By Lionel Bopage –
Contradicting this story of Kumar of being kidnapped, authorities in Sri Lanka and the then High Commissioner of Sri Lanka in Australia, Thisara Samarasinghe insisted that the security forces did neither arrest, abduct nor detain Kumar or Dimuthu. According to Samarasinghe, there was no secret police in Sri Lanka, and never had such abductions taken place! However, Kumar avowed that he was abducted by the Sri Lankan military intelligence, blindfolded, handcuffed, detained and subjected to physical and sexual torture. Kumar emphasised that he survived without being assassinated and was sent out of Sri Lanka due to the rapid international intervention, particularly by Australia over this incident. Rejecting Kumar’s claims, Samarasinghe added that Kumar walked into a police station in Colombo overnight and was due for deportation the following morning. Nonetheless, this fiction-like episode brought international spotlight on the issue of disappearances that had been taking place in Sri Lanka.
The Police spokesperson in Sri Lanka then, Superintendent of Police Ajith Rohana said that Kumar Gunaratnam had been brought to the Dematagoda area by an unknown gang in a van. Later Kumar had come to the Colombo Crimes Division(CCD) after which he was taken to the Katunayaka airport under police protection to be sent to Australia. According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (The ABC), the Sri Lankan foreign ministry had stated that Kumar’s abduction was a fabrication and he was thrown out of the country because he overstayed his visa for more than five months. At this ABC interview, Kumar said that he was a member of the JVP (People’s Liberation Front of Sri Lanka), but he was no longer a part of it. According to other sources the ABC interviewed, he had been a well-known member of the JVP in the late 1980s when the second JVP insurrection was launched.
The police, the security forces and the government denied any role in the abductions of Kumar and Dimuthu. Inspector General of Police claimed that the police had deployed several teams to investigate this incident. Foreign Minister G L Peiris issued a statement after Kumar’s release, saying the disappearances had occurred with the deliberate intention of causing embarrassment to the government and it was grossly unfair to point the finger at the state. However, it was a well-known secret that by then clandestine death squads were operating in collusion with the security forces, who had been carrying out a growing wave of disappearances, abductions and torture over the previous year. In the previous six months alone, at least 56 political activists and journalists had vanished. The death squads developed during the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), had been used to suppress political opposition to the regime.
With the report of abduction of Kumar and Dimuthu, a broad cross section of civil society including family members, party comrades, media personnel, varsity academics and human rights activists called for Kumar’s immediate release. His wife, sister and mother made moving appeals. Kumar’s mother’s emotional appeal touched the hearts of many and personified the anguish of all Sri Lankan mothers whose children were reported “missing”. This was another occasion, where international humanitarian intervention assisted in upholding the human rights of two political activists. A senior defence official had denied that Kumar and Dimuthu were held in custody, while Wimal Weerawansa of the National Freedom Front said that the dissidents were planning to cause political chaos in the country, and do whatever possible to undermine the incumbent government to facilitate external intervention in domestic politics.
After Kumar’s abduction was reported in the Australian media, the Australian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka reportedly requested a meeting with Sri Lanka’s defence secretary. Australian High Commissioner Ms. Robyn Mudie had been at the Katunayake Airport to personally ensure Kumar’s safe departure from Sri Lanka. Kumar was not “officially” deported and was technically eligible to return to Sri Lanka if he paid the fine for overstaying his visa. The Australian foreign affairs ministry later thanked the police and other agencies in Sri Lanka for facilitating the man’s departure. The Australian government made it a point not to make any criticism of the Sri Lankan regime, nor mention the rising tide of disappearances. The Australian Foreign Minister and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade had refused media requests to make any further comment on Kumar’s treatment. The real possibility behind this incident appears to have been that following high-profile international campaign and the Australian intervention, particularly of the Australian High Commissioner Robyn Mudie regarding Kumar’ abduction, his abductors dumped him on the roadside. Kumar had been fined for overstaying his visa, and then swiftly deported to Australia.
 I left the JVP in February 1984, though my decision to leave originated in mid-1983.
 Hughes, D. 2013. Violence, Torture and Memory in Sri Lanka: Life After Terror, 14-15, Routledge