Assassination plots should be taken seriously
Posted on October 15th, 2018

By Sugeswara Senadhira Courtesy Ceylon Today

Any allegation of coup attempts or assassination plots cannot be taken lightly, as there were instances in post-independent Sri Lankan history that changed the destiny of the Nation and some important national leaders. Although there were palace coups after the sudden death of the first Prime Minister, D.S. Senanayake, in 1951, the first successful assassination coup was the one that took the life of the much-loved Prime Minister, S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike in 1959.

It was followed by the 1962 futile coup to overthrow the Government of Sirimavo Bandaranaike, in which many senior officers of the armed forces and Police were detained, and some were found guilty by the Courts, though they were discharged later by the Privy Council in UK, as Sri Lanka, then known as Ceylon, was a dominion of the Queen.

In light of these incidents, one cannot take the recently disclosed assassination plot, though with vague accusation, lightly. When the alleged plot to assassinate President Maithripala Sirisena and former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa was revealed by a Police informant, Namal Kumara at a press conference, many people were shocked, though some dismissed it as the work of a prankster. He charged that Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Nalaka de Silva was behind the assassination plot.

Surprisingly, Inspector General of Police (IGP) Pujith Jayasundara did not take this seriously and there were no moves initially to investigate the alleged plot. No wonder President Sirisena said the IGP should not act like a comedian. However, once the matter was brought before the Fort Magistrate Court, a travel ban was imposed on Namal Kumara and DIG Nalaka de Silva because of the ongoing investigation into the alleged assassination plot.

In a rare show of unity, Government and Joint Opposition MPs demanded in Parliament that DIG de Silva be arrested and investigated over his alleged involvement in the plot.

Government’s response

Leader of the Joint Opposition Dinesh Gunawardena, raising a matter under Standing Order 43/2 in Parliament demanded to know what action the Government would take against DIG de Silva. There is a serious allegation against a DIG regarding a conspiracy to assassinate the President and the former Defence Secretary, with the help of the underworld. There are audiotapes of the plot circulating in the media. The State Intelligence officers are dragging the investigations. The international community too was shocked to hear that law enforcement officers are working hand in glove with the underworld to plot political assassinations. This issue could lead to anarchy in the country. The President told the media that there would be an investigation. We want to know whether the Government will take action against the senior Police Officers in question,” Gunawardena said.

Law and Order Minister Ranjith Madduma Bandara said the CID had obtained the mobile phones of Namal Kumara and that DIG de Silva had been transferred to the Police Information Technology Division (ITD).

Namal Kumara, while addressing a press conference, alleged he had audiotapes of DIG de Silva conspiring to kill the President. The matter was reported to the Fort Magistrate. Court orders have been obtained to secure the video and audio records from media organisations, in the event Namal Kumara made those allegations. The CID has obtained the mobile phone Namal Kumara had used to record the alleged conversations. DIG Nalaka de Silva has been transferred from the TID to the ITD of the Police to facilitate investigations,” Madduma Bandara said.

This alleged plot became further intriguing, as it was also connected to last year’s communal clashes in the Kandy District. Vociferous opposition MP Wimal Weerawansa said, this issue raises many questions. This Namal Kumara has stated that there was a link between the Police and underworld in propagating crimes during the Sinhala-Muslim riots in Digana and Kandy. There are many other serious accusations. The DIG should be arrested. We cannot believe that these investigations will be impartial.”

Surprisingly, the day de Silva was transferred from the TID, he held a religious ceremony at Kelaniya Temple to seek blessings, and IGP Jayasundara attended the ceremony. This has created reasonable doubt, whether an impartial investigation could be expected. Jayasundara is a peculiar officer, known for eccentricities, dancing at Temple peraheras, and making fun of the Mahasangha. Soon after he became IGP, there was an incident where he was caught on camera taking instructions from a ‘sir’ not to arrest a Nilame.

MP Vasudeva Nanayakkara asserted in Parliament that, we cannot ensure an impartial investigation under the IGP. The IGP has taken DIG de Silva to the Kelaniya Temple for a bodhi pooja on behalf of the latter. It has been reported on media websites.”

The fact that at least two weapons of the Police TID have gone missing and they were authorized by DIG de Silva also has given credence to the assassination theory.

Rifts in Police

The incident brought to light some startling revelations about internal rifts in the Police. In his press conference in Kandy, anti-graft social activist Namal Kumara, Director of Operations of a social movement called Anti-Corruption Force, has disclosed the ongoing internal rift within the Police.

According to the audio records of the telephone conversations played during the press briefing, the activist was ordered by DIG de Silva to tarnish the reputation of certain highly-reputed Police officers.

IGP Jayasundara said an impartial and transparent investigation into the matter would be carried out. However, many observers feel that his close friendship with de Silva could be detrimental to an independent investigation.

There was also a complaint about DIG de Silva’s suitability for the post. Written complaints have been filed by DIGs Ranmal Kodithuwakku and Priyantha Weerasuriya and ASPs Nihal Thalduwa and Prasanna Alwis to the Police Commission, that there were questions with regard to the TID Director’s educational qualifications.

The whole incident must be thoroughly investigated, as it is a black mark on the Police and its impartiality.

Furthermore, the incident came to light at a time when the Police Chief has become a laughing stock due to his behaviour in public.

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