The head of the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka is complaining that the Government has failed to investigate swirling allegations about an entity called “Sonic” and claims that one of the Easter Sunday bombers had been in touch with army officers shortly before the final explosion on April 21, 2019.
Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, a staunch backer of the Rajapaksa family came out swinging at his latest press briefing on Wednesday (2). He issued a strong condemnation of the failures of the present government, and even wondered out loud about whether the country was experiencing the effects of a curse.
Those who had swept to power pledging to protect the country were engaged in destroying it, the Head of the Catholic Church charged.
“Even nature seems to be turning against the rulers,” the Cardinal claimed.
Watch: The group that came to power to protect the country is destroying the country. Our hopes were dashed. Is this a curse? Nature is also angry with the rulers – Cardinal criticizes the government #Lka
Read more: https://t.co/UqANaFWppW
— NewsCenter.lk (@NewsCenterLk) June 2, 2021
The Cardinal continued to question speculation surrounding a grand conspiracy behind the Easter Sunday attacks at Wednesday’s briefing.
“The former Attorney General said there was a grand conspiracy but never specified what it was. There are certain elements in the Easter Sunday attacks which have not been investigated thoroughly,” he claimed in televised remarks.
He said insinuations that politicians were also involved in the bombing plot had never been investigated. “There were statements made at the Commission that were never investigated further,” the Cardinal charged.
Cardinal Ranjith claimed that the Dehiwala bomber Jameel who set off the final explosion had met an “army person” called Sonic.
It was former IGP Pujith Jayasundara who first revealed that the Dehiwala bomber had received a phone call from a military intelligence officer 45 minutes before he detonated himself. Strangely, the Easter Sunday Commission never investigated the matter further, or studied the Dehiwala bomber’s cellphone data records.
The Commission never investigated who had been in contact with the suicide bomber Jameel, the Cardinal charged.
Observers said the Cardinal would probably retract his remarks in 24 hours, after phone calls and appeals from powerful sections of the ruling administration.
On the eve of the anniversary of the Easter Sunday bombings this year, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith claimed the attacks were “politically driven” and had nothing to do with Islamic extremism, only to walk the remarks back the next day after they agitated the high echelons of the Gotabaya Rajapaksa Government.
The Cardinal exercises significant influence with his Catholic flock because of his persistent calls for justice for victims of the Easter blasts two years ago. The majority of those who were killed in the bombings were worshippers at Easter Sunday mass in churches in Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa.
His remarks in April this year provided a serious impetus to claims for many other quarters about a political conspiracy behind the Easter Sunday bombings involving the Sri Lankan state security and intelligence apparatus. The code name ‘Sonic-Sonic’ was first revealed by Harin Fernando in Parliament two months ago. The Code has been widely speculated to refer to the State Intelligence Chief and long-time Gotabaya Rajapaksa ally, Maj. Gen. Suresh Sallay.
The allegations sparked panic for the SIS chief and the hyper-securitized regime of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The weeks following Fernando’s disclosures, buttressed by similar revelations by JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake and SJB MP Manusha Nanayakkara and subsequently Cardinal Ranjith too, saw Sallay and other security officials rushing to meet with the Catholic bishops’ conference to vehemently deny the allegations and “set the record straight”.
At least one of these meetings was arranged for the SIS Chief by stealth by Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa, Colombo Telegraph learns. Premadasa, who summarily cancelled a previously scheduled meeting with the Catholic Bishops Conference, ensured the meeting slot would be filled by Maj. Gen. Sallay and his team. The meeting had been sought initially by SJB MPs who provided a briefing on revelations in the Easter Sunday Commission report to the Catholic Clergy in Colombo. At Premadasa’s behest, both appointments provided by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference were cancelled by the SJB. The Opposition Leader’s conduct has sparked concern about his allegiances and continuous desire to appease powerful sections of the Gotabaya Rajapaksa administration. Premadasa has also urged SJB MPs to “ease up” on the Easter Sunday. Fernando and Nanayakkara have denied these reports. However neither MP has brought the subject of the Easter attacks and intelligence involvement in the bombings since.
In an unprecedented move, the SIS Chief also “briefed” the Attorney General Dappula De Livera on the direction of the Easter Sunday attacks probe. The SIS has no role in the investigation. (By Nimal Ratnaweera)