Two high ranking suspects in the gruesome kidnapping for ransom racket run by the Sri Lanka are heavily involved in election activity in the Eastern Province and campaigning for the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna while being in active service, Colombo Telegraph learns.
Commander Sumith Ranasinghe and Commodore D.K.P Dassanayake, both officers who were based in Trincomalee during the time the abducted boys were being illegally detained in the Gun Side Prison and were arrested as main suspects in the abduction racket, have been active in the Eastern Province – specifically Trincomalee for “election work”, highly placed sources told Colombo Telegraph.
Engaging in political activity and election campaigning while in service is strictly prohibited under the country’s election laws.
Both officers are currently based in Colombo, but have set up “assignments” in Trincomalee for the explicit purpose of engaging in election work in the Eastern Province.
“Dassanayake and Ranasinghe know the area well,” highly placed sources told Colombo Telegraph. “They were stationed there for a very long time and they know Trincomalee in and out. They are working with their own teams on door to door campaigns, promising residents all kinds of business deals and money in exchange for a vote for the SLPP candidate, Gotabaya Rajapaksa,” the sources added.
Colombo Telegraph learns that the navy high command is not unaware of the duo’s activities in the East. “Even the commander of the Navy knows why Dassanayake and Ranasinghe wanted to go to the East at this time, leaving their station.”
The same two officers were heavily involved in campaigning for Mahinda Rajapaksa in the 2010 presidential election, the sources said.
Two police officer attached to the Kurunegala Police in 2010 recently won a fundamental rights case in the Supreme Court, after being transferred for intercepting a Sri Lanka Navy truck carrying defamatory material about the 2010 presidential challenger Sarath Fonseka who was contesting Mahinda Rajapaksa for the presidency. The incident occurred on January 23, 2010, three days before the January 26 2010 presidential election.
Sources told Colombo Telegraph that what was less known was that the truck was carrying election propaganda material headed for Trincomalee, where Dassanayake and Ranasinghe were heavily involved in the Rajapaksa campaign for re-election.
“They’re back to their old election time tricks”, official sources told Colombo Telegraph.
The Navy duo were using their old contact networks and Pillaiyan and Karuna’s teams to carry out door to door campaigns in Tamil villages, it is learnt.
While being suspects currently enlarged on bail, both Ranasinghe and Dassanayake have won immense leniency from the high command of the Sri Lanka Navy and President Maithripala Sirisena. Both officials were given promotions, even after their arrest, and Dassanayake has been given repeated service extensions to allow him to remain in active service. In recent weeks, President Sirisena has been mulling making Dassanayake Rear Admiral and possibly Commander of the Navy, Sinhala language newspaper reports said.
President Sirisena has shown an affinity towards high profile suspects in the Navy Abductions case. His Chief of Defence Staff Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne, is accused by the CID of having helped the ringleader of the Abduction racket Chandana Hettiarachchi alias Navy Sampath to evade law enforcement and allegedly escape the country. Wijeguneratne has also received repeated service extensions and continues to serve (while out on bail in connection with the abductions case) as the country’s highest ranking military officer.
On Twitter and Facebook, Dassanayake’s daughters are unabashed supporters of the Rajapaksa regime. Dassanayake was one of several suspects implicated in gruesome crimes to be in attendance at Namal Rajapaksa’s recent wedding ceremonies in September this year. IP His family posted pictures with the happy couple on social media after the event. IP Neomal Rangajeewa, one of the accused in the Welikada prison massacre trial now being heard before a High Court Trial at Bar, was also present and the Hambantota MP’s wedding ceremony, and also posted pictures from the event. (By Deepal Banadaranayake)