Samagi Janabalawegaya (SJB) MPs are under severe pressure from Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa to quit exposing links between the national security apparatus of the Sri Lankan Government and the Easter Sunday bombings that claimed 269 lives, Colombo Telegraph learns.
The revelations by the opposition, including the SJB and JVP, has caused serious discomfort to the Government, particularly President Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who was elected to office on a national security platform after the deadly Easter Sunday bombings shocked the country. In a steady drip-drip-drip, revelations by the opposition and senior law enforcement officials including the former chief of police, have reinforced a connection between the Sri Lankan military intelligence establishment and the terrorist cell that carried out the bombings in April 2019.
At Premadasa’s behest, the Opposition has now missed two scheduled meetings with the Catholic Bishop’s Conference to brief them about the more sensitive and explosive aspects of the Easter Sunday attacks investigations, local media reports indicated.
The first meeting scheduled for April 28, 2021, Premadasa said, had to be cancelled because he had a prior engagement. Premadasa demanded a second cancellation for a fresh appointment granted by the Catholic Bishops for May 5, 2021.
The reason the second time around was that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was visiting Parliament, and he wished to have his entire delegation of MPs present. President Rajapaksa’s meeting was routine at best, and not significant in any way.
SJB MPs Harin Fernando and Manusha Nanayakkara caused ripples with their explosive speeches in Parliament drawing a connection between the suicide bomber cell that killed Catholic worshippers on Easter Sunday 2019 and the intelligence services, based on intercepted communications obtained from mobile devices linked to the terror cell.
Soon after the revelations in the House, a delegation of SJB MPs led by Lakshman Kiriella met with Catholic leaders at the Center for Society and Religion in Maradana, to brief them about the more sensitive aspects of the Easter Sunday attacks investigation inter-alia, the statement made by a CID officer about intervention by the Directorate of Military Intelligence to release an intelligence officer from CID custody. The Military intelligence operative was taken from the CID before he was interrogated about his links to the terror cell. The CID discovered the link and arrested the Intelligence officer by analysing IP data from one of the bomber’s computers, the opposition has alleged.
At the meeting at CSR, which was subsequently treated to a visit from the CID, the opposition MPs requested a special meeting with the Catholic Bishop’s Conference to elaborate the points further.
But for reasons best known to the Opposition Leader, who has recently come under fire for his habit of fiddling while Rome burns, both the meetings were avoided.
Colombo Telegraph learns that Premadasa has also expressed grave concern about the continued exposures by his party members regarding the Easter attacks. It was attracting “unnecessary attention” from powerful sections of the Government and the security apparatus, he claimed. Harin Fernando’s last revelation referred to a code name used by the bombers, “Sonic-Sonic”. The code name was used by the bombers to allude to the person who now runs the entire intelligence operation under President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Fernando said, – a clear reference to Major General Suresh Sallay, Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s State Intelligence Services (SIS) Chief.
In fact, the SJB’s meeting scheduled with the Catholic Bishops for 5th May was eventually used by a senior Sri Lanka intelligence officer and a Government Minister to provide a “counter narrative” to the SJB’s claims.
Speculation is raging inside the main opposition party, about Premadasa’s motives. Premadasa’s recent appointment of Dayan Jayatillaka as foreign policy advisor has raised alarm, as has the opposition leader’s continued close association to Army Chief Shavendra Silva.
Jayatillake’s recent assertions that Premadasa stood against the abolition of the executive presidency and a unified opposition that could take on the Rajapaksa juggernaut, has sparked fears about the Sajith Premadasa trajectory, observers said. “Dayan J wants a government under Sajith Premadasa to be a slightly less racist, slightly less nationalistic Rajapaksa administration” one observer told Colombo Telegraph.
Speaking for Premadasa, in a series of articles the Opposition Leader is yet to disavow and probably never will, Jayatillake claimed that the SJB under Premadasa stands completely against the Yahapalanaya policies of democratic reform, broad political coalition building and engagement with the United Nations on human rights and reconciliation.
The opposition leader has continuously urged the US Government to remove the travel ban slapped on Gen. Shavendra Silva who is implicated in war crimes.
Premadasa’s decision to call for an “opposition ceasefire” even as the Government bungles on every front, made some commentators quip that the Opposition Leader was behaving as if the Government had been hamstrung by the opposition’s efforts to hold it accountable all these months.
As the Government’s mismanagement of the Covid-19 crisis has led to an increased fatality rate, the country is fast running out of medical facilities to care for patients infected with the disease, the airport remains open, inviting a host of new and deadly corona virus variants to enter the island, silence from the opposition will continue to give the government a free-hand to abuse power and endanger the citizenry, political analysts said.(By Janakie Mediwake)