Six days into Gotabaya Rajapaksa‘s presidency, security provided to CID Inspector of Police Nishantha Silva was summarily removed, prompting security fears for the top detective handling some of the most high profile cases at the Department.
At the request of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, based on grave and credible threats to his life, last year the IGP had authorised 24 hour security for IP Silva. However with the ouster of CID Director SSP Shani Abeysekera this week, a new Director SSP Tilakaratne has taken over at the Department. IP Silva’s security was also immediately withdrawn, Colombo Telegraph learns.
Around the same time, Colombo Telegraph learns that security for former CID Director SSP Shani Abeysekera who was given a punishment transfer as PA to DIG of Galle, has also been withdrawn.
IP Nishantha Silva who functions as OIC of the Gang Robberies Branch at the CID, oversees some of the CID’s most sensitive investigations, including the assassination of Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge, the abduction and assault of journalist Keith Noyahr and the disappearance and suspected murder of journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda. IP Silva also handles the explosive navy abductions investigation, which has implicated high ranking navy officers including the current Chief of Defence Staff Admiral Ravindra Wijeguneratne and former Navy Commander Wasantha Karannagoda. Silva busted navy personnel who were running an abduction for ransom racket in 2008-2009. 11 Tamil youth were abducted and illegally detained at two navy bases and ultimately killed, Silva’s investigations revealed. Just before the presidential election, the Attorney General decided to request a trial at bar to hear the navy abductions case and indicted several navy officers in connection with the trial, including former Commander Wasantha Karannagoda. One of the main suspects in the abduction case is Commodore D.K.P. Dassanayake who is tipped to be President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Navy Commander.
Many of the cases handled by Silva have implicated military intelligence personnel in the grave crimes against journalists and others, making Silva and his former director SSP Abeysekera targets of the security establishment and Sinhala hardline monks.
His involvement in investigations particularly close to home for the former Defence Secretary who was elected president on November 16, has made IP Silva a target of the Rajapaksa regime even previously. During the October 2018 attempted coup, the National Security Council was especially convened for the sole purpose of expediting the transfer of IP Nishantha Silva out of the CID, according to testimony provided by former Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando, when he appeared before the Parliamentary Select Committee hearings into the Easter Sunday attacks. At the time the IGP was ordered to transfer Silva to Negombo on a service requirement. The transfer was reversed within 24 hours after a massive public outcry against the move and a stern warning from the National Police Commission that they would step in unless Silva was reinstated. The transfer was seen as being politically motivated in order to ensure the investigations Silva was leading would be stalled or sabotaged.