Family members of the Indian national who has been arrested over an alleges assassination plot on President Maithripala Sirisena confirmed that he had been suffering from a mental illness since 1997.
The Indian High Commission too previously stated that the Indian national was not of sound mind. However, at last Cabinet meeting President Sirisena had reportedly stated that RAW, the Indian intelligence agency, had orchestrated the assassination plot.
“This is a fabricated case. My elder brother is a victim of political insecurity in Sri Lanka,” the 52-year-old brother of the man who has been identified by Sri Lankan authorities as M Thomas has told the Indian Express newspaper.
Thomas was arrested from the home of a self-styled Sri Lankan anti-corruption activist and a former employee of the Presidential Secretariat, Namal Kumara.
The brother said he wasn’t in regular contact with Thomas and that they last spoke a week before his arrest. “Thomas then said his life was in danger and that he was surrounded by enemies,” he said.
The brother told The Indian Express that Thomas, a B.Com graduate, who had exhibited “severe symptoms of mental illness” since an accident in 1997 in which he sustained a head injury, “needs treatment, not jail”.
He said that Thomas worked as an office assistant-cum-accountant for several years in the Mumbai office of the Airports Authority of India and used to live in Andheri. In 1992, he shifted to an AAI office in Kerala.
For reasons the brother said were unclear to him, the AAI gave his job to Thomas’s wife. The husband and wife have been divorced for several years and have a son.
The brother said he last saw Thomas in 2016, after nearly a decade. In 2007, the brother, who was then working in the Middle East, got him a job there, “but he quit after a few months”.
After that, he met Thomas only in 2016, when he showed up at his Mumbai house and lived there for a few months. “He had a property matter in the south. He owned a seven-room bungalow there and feared that his wife would take the property away. We travelled together to Kerala to clear his property tax,” the brother said.
Thomas, the brother said, disappeared soon after, and the next he heard from him was in the beginning of 2017 when he called to say he was in Sri Lanka. “He sounded happy. He asked me to come to Colombo,” said his younger brother, adding that he never asked him how he was supporting himself, where he lived or what he did.
In the months that followed, the two kept in touch through “missed calls”.
“I knew he had no money, so sometimes I would call him back when I got a missed call from him. When I spoke to him last, in the third week of September, he said he had a lot of enemies. I told him to come back or to report to the police or the Indian embassy there. As usual, our conversation ended abruptly,” the brother said.
The brother said he was in touch with Indian and Sri Lankan officials. “But I haven’t had a chance to speak to my brother yet. Indian officials were also not allowed to meet him.
They asked me to visit Colombo but I am unwell. I request them to take his illness into consideration and drop all false charges against him. If they cannot release him immediately, I hope they will make sure that he gets mental health treatment,” the brother said.
He said he had asked the Sri Lankan authorities to send a photograph of Thomas so that he can be sure that it is his brother they have arrested, as “his passport was stolen a few years ago, and he got a new one made only two years ago”.