, Devananda
and Anandasangaree, issuing a warning they
would not be allowed to effectively campaign
in the east.
Gotabaya is living in a dream world
if he thinks either Pillayan, Pirapaharan or
any other Tamil leader or politician will
allow him to choose their leader for them.
It is officious and idiotic that he would as
a Defence Secretary make such a statement to
the Sinhala media. But force feeding is a
fashion for those from Medamulane it seems.
His brother, Mahinda force-fed a solution
based on the 13th Amendment to the long
suffering but spineless APRC.
Gotabaya also comments that the
likes of Devananda need round the clock
protection while stating that people like
Mano Ganesan don't even need security as
they are persons who talk to the LTTE. It is
when they deal with the LTTE and things go
wrong that they should get scared, he says.
In the same vein he continues about
Maheswaran. Maheswaran came a cropper
because he did business with the LTTE. He
did a business deal with them and when the
money wasn't given he was killed by the LTTE
itself, Gotabaya alleges.
Surely then by the same logic, the
President too does not need security because
he too had dealings with the LTTE and was
even accused of passing money under bogus
housing projects to fulfill a pre election
deal. Mirror, mirror on the wall.
He also laments in the interview
that Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe
has referred to him as 'Ugly Gota' in the
presence of diplomats. 'He calls me 'ugly'
then he asks me to give security, there is
no meaning to this. This is where we want
the help of the media,' he says.
Whether Gotabaya is angling for a
prime spot in the Hi Magazine one does not
know but perhaps he is ignorant of the well
known term 'Ugly American' which is in fact
the phrase Wickremesinghe reportedly used.
The term has nothing to do with appearances
but attitudes and actions. The Ugly American
is the title of a 1958 political novel by
Eugene Burdick and William Lederer which
became an influential bestseller. The novel
described how the United States was losing
the struggle with Communism - what was later
to be called the battle for hearts and minds
in Southeast Asia, because of arrogance and
failure to understand the local culture.
In the context of this novel, the
title alludes to both positive and negative
attributes of its characters. The authors
state that one of the "good"
characters is "ugly" looking to
create a contrast with the "bad"
characters who were "handsome."
For example there is an "ugly"
engineer who helps villagers with an
irrigation system, and a
"handsome" ambassador who does not
care about what happens to the people on the
The term is now widely used to
refer to perceptions of arrogant, demeaning,
thoughtless behaviour of Americans at home
Cocky and ignorant
in the interview comes out as a brash
racist, ultra rightist, attempting to tell a
people who has suffered immeasurably while
he was living it up in Los Angeles what to
do with their lives. His cocky attitude can
only be borne out of ignorance, having gone
straight from places like Medamulane to the
US. Gotabaya like many other migrants living
in Melbourne, Sydney, London, Los Angeles
and Toronto are caught up in a time warp.
Having left their motherland and
gone to Western countries where they often
are compelled to engage in professions that
they were not accustomed to back home, they
grow nostalgic. Treated as third class
citizens, they see a sharp contrast between
themselves as first generation migrants and
their sophisticated children often born in
the new country of residence.
It does not matter that thousands
of village boys die in a bid to fight a war
they do not believe in while their own
children sip coffee at wayside cafs on the
rue de la pais and obtain Harvard degrees.
These migrants hold on to their prejudices
and hates from 20-30 years ago while the
true Sri Lankan has long ago shed him and
herself of all that garbage. Of these ugly
migrants, Gotabaya is one.
Finally, once while resting on a
rock during a short trek in Nepal, an
American (Ugly) walker stopped and showed
the great Conqueror of Everest, Edmond
Hillary how to hold an ice-axe. Hillary
listened and thanked him, but said nothing
else. The American went away with no idea to
whom he had spoken.
There is a lesson in this tale for
the likes of Gotabaya who lived 15 years in
the US while the sons and daughters of the
soil bore the brunt of terrorism.
allegiance to be a US citizen
"I hereby declare, on oath,
that I absolutely and entirely
renounce and abjure all allegiance and
fidelity to any foreign prince,
potentate, state, or sovereignty of
whom or which I have heretofore been a
subject or citizen; that I will
support and defend the Constitution
and laws of the United States of
America against all enemies, foreign
and domestic; that I will bear true
faith and allegiance to the same; that
I will bear arms on behalf of the
United States when required by law;
that I will perform noncombatant
service in the armed forces of the
United States when required by the
law; that I will perform work of
national importance under civilian
direction when required by the law;
and that I take this obligation freely
without any mental reservation or
purpose of evasion; so help me
bites the dust over dirty deals
gagged Inoka with part of
Handunnetti's hand around her
By Malaika Fernando
The internal conflict within the JVP that
intensified with the unofficial house arrest
of one of its Colombo District
Parliamentarians, Sunil Handunnetti, has
further deepened adding several new twists
to the saga.
The Handunnetti saga brought to the open
the involvement of the JVP in various
underhand deals, links to casino kings and
strong-arm tactics to keep the members in
In a new twist to the Handunnetti story, a
woman claiming to be a close confidant of
the JVP Parliamentarian spoke to The Sunday
Leader. She spoke to The Sunday Leader after
the issue ended up in court last week
following a complaint made to the police by
the man the JVP has accused of leaking the
details of the inner party crisis to the
media. She also decided to go public, it was
claimed, because the party attempted to deny
the whole issue leading to fears that harm
will come Handunnetti's way and of course
It was following the revelations of the
inner party workings that the man the JVP
suspected of having leaked the information
to the media, Sampath Dimuthu Ketapearachchi
came under threat prompting him to make a
police complaint and highlight the plight
faced by Handunnetti at the hands of the JVP.
For the JVP the issue becoming public and
ending up in court was disastrous,
especially considering the image the party
was projecting to the public, and
Handunnetti was directed to issue a
statement disassociating himself from the
suspected informant who had lodged the
That denial Handunnetti made, going so far
as to say he does not even know the man
concerned but that lie also now stands
exposed with photographic evidence surfacing
of Handunnetti and his wife, Inoka,
attending the ceremony of reading the first
letters to Ketapearachchi's son. Inoka being
a school teacher and Handunnetti, were asked
to do the honours at the ceremony.
Given this overall situation where the
party was adopting strong arm tactics to
keep the lid on the issue snowballing,
Ketapearachchi decided to go public as an
'insurance policy' for himself.
Thus, following these threats, Sampath
Dimuthu Ketapearachchi lodged a complaint
with the Welikada police on January 26 on
the threats made to him by members of the
Ketapearachchi was an active member of the
JVP and has even spent time in the Badulla,
Haliela and Beragala camps. He is currently
attached to the Textile Industries Ministry
and has been a long standing friend of
Handunnetti and someone whom the latter
trusted enough to confide in him, even the
foulest secrets of the party.
Captured by police
Ketapearachchi had joined the JVP through
the Jathika Shishya Madyasthanaya in the
latter half of the 1980s. During the 1988
and 1989 period he was captured by the
police and detained in several camps.
According him, he and JVP Politburo
Member, Parliamentarian Vijitha Herath were
both held captive at the Beragala camp.
During this period, Ketapearachchi had built
a close link with Herath.
However, after being released,
Ketapearachchi had moved out of active JVP
work. Six years later Herath had contacted
him and urged him to rejoin the party.
During this period, Ketapearachchi had built
close links with many senior party members
It was also Herath who had introduced him
Since then, Ketapearachchi had developed a
close friendship with Handunnetti. The
latter had then started to confide in him on
various deals of the party, the misconduct
of several senior members and also details
of his personal life.
It was Ketapearachchi whom Handunnetti had
turned to when he began to face issues
within the party.
Handunnetti had brought up several cases
involving the party allegedly receiving
financial support from casino owners and
from business establishments, accepting
bribes, of threats and intimidation by
certain members of the JVP itself for
raising these issues within the party and
the illicit love affairs of several senior
JVP members in violation of the party's code
Ketapearachchi told The Sunday Leader that
Handunnetti had stood firm against the
party's decision to accept money from casino
kings and the acceptance of a poster pasting
campaign for a sanitary napkin company.
According to Ketapearachchi, the JVP
Parliamentarian had been disgusted at the
manner in which the party handled the case
involving Bogawanthalawa Plantations and the
sub leasing of 13 of its rubber estates to
The party it is learnt had accepted
financial contributions from Bogawanthalawa
Plantations and had also approached Lalan
Rubbers as well.
Ketapearachchi had been involved in the
case as Handunnetti had taken him along when
he met with the board of directors of
Bogawanthalawa Plantations. Ketapearachchi
said he was introduced to the directors as
After discussing the case with the
directors of Bogawanthalawa Plantations, a
few days later, Ketapearachchi was asked by
Handunnetti to visit Lalan Rubbers and meet
with its head, Lalith Hapangama.
According to Ketapearachchi, during the
conversation, Hapangama had agreed to pay a
sum of Rs. 500,000 to the party funds for
Handunnetti to stop dragging the case
further in parliament. Ketapearachchi had
then increased the amount and requested Rs.
However, neither Bogawanthalawa
Plantations nor Lalan Rubbers had made any
payments to the party through Handunnetti.
Large financial contribution
Ketapearachchi says that Head,
Metropolitan Group of which
Bogawanthalawa Plantations is a member, D.J.
Ambani, had allegedly made a large financial
contribution to the party at the JVP
headquarters. As for Lalan Rubbers, he said
that the owners had allegedly made a payment
to the Patriotic National Movement through
Head of Lalan Rubbers, Lalith Hapangama
however denied making any payments to either
the JVP or any movement affiliated to it. He
also denied ever meeting Weerawansa. Ambani
was not available for comment.
Hapangama had met with Handunnetti several
months back at the latter's Maharagama
office, where the duo had discussed in
detail the Bogawanthalawa case,
Ketapearachchi also charged.
CEO, Bogawanthalawa Tea Estates Limited,
Sarath Fernando also denied making any
financial contributions to the JVP.
Conduct of seniors
However, he conceded that Handunnetti had
visited the Bogawanthalawa office several
times and had on one occasion spoken to him
as well. He also said that the company, to
his knowledge, was not involved in making
any payment to the JVP to resolve the rubber
Be that as it may, Handunnetti, according
to Ketapearachchi was disgruntled with the
party's business dealings and also of the
conduct of certain party seniors, namely,
Handunnetti has had many issues regarding
the conduct of Weerawansa and his family. He
had said that the luxurious lifestyle of the
Weerawansa family was creating a negative
impact on the party's image.
Ketapearachchi says that Handunnetti had
not approved of Weerawansa's expensive
lifestyle and had also opposed the conduct
of the latter's wife. Weerawansa's wife,
Shirsha (Shashi) Udayanthi drives a black
Toyota Vios bearing number WP KG 3214,
valued at several million rupees.
Handunnetti had said that party members at
the grassroots level would question the
party how the wife of a JVP parliamentarian
who does not even receive his MP's salary
could drive around in such an expensive
vehicle and regularly go overseas on
According to Ketapearachchi, Handunnetti,
during the budget debate had felt the party
was going to either eliminate him or take
him prisoner and asked the former for his
help. The duo had then planned for
Handunnetti to settle down in the UK, where
Ketapearachchi had several relatives. It was
planned that Handunnetti, who was to take
part in a parliamentary delegation to
Singapore would fly directly to the UK from
there without returning to the island.
However the plan fell through when
Handunnetti's wife had allegedly informed
the party of her husband's secret plan.
Soon after the whole story appeared in the
media, the JVP started to hunt down those
whom they believed to be involved in
releasing the details to the media.
The first victim was of course
On January 18, when Handunnetti's story
first made it to the news stands, several
senior JVP members had allegedly called
Ketapearachchi and accused him of leaking
According to Ketapearachchi, among the
seniors who called him were Parliamentarians
Vijitha Herath, K.D. Lalkantha, Bimal
Ratnayake and S.K. Subasinghe. They had
accused him of leaking the news to the media
and asked him not to do so in the future if
he knew what was best for him.
On January 22, Lalkantha had allegedly
called Ketapearachchi once more and said
that Party Leader, Somawansa Amarasinghe and
Secretary, Tilvin Silva wanted to meet him.
Ketapearachchi had turned down the request.
Since then he has been the recipient of
several threatening calls allegedly made by
Ketapearachchi says that he has so far
worked to save Handunnetti from his present
plight. According to him, Handunnetti who
had risen against the JVP's business deals
was being considered a stumbling block to
the activities of several seniors.
"Handunnetti knew that he would one
day be a prisoner of his own party and he
told me that in such an event, I had to go
to the media with the details he had given
me. That is what I did," Ketapearachchi
In his complaint to the Welikada police,
Ketapearachchi had named JVP Colombo
District Organiser, Priyantha, Western
Provincial Council Member, Mohamed Nafli and
Colombo Municipal Council Members, Ravi and
Hemantha as arriving in a vehicle bearing
number GK 5045 and threatening to kill him
and dump his body in the Diyawanna Oya.
According to Ketapearachchi, Nafli had
called him from the mobile number
The Welikada police upon receiving
Ketapearachchi's complaint had reported the
facts to court the following day and
obtained approval to proceed with the
investigation including approval to verify
necessary telephone records. The case is
filed as B249/4 in the Colombo Magistrate's
The Welikada police had then submitted a
request to Suntel and Hutch to release phone
call details of the numbers used by
Ketapearachchi. The police are to receive
the detailed bills some time during this
The police have so far recorded statements
from Nafli and Hemantha. In their statements
they have denied the allegations and even
denied knowing Ketapearachchi.
A statement from Handunnetti was to be
recorded on Friday (1) morning. However, the
statement was not recorded that day and is
expected to be done some time this week.
Handunnetti meanwhile has denied knowing
Ketapearachchi and the party on Friday said
that it was part of a mud slinging campaign
carried out by the media.
The JVP has also said that Ketapearachchi
was never a member of the party, a charge
which Ketapearachchi says he could prove as
He said that intelligence reports and
statements recorded of those arrested in the
1988-89 period would clearly prove his
affiliation to the party at the time.
The 'other' woman
It is in this backdrop the woman friend of
Handunnetti approached The Sunday Leader to
corroborate the story of Ketapearachchi.
The woman, 'K' (full name withheld on
request) said that Handunnetti spoke to her
on December 31 last year from some place in
Kalutara. According to her, that was the
last time Handunnetti had called her.
Handunnetti had during the conversation
informed her that he was being held prisoner
by his own party and was facing great
difficulties at their hands. A frightened
Handunnetti had also said that he felt he
would be killed by the party as it was their
way of overcoming obstacles that lay in
According to what Handunnetti told the
woman friend, when former JVP presidential
candidate, politburo member and
Parliamentarian, Nandana Gunathileka
defected from the party, the Marxists had
initially contemplated killing him. However,
the exposure given to the story in the media
had prevented the party from going ahead
with the plan.
Handunnetti therefore had told the woman
friend that he would have to heed the
party's orders and remain there till things
During the telephone conversation,
Handunnetti had also revealed to the woman
friend that the party had forced him to sign
letters stating that he had vacated the
posts held by him in the party.
Although Handunnetti signed the letters in
December, one of the letters was only taken
up at a meeting held on January 23.
It is learnt that the party's Central
Committee that met on January 23 had taken
up the letter for discussion and then
decided to sack Handunnetti from the party.
When he was placed under unofficial house
arrest by the JVP, he served as a member of
several committees in the party - central
committee, district committee and the
international affairs committee.
Handunnetti's female confidant
also said that he was indeed planning
to leave the country due to his
disappointment over the manner in which the
party dealt with certain senior members who
were involved in alleged underhand deals. A
further reason given was the dissension that
was building up against him among the party
leadership as he was the member who raised
these issues during meetings.
She said that Handunnetti was planning to
leave for the UK with a
friend who had a relative there.
"It was then that the party found out
Handunnetti's plan and placed him under
house arrest," she said.
In fact, it has been alleged that it was
Handunnetti's wife, Inoka, a JVP member and
a teacher by profession, who had leaked to
the party leadership her husband's plan to
leave the country.
Her anger it later transpired was partly
due to the relationship Handunnetti had with
the woman confidant. It is to be noted that
while the personal affairs of the JVP
members are of no relevance to this
newspaper, the fact that it has led to
threats and intimidation, especially in the
backdrop of raising funds through
intimidation, makes it a matter of public
And in another startling revelation, the
lady confidant said that Handunnetti had
promised to get her down to the UK once he
settled down there. According to her,
Handunnetti had no plans to take his family
along with him.
give credence to the story that Handunnetti
in fact had a relationship with the woman
confidant and was threatened by the party to
keep silent over it, she also says that
Handunnetti had spent a lot of time with her
and at times taken her along with him on
holiday to various destinations all over the
It was alleged that Handunnetti had booked
the Senpathi bungalow in Nuwara Eliya
through parliament and had taken this woman
confidant along with one of his friends on
August 20, 2005.
further details to establish the
relationship in the face of the party's
denial of the whole sordid drama, she said
during the budget debate last November,
Handunnetti had taken her out for a drive in
a vehicle belonging to another JVP MP.
However, on their way back, Handunnetti had
crashed the double cab on to a wall down
Kuruppu Road in Borella, she said.
The vehicle that belonged to Kegalle
District JVP Parliamentarian, Anuruddha
Polgampola was then taken to a garage in
Madiwela for repairs.
According to the woman friend, the party
seniors were aware of Handunnetti's
friendship with her. She alleges that the
party seniors who knew about it tried to
cover it up as they believed it would have a
negative impact on the party's so called
image if it were to come out in the open.
"How can the party seniors say they
did not know about me? Many in the party
knew of my connection to Handunnetti. In
fact he was sometimes driven to my place by
JVP members like Ravi and Rathu Aiya,"
However, she charged that when she tried
to contact several party seniors to inquire
into Handunnetti's well being, they had
disconnected the line after claiming not to
know her or her connection to the JVP
She also told The Sunday Leader that
following her calls several senior party
members had allegedly threatened her and
asked her to keep silent about her dealings
Handunnetti however has now denied through
the media that he was being placed under
unofficial house arrest. Last week he said
in a political interview that he was
carrying on with his work 'freely.'
However, he admitted that he had cleared
his house in the Madiwela MP's quarters.
According to him, he had to leave Madiwela
due to the lack of security at the MPs'
Interestingly, the MPs' quarters is
provided with round the clock security and
no outsider is permitted into a MP's
residence without prior approval granted to
the security personnel by the respective
Further, Handunnetti in the interview also
claimed to have changed his mobile number to
go for a phone with better facilities and
said he was 'freely using' his new number.
However, Handunnetti could not be
contacted on his new mobile number
0773-908760 as it was switched off.
With all these twists and turns the JVP is
looking for new avenues to dupe the public
to detract from the issues confronting the
country and the latest gimmick is India
bashing over the 13th Amendment with a
threat to defeat the government if the
implementation process is proceeded with.
a car park out of a heritage building
Building which once gave Fort its identity,
is now a car park
By Arthur Wamanan
A part of an architectural monument in
Fort and declared as a heritage building by
the Urban Development Authority (UDA) on a
recommendation by the Department of
Archaeology has been converted into a car
monument declared as a heritage building
based on its historical significance has in
fact been recently renovated with part of
the building converted into a car park in
stark violation of the prevailing laws.
The building, popularly known as the
Gaffoor Building forms part of Sri Lanka's
British heritage and is allegedly owned by
one of the famous Wijeratne brothers, Lal
Wijeratne of Burns International fame.
Declared heritage building
This building situated in the Fort area is
a heritage building, declared as such by the
Department of Archaeology under the
The building had already seen some serious
alterations to its inner fa‡ade with some
of the stained glass and the teak frames
removed with the basement being converted
into a car park.
What is more, given the dilapidated
condition of the building that has led to a
costly renovation scheme, many question the
safety factor in
having a car park there.
Besides, the heritage building though
privately owned by Wijeratne cannot be
altered without the necessary approvals and
there is both the Commissioner General of
Archaeology and a top UDA official stating
that they have not approved any such
"The features of heritage buildings
cannot be altered and conversions are
illegal unless permission is obtained from
the relevant authorities," emphasises
Commissioner of Archaeology, Dr. Senarath
Part of history
The building is a colonial masterpiece and
represents the British era. Like several
other buildings in the area, this monument
was declared as forming part of colonial
history in Colombo due to its architectural
Meanwhile, a top UDA official too
confirmed that permission has not been
granted to convert or alter the Gaffoor
Building in any way.
The top official told The Sunday Leader
that there was serious confusion with regard
to the ownership of the building.
"We issued certain clearances earlier
on. But, we realise the building is in a bad
condition. There is a legal tangle about its
ownership and several ongoing police
investigations. The UDA is currently not
getting involved wanting the ownership issue
to be cleared first. Then we will step
in," the high-ranking official added.
However the official said that no approval
was granted by the UDA on the conversion of
the Gaffoor Building into a car park and it
should not happen.
Clearance not granted
"We are unaware of the present status
of the Gaffoor Building," he stated.
The UDA provides the planning clearance
for the development of a building. The
party, which plans to develop the building
should duly submit the plans and obtain UDA
clearance. "If not it is an
illegality," the officer claimed.
There is also a role for the Colombo
Municipal Council (CMC) to play in this
respect. Once the UDA approves development
plans of a building, declared a heritage or
otherwise, it is the CMC's City Planning
Division that should issue a Certificate of
A top CMC official when questioned about
the procedural requirement added: "We
have not issued any certificate of
conformity. In fact there was no request for
such made with plans submitted," he
In the meantime, disputed owner Lal
Wijeratne remained uncontactable despite
several attempts made by The Sunday Leader.
A part of our national heritage
- Archaeology Commissioner
Commissioner General of Archeology, Dr.
Senarath Dissanayake told The Sunday
Leader that the Gaffoor Building was
gazetted as a 'Protected Monument'
under the Antiquities Ordinance due to
its historical value.
"Such buildings represent an era and
form part of the national heritage of
This building was so declared
post year 2000 upon a recommendation
by the National Heritage
Commission," he said.
He added that the building continues to be
privately owned though declared a
The building is in very bad condition and
the money spent on its conservation is
expected to be in the range of several
millions of rupees, Dr. Dissanayake
"It is in a dilapidated condition and
on the verge of collapsing. The worst
thing is the water that seeps
underneath making the foundation
weak," he noted.
He explained that some 10 heritage
buildings existed in the Fort and
Pettah area, all of which but one
belonging to the early British period.
"One belongs to the Dutch period. It
is now being used as a police
hospital," he said.
"They are declared as protected
monuments according to their
architectural values under the
Antiquities Ordinance," he said
claiming that whether private or state
owned, there character could not be
altered without the necessary approval
to do so.