“DANNO DANITH” ! REPLY TO EDWARD GUNAWARDENA’S REPLY ON JAFFNA LIBRARY FIRE
Posted on April 11th, 2013

By Gamini Gunawardane

It is unfortunate that the editor of “ƒ”¹…”Sunday Island’ on 3rd March, had decided to close further discussion on this matter in his Paper. Yet, since Edward has raised some new issues, there is a need for a clarification. Hence this piece. But now since the urgency of the matter is lost, I took my time to formulate this reply leisurely, as the matter is now only of parochial interest. It has now become a credibility issue. 

In my comment I stated that Tyrell Goonatilleke was not the head of the CID at the time in question and that he did not lead a CID team to investigate the Jaffna Library Fire. Notwithstanding whatever arguments I adduced, EG asserts: “As for me I am absolutely certain that TG, whatever post he held in the CID or elsewhere, in fact headed, a team of investigators hand-picked by him from the CID, not for an investigation to arrest the suspects and obtain evidence for a prosecution but the limited purpose immediate damage control. With Jaffna Politicians (not the LTTE) pointing the finger at government politicians TG’s task was to find some evidence and take me into custody. “¦”¦”¦. This was not to be, as no police officer was prepared to implicate me even with promises of rewards and promotions.”

It would appear that he has changed and elaborated his original position that ” “¦..more than one team of investigators led by the best known investigators of the time Tyrell Goonatilleke and R. Sunderalingam investigated this case of arson. Tyrell Goonatilleke’s CID team in fact was in fact reporting to the President himself.”

The fact that all this was a fiction generated in his imagination is borne out in an e mail sent by R. Sunderalingam Rtd. S/DIG to Terry Amarasekera Rtd. DIG on this issue stating that ” there was no CID team investigating this case.” I believe we can proceed no further than that on this issue, since the other two protagonists in this drama Tyrell Gunatilleke and J.R Jayewardene are dead, unless of course EG could name the other members of this  alleged CID investigation team who are among those living, for verification.

Unfortunately he does not present any verifiable  corroborative evidence to support his “ƒ”¹…”certainty’ that JRJ would take the risk of sending a “ƒ”¹…”blood hound’ like Tyrell whom he had sent out of the CID after 35 years’ service there, in ignominy, to clear his stables for him as claimed by EG. I am sure only he will believe his own story!

In regard to his allegation on Tyrell “ƒ”¹…”fixing’ Vijaya Kumaratunga as a “ƒ”¹…”Naxalite’ to please JRJ, EG now condescends to change his position:   

“As regards the’ fixing’ of Vijaya Kumaratunga as a Naxalite, l am inclined to believe GG’s version that, in fact, “it was J.R. Jayewardene, who had Vijaya Kumaratunga arrested alleging that he (VK) was involved in a Naxalite like movement. But here EG shrewdly tries to divert the attention saying: “Surely to get VK arrested J.R.J. would have had reasonable evidence to convince TG. And it is highly unlikely that President JRJ would have made a false complaint”

That was not the point in issue!

Whatever EG’s speculation on Presidents Jayawardene’s motivation in his having had Vijaya Kumaratunge arrested is, he (EG) now admits that it was not correct for him to say that Tyrell  “ƒ”¹…”fixed’ VK as a “ƒ”¹…”Naxalite’ to please JRJ as alleged by him. Now that he has condescended to disbelieve himself, it behoves him to tender an apology to Tyrell’s family for making this false allegation against TG as did Prof. Carlo Fonseka in regard to Mr. Gamini Dissanayake’s family, at the launching of Edward’s book.

However EG now says: “But Vijaya Kumaratunga, “insisting that he would not sign the statement recorded by TG, unless he could not end the statement asserting that he appreciated the fair manner in which he was interrogated”, is indeed hilarious. Any officer who had worked in the CID will know that this is standard procedure, a defence mechanism against a witness going back on a statement on grounds of coercive threats or inducements”.

In response to this, I could only challenge EG to quote any CID investigation file that he knows of, carrying such a statement at the end of an interrogation of a witness/accused. As for me, after having served in the CID for seven years, I have never seen or known of any other such instance. I am also confident that all CID officers of the time will bear witness with me. We would consider it as a singular insult on the professionalism of all those CID officers.

EG’s next statement is as follows:   

Inasmuch as G.G. has personal knowledge of the fair and honourable manner in which VK was treated by TG I have personal knowledge of the other side of TG in a case where the stakes concerned personal professional esteem. Sixty years ago I was attached to the CID as a trainee ASP where TG was an Inspector of Police. Entrusted with the initial investigation of a murder where the first information was vague, within two days I with the assistance of the late R.C. Thavarajah (IP then) had made dramatic progress including the arrest of the suspect and the recovery of highly incriminatory productions. TG saying that I was too inexperienced to face the Supreme Court misappropriated all that I had done and claimed that for himself! The shocking impression that I got of the CID then as an institution of questionable integrity remained indelible throughout my police career. This was a landmark murder case in Sri Lanka’s annals of crime. I would certainly have liked my name inscribed in the records of this case as an investigator.

I believe Edward is referring here to the Anandagoda case, also known as the Adelene Witharana case where her dead body was traced to a tank bund somewhere in the Puttalam district in 1958. The CID solved this case, secured a conviction against her lover Mr. Anandagoda who was a school teacher at, as far I could recall, at Rahula College Katugastota. TG had told me that Mr. P.( Brute) Mahendran and Edward who were Probationary ASPs following their Divisional Training in the CID, were fortunate to participate in this fascinating investigation. He told me that on the successful conclusion of this case in courts he saw to it that both these Probationers were recommended for an IG’s commendation as the Senior Gazzetted  Officers were not entitled for monetary rewards. On seeing the allegation by EG I had this matter verified from the CID file ( C91/59/C14) which I knew was filed of Permanent Record in the record Room of the CID. I learnt there is an endorsement by TG therein to the effect that ” RA submitted h/w together with draft citations for the Gazetted Officers”. Hence EG’s claim that “I would certainly have liked my name inscribed in the records of this case as an investigator” was denied to him by Tyrell does not hold water. Any experienced Police investigator would know that action had been duly initiated to have the best possible accolade obtained for the young Probationers in this instance. If EG’s grouse is that he was not given an opportunity to give evidence in this case in courts, again, any CID officer who is worth his salt would agree that it is not sensible to expose a green horn perhaps by then with only 8 months in the police, to Supreme Courts in an important murder case, usually defended by formidable defence lawyers of that time was an unnecessary risk. This has to be traded against providing ego satisfaction to a young trainee in an important case in the Supreme Court. The tradition of the CID was to go for the organization goals than to satisfy personal glory of individuals.  I am certain with that investigational exposure in the CID may have enabled such a bright spark as EG to earn many more such commendations in his long and distinguished career. I do not know however whether there were any other instances where he displayed his investigational prowess which has gone on record.

Another matter EG has stated is that he worked in this case associated with the late IP Thavarajah (Later SSP). It is well known in the CID that Thava and Tyrell were diehard adversaries each being equally brilliant as the other. Thava would never have allowed Tyrell or for that matter anyone, to grab the good work of another and appropriate to himself for credit. Those who know Thavarajah well enough, will bear witness with me on this. He was such a relentless fighter.   

EG’s tirade on Tyrell who is not among the living continues as follows:                      

   “T.G. was more than a, “mere police officer.” Enjoying the slavish admiration of his subordinates and some colleagues he had established a reputation as a ruthless and unrelenting investigator who took a sadistic delight in agonizing suspects in his custody.

My position is that it is grossly incorrect to say that TG was enjoying “slavish admiration of his subordinates and some colleagues.” It is an insult to his subordinates and colleagues. For at that time, besides me he had under him personalities like A.S. Seneviratne, M.K.J. Perera, Bennett  Perera, H.Y.de Silva P.V. W de. Silva and S.B.W. de Silva, R. R. Kithulegoda and T. Kadiragamar, all competent investigators by their own right and mature policemen as SPs and ASPs, besides a formidable array of Inspectors. They staunchly held their own views on matters whilst respecting each other for their individual brilliance in their respective specialties. Thus, conferences of TG as Director CID were lively affairs and at times the heated exchanges of views among those formidable gladiators, was a treat. TG always promoted disagreeing views saying that he was only a Premus intepares and not the Ake homo. These discussions always helped him to make some perilous and daring decisions in those difficult times. “ƒ”¹…”Admiration’ there certainly was but it was often mutual. It was indeed a pleasure working with such a band of adventurers who enjoyed challenges.

At least on one occasion I recall that the bright young sergeant Bandara of the Record Room disagreed with Tyrell in open Instruction Class on some matter. Later he summoned him to his office and explained to the young sergeant in detail what his thinking was. The remarkable feature of the CID at that time was that the organizational goals of the CID was known down to the lowest ranker in the organization and everyone contributed towards this end. They were proud to be its members. This is why we describe this period as the Golden Era of the CID. It was indeed a dream CID. 

And to state that TG “took a sadistic delight in agonizing suspects in his custody” to say the least is libelous, apart from being irresponsible. When such a thing is brazenly said of a dead man it is only a reflection on the accuser.

In order to buttress his allegation above, EG states as follows:

“”¦”¦.I am personally aware how even the IGP of the time was discreetly dissuaded by TG from visiting a “ƒ”¹…”torture house’ on Paget Road off Brownrigg Road where even media reports exposed that suspects in exchange control frauds including Muthkar and Thaha were held incommunicado by the CID chained to their beds!

I am certain that GG would not have been aware of this. Had he known about this “ƒ”¹…”torture house’ he would not have remained in the CID. Or may be that he was not in the CID at that time. GG is too honourable a gentleman to be a party to barbaric behaviour.     

Now this is very interesting. Contrary to his 2nd paragraph giving me a “ƒ”¹…”clean report’ I was in fact the person in charge of that dreaded “Torture House “!

Since this alleged “Torture House” was my responsibility, I know for a certainty that EG never visited this place. Hence he could have no personal knowledge of what was going on there. He says that media had exposed that suspects held here were “chained to their beds” etc. I  know that no media personnel ever visited this place and could not have done so without my knowledge. Hence all what EG says on this subject has necessarily to be hearsay. And I believe, EG as a clever investigator that he was, knows the value of hearsay evidence.

On the contrary, since I have direct evidence of what I did there, let me reveal what I know of C61 Paget Road, Colombo 4. This is the house that became the official residence of Mr. Earnest Perera, the  then DIG Personnel & Training, after this place that held suspects of the CID was closed down after most of the inmates were convicted and jailed. After Mr. Perera, this place was good enough to become the Colombo Residence of President D.B. Wigetunge after his retirement. So much for suitability/unsuitability of this place as a “ƒ”¹…”Torture House’.

The suspects held here were allowed meals from their own houses. They were allowed a quota of liquor daily as recommended by the doctor. Some like Thaha and Farouk Sali, Flamer Caldera, Charles Vethacan, Rajah Ratnagopal and probably Bhagavandas Hirdramani had their quota of Whisky in the evening, besides newspapers and magazines of their choice, brought from their homes and also pocket radios, needless to say, there was no TV or mobile “ƒ”¹…”phones at that time. The suspects were visited once a week by a doctor and were taken to any other specialist as recommended by them, on their request. They had regular visits by their families. They exercised themselves in the lawn, morning and evening. I visited this place at least once in two days and unfailingly every Saturday mornings after horse riding at the Mounted Division. I visited the suspects in their rooms. I did not see that anyone of them “chained to their beds” neither did anyone of them complain to me of any harassment. Besides me, this place visited in the night by other Senior Gazetted officers on a roster. Quite apart from torture, I recall Mr. Thaha a genial man, had a never ending problem of big blisters on his back. He said he had no time to have that properly attended to owing to his tough daily work routine. This was attended to by regular medical attention while he was at Paget Road and after some time he completely recovered. So much for torture!

 Then when they finally gave evidence in the Criminal Justice Commission under oath none of them complained of their being held “ƒ”¹…”chained to beds’ in a “ƒ”¹…”Torture House’. Instead, like in the case of Vijaya Kumaratunge, Thaha complemented the CID in open court, on the way we handled the investigation in regard to him. Mrs. Sheila Sathanathan requested her appreciation of Mr. S.B.W. de Silva on the way she was questioned by him, be recorded in the case record. The final icing on the cake was that after these suspects were convicted and sentenced to Jail, they tried very hard through political influence to be allowed to continue in this “Torture House’ to spend their jail terms, which of course they failed. The important thing is that it was this “ƒ”¹…”villain’ TG whom EG alleges “took a sadistic delight in agonizing suspects in his custody” was the architect of this place of detention. Yes, by today’s standards all this is unbelievable. But this was how it was 25years ago! If I did not put this down it would have been lost to the posterity. This may be why the famous English novelist E M. Foster once said that “Truth is stranger than fiction”.

I would therefore say that EG owes another apology to TG’s family for making this libelous allegation. I am confident that every item of what I have said here will be corroborated by the CID officers who worked at or visited Paget Road, whoever is alive today. Besides the Officers’ Visiting Books maintained in this this place, if they are still preserved in the Record room of the CID will bear written testimony to all what I have stated here.

“. I am personally aware of the holy respect that top officials like Colonel Dharmapala, Menikdiwela and G.V.P. Samarasinghe had for TG even as far back as the late seventies. At that time as the Director Intelligence and member of the National Security Council I had the opportunity of associating closely with these officials. With these same officials as the President’s closest advisors, TG had no difficulty in outfoxing even the “ƒ”¹…”Old Fox’!”

Now that is EG’s next statement in support of allegation of “wiles and guiles” of TG. Here he adds further names of high level confidantes of JRJ saying that they too had a “ƒ”¹…”holy respect’ for this man. I would ask, given the qualities of the man (TG) described above, is it any surprise that such intelligent men that EG described developing a healthy respect towards him?  Now how would any intelligent person asses the merit of such a statement by a veteran Senior DIG!? Why is he grudging so much to give a colleague his due if what he says is true? Was he (TG) the real cause for the non-grant of EG’s extension of service? Perhaps he knows it best.

 “GG will not disagree with me when I say that the relations between the AG’s Department and the CID were such that TG was certainly to law officers of the state more than a “ƒ”¹…”mere police officer”.

Thankfully, this is the only statement of EG that I could agree with. Yes. Tyrell did enjoy the confidence of many AG’s Department officers for his knowledge of law and unique investigative ability, needless to say integrity. Tyrell treated as his mentor and guide the late Mr. Noel Tittwella the then Solicitor General and later Supreme Court Judge whom, incidentally, was left out of the Bench when JRJ named his new Supreme Court Judges under his new Constitution. Tyrell and Tittawella were also friends who had mutual respect for each other. Their not too infrequent witty banter was indeed a treat. I believe, many other senior officers of the AG’s Department of the time such as Ranjit Abesuriya,  late Kenneth Seneviratne, D.S. Wijesinghe and Sunil de Silva among others had a good regard for TG. In fact even great defence lawyers of the time such as S. Nadesan who cross examined TG for 27 days in the Presidential Commission of Inquiry had a love-hate relationship with him. But surely all these divergent people could not have been all people who had fallen for the “wiles and guiles” of Tyrell? Does it stand to reason? Isn’t EG insulting their intelligence? And again one is compelled to come back to the question what is it that motivates him (EG) to go out of his way at personal cost to his own prestige, to make such an irrational allegations against a man who is “ƒ”¹…”dead and gone’? Could it be envy? Or some other which he does not reveal?

Not only in the AG’s Department, TG was held in high esteem in the New Scotland Yard too. Jock Wilson the head of Scotland Yard at that time was his personal friend. As a result of this friendship CID was able to get Scotland Yard co-operation to conduct further investigations in the UK on our Exchange Control violations cases. Consequently a local CID unit stationed in London, was able to work with the Fraud Squad of the New Scotland Yard, at Holburn in Central London. This unit was active in London on a relay, till late 1977 when TG was thrown out courtesy JRJ.

Now that EG had the floodgates opened, I must mention that TG had marked a healthy presence in the Interpol too. He was the regular Sri Lanka representative at the annual Interpol conferences. He marked his presence there when he presented a proposal for International Co-operation in the investigation of Exchange Control offences. The gravamen of his resolution was that illegal transfer of money internationally served as the “ƒ”¹…”pipeline’ for international arms and drug smuggling. Money laundering was just emerging in the world at that time. The visionary that he was TG foresaw the need to have such laws in place to meet all these international crime taking place with the advent of terrorism, Urban and Guerilla, in the decades to follow. All this may be difficult to swallow, but these are the bitter facts. He was in fact chosen to share a plenary session of the Interpol conference, probably, in Teheran. I do not know of any other Sri Lankan Representative who had made a mark at the Interpol conferences. These may be too bitter to swallow, but facts are facts.                              

In reply to my suggestion that another police officer in his position would have exercised any one or all of 3 options viz. a) volunteer a statement to the investigating officers revealing what he knew or b) make a contemporaneous entry in the OVB of Jaffna Police or, c) sent a report to IG Police on his return from Jaffna, EG has given his reasons as to why he did not resort to the 1st option only. He ignores the 2nd option or both for reasons best known to himself.  But instead he has spoken of yet another option that he did not resort to, as follows:     

Yes Gamini, there is one other thing I could have done or should have done. At the risk of being thrown out I should have defied the Presidential order and avoided going to Jaffna in May 1981. Like what many of my junior colleagues did I too could have joined the election bandwagon of Mrs. Chandrika Kumaratunga in 1994, claimed “ƒ”¹…”political victimization’ and retired as the IGP with a massive packet of back wages too. I valued my honour more!

I am sure no one would think that what is mentioned by him here was a good option for particularly a senior officer. The discussion was on the fact that having gone there what he could have done, but did not.

And he goes on to say further that:

 Like what many of my junior colleagues did I too could have joined the election bandwagon of Mrs. Chandrika Kumaratunga in 1994, claimed “ƒ”¹…”political victimization’ and retired as the IGP with a massive packet of back wages too. I valued my honour more!

There was only one of his junior colleagues who would fall into this category, (who resigned refusing to do his turn in Jaffna and thereafter returned on the grounds of “ƒ”¹…”political victimization’ and later became IG over the heads of so many) which was indeed unfortunate for the Police Service as was seen by the consequences. The others who came back from unreasonable retirement as far as I know, had done their turn in the “ƒ”¹…”war zone’.

In conclusion I wish to state that it is my hope that this analysis would help my friend and colleague Edward to examine his own mind, enable him to identify the canker that generates this angst/aversion towards this dead person Tyrell Goonatilleke and would enable him to eliminate it from his mind and cleanse it, so that he does not carry it over to his next birth (though of course he is not a Buddhist) But being a Buddhist this is how I think. It will help him to shorten his sojourn in Samsara by that much.     

One Response to ““DANNO DANITH” ! REPLY TO EDWARD GUNAWARDENA’S REPLY ON JAFFNA LIBRARY FIRE”

  1. Kosala777 Says:

    The Britishers falsely accused Tyrall Goonatilleke for shoplifting in London, later it transpired Tamil separatists also had a hand in brining the false charges. The security guard who was involved was also later found to have shop lifted!

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