Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Special committee studies commission report on Millennium City incident [Lanka Truth 15th February 2004]

The IGP has appointed a special committee to study the punishments that should be meted out to those involved in the Millennium City Safe House incident who have been found guilty by a Presidential Commission.
As the Presidential Commission report indicated that the raid on this Army Safe House was carried out purely with political interest Kulasiri Udugampola, the police officer who conducted this raid has been sent on compulsory leave.
The special committee appointed with Asoka Wijethileke, SSP as its head has been asked to forward their report within three weeks. If this report confirms the findings of the Commission report all security personnel who were involved in the incident would lose their positions.

Kulasiri Udugampola on the mat! [Lanka Truth 29th January 2004]

The Supreme Court decided that the raid on the Millennium City safe house violated the fundamental rights of those army Intelligence Officers who were stationed there at the time.
ASP Kulasiri Udugampola with several others, on instructions of the UNP, raided this army safe house in year 2001 claiming that it was an illegal arsenal maintained to assassinate Premier Ranil Wickremasinghe and arrested those who were there.
The case was filed by five Army intelligence officers alleging that their fundamental rights were violated by being arrested even when they had stated that they were regular personnel of the Army and they were maintaining a legal intelligence unit of the Army.
Supreme Court Judge Ms. Shirani Bandaranayake stated that by arresting the members of the safe house maintained by the Army was done with a political interest and this action violated the fundamental rights of those officers.
Kulasiri Udugampola was ordered to pay from his own funds Rs.50,000/- and the government was ordered to pay Rs.7,50,000/- for each petitioner.
Army Commander has already taken disciplinary action against a Major General, two Colonels and a Major on this incident.

Ranil’s regime rots in rebels’ rut - By H. L. D. Mahindapala reporting from Melbourne, Australia.(April 23rd 2003 go2lanka.com)

According to the latest information, reported in the Sunday Leader, (April 20, 2003) the Tamil Tigers are insisting that their demands, raised in Hakone, Japan, be fulfilled before participating in the proposed seventh round of talks to be held in Thailand, between April 29 and May 2. Their refusal to participate in Thailand has nothing to do with SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). Thailand is free of it, according to Thai health authorities. But it has everything to do with the Tamil Tigers once again deciding to dictate terms to Ranil Wickremesinghe, this time on the pretext of “pending the resolution of contentious issues that have arisen subsequent to the talks in Hakone, Japan.” Threatening to pull out of the talks is the newest and the most effective weapon in the hands of the Tigers. The only other weapon in its history has been brutal violence. Ranil has surrendered to both. This confirms Ranil’s “impotence”, as stated by the Tamil Tigers in their press release of April 12. Ranil’s “impotence” is visible each time Prabhakaran violates with impunity the agreement he signed with Ranil promising to usher in peace in our time. Ranil cannot even threaten the withdrawal from talks, following the LTTE tactic, for fear of losing the confidence of the international community. Domestically too, he is powerless to use the LTTE tactic because his future in politics depends on keeping up appearances of a man in a hurry to produce peace – a feat that can be achieved only by surrendering to Prabhakaran. Simultaneously, he is aware that cannot afford to let the LTTE pull out of talks at this stage. That would be an admission of failure and his opponents back home would pounce on him saying: “We told you so!” So he has no option but to protect his back by crawling to the negotiating table, with G. L. Peiris crowing that the talks have not collapsed despite the serious violations of the Ranil-Prabhakaran agreement. So far Ranil has managed to prolong the jaw-jawing, without the talks advancing in any positive direction, by using two weak ploys: 1) ignoring all violations of the LTTE and 2) by surrendering to its demands when it comes to the crunch. G. L. Peiris, however, boasts that it is the “skill” of negotiators like himself that is keeping the talks going. Meanwhile, Bradman Weerakoon, in thanking the departing Norwegian Ambassador, Jon Westborg, advanced another reason when he said that the previous talks collapsed because there were no international mediators. According to him, both parties are held together by the presence and the participation of the international mediators. NGO pundits present yet another reason when they claim that the LTTE is reined in after September 11and cannot back off now. But the hard reality is that the LTTE is in the talks because it is winning the war which it could not win on the battlefield, thanks to their “impotent” patron Ranil. At no time before had they ever had “a willing coalition” (Ranil + Norwegians) to pull their chestnuts out of the fire. Though they criticize Ranil’s “impotence”, they know that his “impotence” has great benefits to them. They know that Ranil is dependent on them for his future and he could be made to dance to their drum beat. It is a symbiotic relationship in which the LTTE will continue to suck the blood out of Ranil until he has no life left in him. Ranil’s two weak ploys (mentioned above) were on display for all to see in some of the major incidents that threatened the nation’s security and sovereignty. Take, for instance, the shocking tactics of Ranil’s regime in surrendering to the LTTE demand to disband the elite LRRP (Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol), soon after he invited the Tigers for peace talks early last year. Sinha Ratnatunga, the Editor of the Sunday Times, in his report to the Gulf News (18.4.2003), wrote: “The deep penetration unit (LRRP) were members of the Sri Lankan army supported by members of rival groups of the LTTE. They carried out a series of successful operations against guerrillas before the peace talks began. Soon after Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe invited the guerrillas for peace talks early last year, the unit was disbanded in the most controversial manner. Police led a raid on the apartment where the unit was based in the outskirts of the capital. The army officer concerned was detained by the police and later released. Some of the informants who worked with this unit have been later gunned down both in the eastern province and in the capital. The latest victim was from the eastern province two weeks ago.” If Prabhakaran fears anyone it is the LRRP. They were that close to decimating the leadership of the LTTE when Ranil pulled them out and exposed them as vulnerable targets to the LTTE. Prabhakaran is still paranoid about the LRRP. Last week Anton Balasingham was crying foul saying that the LRRP is roaming the wilds of Wanni to target his dearly beloved fascist leader. To assure Prabhakaran’s safety, in return for his safety from the Tiger suicide bombers, Ranil’s first major move after becoming prime minister was to offer (in the manner described by Sinha Ratnatunga) the severed heads of the LRRP as sacrificial pooja to appease the fascist killer – the man whom Ranil fears most, knowing the fate of the previous UNP leaders who fought Tiger terrorism tooth and nail. This naked surrendering to Prabhakaran, exposing Ranil’s “impotence”, is packaged and marketed as “confidence-building”. But in return for this “confidence-building measure” what has Ranil’s regime got from the LTTE so far? Sweet “llareggub”, isn’t it? (It’s a word coined by the poet Dylan Thomas and it is meant to be read backwards). Consider also the instance where the LTTE was caught red-handed smuggling arms in the seas off Delft, just at the time the talks were going on Berlin. The self-proclaimed “skill” of negotiator G. L. Peiris was to sit with Anton Balasingham (he is the only person who calls Balasingham “Dr” now) and to concoct a communiqué blaming “a lapse in communication” as the cause of the disaster in Delft. The objective was to appease the LTTE by diverting attention away from the smuggling arms in violation of the Ranil-Prabhakaran agreement and to blame the faulty communication lines – and Peiris seriously expects the public to believe it! He thinks he is smart. But his smartness is as good as all the failed propagandists of disintegrating regimes. Peiris is doing himself and his reputation a great disservice when he tries to imitate the stunts of Goebbels. Consider also the consent granted to install a radio station in the Wanni. It was done by violating every law in the book. A foreign agent (Norway) smuggled it in without paying duties. The Peace Secretariat, headed by Bradman Weerakoon, aided and abetted in the smuggling of a powerful weapon that is used to spread racist hatred, violence and fascist terrorism. This must be Bradman’s idea of international community helping to “build confidence” – a euphemism for surrendering to the demands of the LTTE. Furthermore, the reports of the University Teachers for Human Rights, Jaffna, (UTHR - J) have pin-pointed the fallacies of Ranil’s regime abdicating its moral, legal and constitutional rights in the deluded belief that a fascist regime of terror can ensure a lasting peace for the war-weary people of Sri Lanka. It is generally agreed by all political analysts that such a peace will be as durable as Ranil’s tottering regime. Now, apart from UTHR, there is a chorus of voices rising even from the ranks of the pro-Ranil NGOs, questioning the validity and the effectiveness of Ranil’s regime turning a blind eye to abductions, extortions, killings of LTTE opponents, smuggling of arms, recruiting children, illegal taxes, postponing the core issues at talks etc. The tragedy is that, in the name of “confidence-building”, Ranil’s regime has deliberately undermined and weakened the constitutional, the legal, the administrative and military structures, along with the territorial integrity and sovereignty, without getting a substantial return. Against all odds, he is going round chanting the mantra that the international community is behind him. But if he has such powerful friends abroad, how come he is forced to surrender each time the LTTE presses its demands? How come the ground realities have not changed in any meaningful way to convince the nation that he has a chance of bringing peace? How come each move made by the LTTE has flattened him to the ground and reduced his image to that of a born loser? Certainly, having Bush and Blair on his side is all well and good. But how many votes have Bush and Blair in his electorate? (Mahindapala is a former Editor in Chief of Colombo’s Sunday Observer and a senior journalist of the country who was very close to the former UNP leaders the late Dudley Senanayaka and the late R.Premadasa)

De-politicise the Army and Police - (D. Jayawickrarna) Commissioner

The Presidential Commission to inquire into and report on the raid on an Army Safe House at Millennium City, Athurugiriya had said that ASP Kulasiri Udugampola had sinister motives to raid the place. Mr. D. Jayawickrama (Commissioner) retired Judge of the Court of Appeal was the Commissioner while S. M. .J Senaratne was the Secretary to the Commission
CHAPTER V ConclusionThe saga of the Army's Athurugiriya Safe House began not with the raid itself, but nearly two months prior to that. On 10 th November 2001, the United National party by its letter signed by its Chairman, Charitha Rat watte and Vice-Chairman, Daya Pelpola, complained to the Army Commander, Lt. Gen. .Balagalle, about the use of thermobaric explosives brought from the operational areas in the North to the Panaluwa Army Testing Range and that certain persons alleged to be attached to a Northern Tamil political party were being trained in its use by the Directorate of the Military Intelligence in an attempt se them on the meetings held by the United National Party leadership and the leader's campaign bus. The United National Party Chairman warned the Army Commander that they will hold him responsible in the event of any such unfortunate incident. Charitha Ratwatte in his evidence stated that the information in respect of the contents of the above letter was divulged by late Gamini Athukorale, Deputy leader of the United National Party. Unfortunately as dead men cannot speak the commission had no way of verifying the truth of this statement.
Army Commander in reply to the above letter of the Chairman of the United National Party on the same day assured that there is no substance in the information set out in the above letter. Charitha Ratwatte stated that he satisfied with the reply of the Army Commander. was December General Election, and also just a few days before the raid :through Major M.B. de S. Jayatillake , RSP MIC -GSO I DMI, and Corp. M.P. Anura Pieris, MP A MIC. The evidence of these officers themselves proves this fact. Knowing Capt. Nilam very well there was no necessity for Col. D.P. Dissanayake to find out the address and the whereabouts of Nilam through his junior officers. If he wanted he could have directly contacted Capt. Nilam and got whatever information he wanted. Col. Dissanayake's explanation was that he wanted to contact Capt. Nilam to get his assistance in respect of the house Col. Dissanayake was building at Malabe. The evidence before this Commission further discloses the fact that Lt. Col. Padmasiri Udugampola, SLCMP , brother of ASP Kulasiri Udugampola, Major General Ivan Dassanayake and Colonel K. H. N. S. S. Dharmaratna, Major A.C. A. de Soysa, SLCMP , Major A.S.P . Podiralahamy, SLCMP, Major K.U. Jayanetti, SLCMP, Major B.M.A.N.S.K. Karunaratne, MIC, Corp, J.H.A.P. de Silva, JHAT- MIC, Corp. M.P.A. Pieris, JHAT-MIC, were all aware of the impending raid and have directly and indirectly assisted ASP Kulasiri Udugampola in raiding this Safe House. If these officers had any doubts about the Safe House they should have brought it to the notice of the Army Commander and moved the Military Police to investigate. But these officers, without doing so, have conspired with Kulasiri Udugampola to raid this Safe House for their own personal 155 satisfied with the reply of the Anny Commander. If it was so, the matter should have ended then and there, but it did not. After the Election results of 5th December 2001, the United National Front came into power and within a month the Athurugiriya Safe House was raided by ASP Kulasiri Udugampola from the Kandy Kennels Division under the guise of looking for suspects in the Udathalawinna murder case causing the greatest damage to LRRP operations of the Anny which were extremely successful in countering and arresting terrorism. ASP Udugampola in his evidence admitted that one of the reasons. for the raid on the Athurugiriya Safe House was a complaint made by Charitha Ratwatte, the then Chairman of the United National Party, to the Anny Commander which appeared in the media. It is very unfortunate that the new Government could not prevent or control the actions of ASP Udugampola, although the then Chairman of the United National Party was satisfied with the assurance given by the Anny Commander before the Election. ASP Kulasiri Udugampola proceeded with his illegal raid and investigations disregarding the orders of his own Inspector General of Police and senior Police Officers and even the advice of the Hon. Attorney General. This failed attempt was reminiscent of the arrest of Major General Richard Udugama the then Anny Commander just after the 1965 General Election on a charge of conspiring to overthrow the then government. It seems that some disgruntled officers in the Directorate of Military Intelligence backed by some high ranking officers who were behind the United National Front 156 election campaign have instigated this raid. In Sri Lanka during a general election, which ultimately leads to a change of government, the involvement of retired Army, Police and other Service officers in campaigning for rival parties is , . now common place. These persons after the elections mount pressure on the newly elected leadership of the winning party to settle scores with their former colleagues or superiors over past rivalries while they were in service. This was all too common as stated in his evidence by veteran journalist, Iqbal Athas. The United Front Government's continued silence, in the wake of the obvious embarrassment, made matters worse in the case of the Athurugiriya Safe House fiaSco. Even the belated action of the Minister of Defence in refusing to issue Detention Orders on the arrested Army personnel could not rectify the damage already caused to the Army's successful covert operations. As reported in "The Sunday Times" of 27th January 2002, the Hon. Minister of Defence himself has observed that the Police raid on the Army's Safe House at Athurugiriya was ill conceived and harsh treatment meted out to the officers and men was very bad. In view of the facts stated above, it is time that the Government takes stock and realizes that in order to establish an Intelligence Service that will serve as the corner stone towards integrity and stability for the security of this nation political interference should be prevented. In fact the Minister of Interior, John Amaratunga himself accepted the fact that it is improper and unethical for a Minister to interfere in police investigations.
But Amaratunga himself has :0. 157 , . violated this principle and sent his own Private Secretary to assist ASP Udugarnpola in respect of the raid on the Safe House and to give wide publicity to , this raid. If the existing situation in the Security Forces and the Police are allowed to deteriorate, particularly due to no action of any sort being taken by the Government, the country's security establishment will be in grave danger. Due to this situation it would create more chaos in an already confused situation where there is very little cohesive command and control from the apex. It is the duty of the Government to prevent ill conceived Police actions as it happened in the raid on the Safe House at Athurugiriya. The Government should take remedial action and punish those responsible for the great betrayal to inspire confidence in the Army and the public at large; It is an urgent necessity to de-politicize the Army and the Police and place them in the hands of capable young men which would infuse professionalism and prepare the men for battle whenever the government wants one. To neglect this aspect would be suicidal to the security and safety of this nation.

PTA arrests expose covert operation - paper [TamilNet, January 08, 2002 00:49 GMT]

The arrest last week of members of an elite commando unit of the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) on suspicion they were planning to assassinate the Prime Minister has blown the cover of an important covert operation to assassinate senior members of the Liberation Tigers, the Sunday Time reported this week. The arrests of members of a Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) group came despite efforts by the SLA high command to prevent the raid on the soldiers’ safe house, the paper said.
Five SLA soldiers, including a captain, and a Tamil informant alleged to be a former cadre of the LTTE, along with a large quantity of weapons were taken into custody from a safe house in Athurugirya rented by the military. Along with small arms, anti-tank weapons and several claymore mines, sixty-six new LTTE uniforms were also found at the house, the paper said.
The soldiers are being detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and interrogated at a secret location in Kandy. They are all said to be held in a single room located close to an unhygienic toilet, the paper said.
Sri Lanka’ Interior Minister, John Amaratunga, justified the raid by a combined team of civil and military police and said that initial details pointed to a plan by soldiers, loyal to former deputy defence minister Gen. Anuruddha Ratwatte, to assassination Mr Wickremesinghe.
The United National Party (UNP) alleges that thermo-baric weapons had been brought from the operational areas in the North to the Panaluwa Army Testing Range and that cadres attached to a Northern Tamil Political Party were being trained in their use. The training, the UNP alleged, was being co-ordinated by the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) together with Army instructors specially flown from the north with the intention of using these weapons on the meetings held by the UNP leadership and their leader's campaign bus.
The Sunday Times learnt that men who were trained at Panaluwa were those engaged in the LRRP operations based at the Athurugirya safe house. However, the newspaper accused a group within the DMI of being responsible for instigating the raid on the location for political gain. The paper also said that SLA chief Lt. Gen. Balagalle telephoned Police Chief Lucky Kodituwakku to call off the raid, but was unsuccessful.
The Sunday Times revealed that the SLA unit had carried out its operations from the safe house in Athrugiriya, penetrating deep within LTTE held territory. Their area of activity was the Batticaloa district. They were assisted in crossing the lines by the Special Task Force (STF), the counter-insurgency arm of the police, the Sunday Times said.
The Liberation Tigers’ political leader, Mr. S.P Thamil Chelvan was the target of two failed assassination attempts by SLA deep penetration teams, one of which was while he was en route to meet a Norwegian peace delegation for talks.
LRRP teams are also responsible for the assassination of Lt Col. Nizam (Thambirasa Kuhasanthan) the LTTE Military Intelligence Wing leader for the East, reported the Sunday Times. The killing of Col. Shankar, a close confidante of LTTE leader, Vellupillai Pirapaharan, was another high profile assassination attributed to LRRP units.
The deep penetration teams are also accused of the murder and abduction of Tamil civilians in LTTE controlled areas. On 22 May 2001, four civilians were shot dead by a SLA deep penetration team north of Batticaloa. On 2 April 2001 five civilians were abducted by a SLA deep penetration team in the same area. Later on 25 April nine civilians, including three women who were farming activities were also abducted in Kaaverikulam. In May last year, one civilian was killed and three were reported missing in an attack by a Sri Lanka army Deep Penetration team near Mathurankerni Kulam.
The Sunday Times newspaper said the LRRP teams work with ex-LTTE cadres. In the past, some of these cadres have turned out to be infiltrators. A trooper of a Sri Lanka army deep penetration group was killed by another member of the unit in August last year, who then escaped into LTTE held territory. Three senior operatives of the unit conducting deep penetration raids in the Batticaloa district were killed in a suicide bomb attack in the heart of Batticaloa town on 15 November.
The LRRP unit members have been hailed as national heroes by the SLA, which has expressed dismay at their arrest and subsequent treatment in the hands of the police. “These soldiers had in the past risked their lives for the sake of safeguarding the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the motherland,” the Sri Lanka Army said in an official statement.
The Lanka Academic online newspaper reported that morale in SLA had been hit hard by the arrests. "The morale of the army is very low after this incident. It is sad the way these people are treated and it is definitely a victory for the LTTE," the Lanka Academic quoted on one officer as saying. "Why are the people keeping quiet when we are treated like this?" asked another. "The situation should have been handled in a more matured manner," a high-ranking Army source told the Lanka Academic.
The Sunday Times’ respected defence columnist, Iqbal Athas, echoed the SLA’s sentiment. “All of them [LRRP troopers] are in one room and have to tolerate the ignominy of a stinking toilet whilst they answer questions from their interrogators,” he protested.

LTTE shoots dead 11th intelligence operative in Dehiwela - by Kalinga Weerakkody

The number of army intelligence unit members gunned down by the LTTE during the past year reached 11 with the latest murder on Saturday in Dehiwala, Directorate of Military Intelligence sources said.
Military intelligence sources asserted that more than 20 intelligence operatives also had been killed by the LTTE in various parts of the country so far after the signing of the ceasefire agreement between the government and the LTTE.
Police sources said that two armed LTTE cadres had opened fire at the Tamil soldier attached to the Directorate of Military Intelligence, Lingaswami Devarasa alias Ashok (32) on Saturday night at Pepiliyana, Dehiwala and had fled the area in a three-wheeler. They had used 9 mm pistols to fire at point blank range at the victim’s chest six times.
The victim had succumbed to his injuries on admission to the Kalubowila Hospital.
Sources said that the victim a resident of Thirukkovil in Ampara and father of an infant, had been living in Dehiwala for the past five months under the special protection of the security forces.
Many government informants had been forced to abandon their native places owing to constant LTTE threats and most of them had sought shelter in Colombo and the suburbs under special security protection.
LTTE intelligence leader Pottu Amman had ordered his members to speed up the process of eliminating most wanted officers in the security forces who are attached to the Directorate of Military Intelligence in the north and east, including Jaffna, Vavuniya, Mannar, Batticoloa and Colombo.
One of the groups which had been entrusted with this task had been identified as the pistol gang of LTTE’s Sivakumar in Batticaloa, sources said.
The LTTE had deployed another group to gather information about Tamils who are working in the collusion with the police and the Directorate of Military Intelligence.
Intelligence sources said that this move had stifled work of the government intelligence machinery and many informants were now reluctant to provide information.
Sources said that LTTE members who had penetrated Colombo were stationed at communication centres, salons, boutiques and tuition classes.
Reports in the media recently said that more than 60 LTTE intelligence members had penetrated Colombo were denied by the Defence Ministry.

'Tigers blame long arm of the government - Sri Lanka Monitor

LTTE negotiator Anton Balasingham claimed in a speech on 7 April in Geneva that the Sri Lankan government’s Long-Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) had infiltrated the Tiger-controlled areas of the northern Vanni region.
Mr Balasingham says that a claymore remote-controlled mine was recently found on a road on which LTTE leader V Prabhakaran was scheduled to travel. A search operation was ordered and thousands of Tigers combed the jungles of Vanni to apprehend LRRP members.
The LRRP is part of the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI), directed from a secret location in Athurugiriya. According to Colombo newspaper Sunday Times, this safehouse was raided on 2 January by Kandy police, who found weapons and arrested six soldiers. Unauthorized operations were alleged, and police filed a case against Army chief Lionel Balagalle and Director of DMI Kapila Hendavithana. A Commission headed by former High Court judge Dharmasiri Jayawickrema is probing DMI operations conducted from the safehouse in Athurugiriya.
The LTTE claim that the LRRP is trained by foreign intelligence services and responsible for the killing of LTTE leaders, Col. Shanker, Col. Nisam and Lt. Col. Gangai Amaran. They say others such as Col. Balraj, Col. Jeyam and political leader SP Thamilchelvan have also been targeted. The Army have denied LRRP operations in the north-east, but say that LTTE hit squads have penetrated the capital Colombo.
Sources allege that Tiger intelligence chief Pottu Amman has issued an order for the elimination of all members of the LRRP and other informants. According to press reports, at least 20 military intelligence operatives have been murdered since the ceasefire in February 2002. Former LTTE member Lingasamy Devarasa, was shot on 26 April by two people who arrived in an autorickshaw. He later died in hospital. The incident took place at Kohuwela in Colombo. Mr Devarasa had helped in LRRP operations in Batticaloa District.
Another LRRP operative and former member of Tamil group PLOTE, K R Ragupathy was killed in Mt Lavinia on 18 March. The security forces have introduced new security measures in Colombo, including checkpoints to track down the Tiger hit squads. Observers believe that the Tigers may have informants within the military and warned that there will be more deaths.

'Chanuka visited safe house' - [ CDN ] [ 21:26 GMT, Jan. 4, 2002 ] - by: Jayantha Sri Nissanka

Former Deputy Minister Defence Anuruddha Ratwatte's son Chanuka had allegedly visited the military intelligence Millennium City safe house during election time, where a large haul of arms was recovered by Police, a senior police officer probing the case told the Daily News yesterday.
"If this is a Military intelligence safe house what had Chanuka Ratwatte got to do there ? My informant told me that there is a private armoury at the Athurugiriya Millennium City and he told me that Chanuka had visited this place several times before the election," he said.
The UNP revealed during the election period that there was a conspiracy to attack the UNP propaganda bus and assassinate leader Ranil Wickremesinghe with the knowledge of Military intelligence officers. When the UNP wrote to Army Commander Lionel Balagalle, he denied that the Army was planing to kill the UNP leader,
Police also recovered three claymore mines placed in a culvert in a Panvila to kill UNP MP Keheliya Rambukwella. However, he escaped after recovering these three mines. Police also suspect that these three claymore mines have released from this Private armoury, the Police officer said.
Police recovered 17 items from this house including 66 LTTE camouflage kits, a cyanide capsule, six large claymore mines, 10 anti-tank mines, eight small claymore mines, four light anti-tank rocket launchers, 20 fuses used for claymore mines, 17 detonators, two T 56 weapons, 12 magazines and 418 rounds of ammunition, protective plastic eye covers, nine wire rolls, three remote control antennas, etc.
"It is understandable if the Army keeps such armouries in places like Vavuniya, Batticaloa, Jaffna, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, etc. But why did the Army keep landmines, anti-tank rocket launchers, cyanide capsules, LTTE camouflage kits in a place like Colombo," he questioned. Police are investigating whether these Military officers were involved in the Udatalawinna massacre.
A news release from the Defence Ministry said the Police and the Army have already commenced a through investigation in to the incident. The Ministry has decided to take suitable follow up action based on the evidence that would emerge during the investigation and take appropriate action against those responsible. Therefore, the Ministry requests all parties concerned not to panic or to arrive at conclusions. A complete statement will be issued by the Ministry on completion of these investigations, the release concluded.

Protecting informants: The Government's bounden duty - By Champika Liyanaarachchi

This came at a time when there was growing disillusionment within the military ranks and the country at large over the government's stoic silence following the killings of military informants

The Police Chief of the LTTE P. Nadesen in an interview with a weekend English newspaper a few months ago said that one of the prime duties assigned to him by the LTTE leader was to identify the informants who helped the Sri Lanka Army's deep penetration unit or the Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP).
LTTE Supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran no doubt must be quite satisfied with the performance of his police chief in this regard given the meticulous manner in which Tiger cadres are executing the job true to LTTE style.
While the LTTE was busy collecting information about military informants and systematically executing them at regular intervals, it took sixteen months for the UNF government to awaken from its slumber and demand a report from the Defence top brass on the subject.
So far nearly twenty odd informants have been executed by the LTTE in Colombo and the North and East. It all began after the Kandy Police made a blunder by revealing the closely guarded military secret - the presence of the LRRP, while hunting down the murderers of the Palletalawinna massacre.
Once the identities of Tamil and Muslim informants were known to the police and the LTTE, a chain of murders of persons collaborating with the Army was the result. The Attorney General recently directed the IGP to withdraw the case filed by ASP Kulasiri Udugampola against the Army Commander, Director Military Intelligence, another officer and four soldiers of the LRRP, saying there wasn't a "trickle of evidence" to show that the LRRP were engaged in criminal activities.
The UNF government in its zest and zeal to expose political rivals initially took the side of the police and later realized the mistake too late though.
The government finally decided to act after last Saturday's murder of Thirty-two year old Lingasami Devarasa, from Kokkadicholai who was gunned down in Dehiwala where he has been living for the past few months.
This came at a time when there was growing disillusionment within the military ranks and the country at large over the government's stoic silence following the killings of military informants.
One thing that is certain is that without 'inside' help and a steady flow of information, the LTTE would not have been so successful in its hunting down informants.
A former Army Commander who said the military was fully aware of the names of those passing on information to the LTTE added that he sincerely wished that the government would not further delay taking action against these people.
Given the hard work by army officers to establish the necessary military intelligence network for the successful Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) popularly known as the deep penetration commando unit of the Sri Lanka Army he said, the government's failure to crack down the LTTE pistol gang in Colombo comes as a major disappointment. The LRRP that claimed several victims was poised to get many LTTE top rungers by the time the ceasefire agreement was signed.
The government, he added, cannot afford to keep quiet about these killings as informants became really vulnerable following the leaking of information about the LRRP ammunition dump in Athurugiriya, a few days after the UNF came into office.
Just three months before this glaring blunder, September 26, 2001 thanks to the regular flow of information about the LTTE leaders, the LRRP killed Vaithilingam Sornalingam alias Col. Shakar, the head of Tiger military intelligence wing and founder commander of the LTTE Sea Tiger division, Air Craft and Air Wing division.
He was killed by triggering a claymore mine while travelling from Oddusudan to Puthukkudiyiruppu in a pick up vehicle.
Months before that, LRRP managed to kill Deputy Chief of Sea Tigers Gangai Amaran, Political Head of Batticaloa and Ampara, Nizam and Communication Chief of Eastern Tigers Mano by similar explosions.
The LTTE Political Wing Chief S.P.Thamilselvan, Deputy Military Wing Chief Balraj and Senior Commander Jeyam too came under attack by the deep penetration unit but escaped unscathed.
Thamilselvan had a narrow shave when a vehicle right in front of him was blown up by a claymore mine.
The man who led the LRRP team Captain Nilam, who would have otherwise been a war hero, it is learnt, is now in hiding as he is definitely number one in the hit list.
With the informants being regularly eliminated, there is also a growing fear among the retired servicemen whether they too would be targeted given the virulent and vindictive nature of the rebels.
At the rate the Tigers are gunning down informants, the former Army Commander said, that several retired flag ranking officers have expressed legitimate fears.
Nothing can be totally ruled out, he said, now that the LTTE is having a field day especially in Colombo and one should not be surprised if a retired military top brass suddenly dies "under mysterious circumstances".
The elimination of informants have also re-kindled the debate as to whether the government made a blunder by agreeing to de-commission weapons of other military groups like the EPDP, PLOTE and EPRLF operating in the North and the East.
Most of these paramilitary cadres functioned as informants of the government troops and the disarmament of them under clause 1.8 of the ceasefire agreement, saw the LTTE stepping up its onslaught on these unarmed militant cadres.
One may argue that that disarmament of these cadres has helped streamline things and clear the ground as the government then have to deal with only one group- the LTTE that has the backing of an overwhelming majority of Tamil civilians.
However, others maintain irrespective of the political clout of these groups, they should be allowed to carry weapons as the LTTE has been given a chance to do so.
This is more so because a majority of them lately carried arms for self-defence rather than for combat purposes. The move to disarm them before decommissioning the LTTE was questionable.
Of all the militant groups, the EPDP is the most vulnerable being the strongest rival of the LTTE. Even the so-called champions of human rights based in Colombo are quiet about the regular killing of EPDP members including local level politicians.
Soliciting the services of paramilitary forces as military informants has been on since the beginning of the conflict and it was formerly recognized following the occupation of the Indian Peace Keeping Forces (IPKF).
The EPRLF, which later held power in the North-East Provincial Council, was the first military group to co-operate extensively with the IPKF and it is no secret that those employed were amply rewarded by the Indian government for their services.
One of the first moves by the LTTE which regained control after the withdrawal of the IPKF obviously was to launch a major offensive on the other militant groups.
Since then these groups had to go through immense hardships for their survival and the Southern government more often than not used them to break the LTTE hegemony especially in the North.
However, it must be said that Tamil militant groups or individuals were not the only ones to be tagged by the LTTE as military informants.
Muslims, though majority of them remained impartial during the war, had to bear the brunt of LTTE harassment being designated by the latter as government informants.
One should not forget that the eviction of over 70,000 Muslims from Jaffna in 1990 by an LTTE decree giving them just 24 hours to vacate their abodes, came with the accusation that they sided with the Army and passed information to them about Tiger movements. Also the same year Tigers killed 64 Muslims in Nintavur the same year, hurling similar allegations at them.
Muslims all over the North and the East were generally treated as government "spies" by the LTTE and this attitude is partly attributed to the violence unleashed against them at regular intervals.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Monday appointed a three-member committee comprising Defence Secretary Austin Fernando, Army Commander Lionel Balagalle and Defence adviser Meril Gunaratne to submit a report proposing measures to be taken to prevent the LTTE killing those attached to the military intelligence.The move is likened to closing the stable door after the horse has bolted and one only wishes that in a few weeks time that there will not be cops and soldiers guarding the houses of personnel attached to the military intelligence, exposing them further.
It is proposed that the best way of ensuring the security of those who are in the hit list, is to provide a safe passage out of the country for them, at least for the time being.
Given Prabhakaran's decree on the LRRP, which deprived him of several of his trusted and talented leaders, there is no doubt that priority should be given to the members of the LRRP who should be sent to safe havens.
However, equally or even more important is the tracking down of "inside men" who provide information to the Tigers.
It appears that the military top brass has a fair idea as to who is doing it and it's a matter of eliciting such vital information professionally while guarding their identities.
One also wonders what the government intends doing with the information it gets through other sources, under different circumstances.
For instance it was reported in the newspapers that a 22-year old EPDP member Selliah Paraman who escaped from the LTTE custody a couple of weeks ago, had said, that a large number of government troops and members of other Tamil political parties are kept in LTTE custody, in underground cells in the jungles.
Has the government done anything in this connection?
What about the security of this EPDP member who is sure to have earned the wrath of the Tigers?
There are also reports of a masked pistol gangs operating in the East, which many feel belongs to an extremist group or groups, other than the LTTE.
Some masked men had recently flung a grenade at a group of Muslims in Jamaliyah, Trincomalee on Saturday.
Besides this, the killings in Mutur and the manner in which they were carried out all demand a thorough investigation and if one goes by what the people in Mutur have told the media it is clear that they know more about these pernicious elements.All these lead to the root cause of the failure of the government to track down undesirable elements- the need for a more vibrant integrated intelligence system through which information is received and shared by all forces and the police.
What we have today is a situation where one force jealously guards its information while a highly politicized National Intelligence Bureau (NIB) is preoccupied with collecting information about opposition politicians.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's government needs to treat and address all these shortcomings if it is genuinely keen on improving the intelligence services while keeping a tab on all insidious elements that threaten the national security, be they the LTTE, the Eastern gangs or the underworld.

How a 'top State secret' became public - Situation Report by Iqbal Athas-Sunday Times-January 6, 2002

After seven long years of "Eelam War Three," year 2002 dawned in Sri Lanka on a historic note.
Guns went silent in the battlefields as the security forces and Tiger guerrillas continued to observe a truce which came into effect from midnight December 24, or Christmas eve.
In terms of nomenclature, even if it was referred to as "cessation of hostilities," the commencement of talks between the United National Front (UNF) Government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), in the coming weeks and months will see this transform into a formal cease-fire.
The UNF Government does not want to take any chances or send any wrong signal to the LTTE in the interim period. That has been made very clear to those concerned.
One area where it was clearly reflected was in a directive Chief of Defence Staff, General Rohan de S. Daluwatte, sent out on December 23 last year, to Commanders of the Army (Lt. Gen. Lionel Balagalle), Navy (Vice Admiral Daya Sandagiri), Air Force (Air Marshal Jayalath Weerakkody) and Inspector General of Police (Lucky Kodituwakku). Also copied to commanders in battle areas, the instructions were clear about the "cessation of hostilities." This is what it says:
• "Status quo with regard to ground deployment will remain.
• Security forces and Police will not launch offensive operations. This includes firing of direct and indirect weapons.
• However, security forces and the Police have the right to defend the Forward Defensive Zones up to a distance of 500 metres from the Forward Defensive Line/bunker line by employing observation posts, listening posts, patrols, ambushes, obstacle belts etc. The status quo should be maintained by both parties in the area between the bunker lines. Should any activity be conducted by the LTTE disturbing the status quo, such action should immediately be reported to the respective Service Commanders/IGP and this HQ (the JOH) also be informed accordingly.
• Security forces and Police will continue to carry out operations in the cleared areas as done previously.
• The Air Force will refrain from aerial bombar-dment of ground targets.
• Naval operations conducted at sea with a view to prevent the import of arms, ammunition or other military equipment by the LTTE will continue and the Air Force will support the Navy in the event of a confrontation without any restrictions.
• Should any situation arise, which the parties may consider to be a violation of the declaration of the cessation of hostilities, otherwise than by the use of force, the parties will endeavour to resolve such a situation.
• Any violation of cessation of hostilities in any form or nature must be immediately brought to the notice of the Service Commanders/IGP and this HQ (JOH) also informed accordingly."
Confrontations between the security forces and the Tiger guerrillas have come to a halt with the cessation of hostilities. But, that is not to say the war is over. Raging internecine wars have intensified in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Police causing not only factionalism but low morale and instability. Fuelling this situation almost every day is the lack of any visible action by the United National Front leadership, in the past four weeks, not only to arrest the disturbing trends but also the dangers it poses to national security.
Whilst the three services have been the mainstay in the battle against Tiger guerrillas and for the enforcement of the Government's writ in "controlled" areas, the Police form the bulwark of the law and order machinery.
Nowhere is the phenomenon felt more acutely than in the Sri Lanka Army, the largest security establishment in the country. Army Commander, Lt. Gen. Balagalle, who offered jobs for his soldiers with United Nations troops during PA's election campaign, received a strong rebuff from President Kumaratunga, for trying to get rid of his number two, Chief of Staff, Maj. Gen. Neil Dias. This was by using the very Regulations which the President promulgated to keep Lt. Gen. Balagalle in office when he was to retire at 55 years (on June 14, 2001).
But a more shocking blow came when Police conducted a raid last Wednesday night on a safe house at Athurugiriya, operated by the Directorate of Military Intelligence, to conduct counter terrorist operations. Assisting in the raid were men from the Army's Military Police (or CCMP –Corps Ceylon Military Police, as they are commonly referred to). That the Army leadership, pre-occupied with their own problems, was unable to prevent a serious breach of national security when this happened, could not avoid a dangerous situation developing and allowed the LTTE to get to know state secrets, to say the least, is most damning.
The greatest irony of all this is the fact that an officer and five men are now detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and are being interrogated by a Police team led by SP Kulasiri Udugampola. Until last night, they are all being held at a secret location in Kandy. All of them are in one room and have to tolerate the ignominy of a stinking toilet whilst they answer questions from their interrogators.
These very men were at the forefront of the fight against terrorism. The Sunday Times has learnt since the Police raid, their arrest and the resultant publicity, the LTTE has come to know details of some matters that have remained a top state secret for security reasons. This is not to fault the Police or Mr. Udugampola for carrying out the raid.
An SP in the Kandy Division, Mr. Udugampola, had obtained a Court Order to conduct a raid on a house at the Millennium City at Athurugiriya. Before the raid, he had got in touch with the Army's Provost Marshal, Major General Ivan Das-sanayake, and obtained the help of Military Police officials to accompany him. Yet, Army Commander Lt. Gen. Balagalle was unaware that one of the Army's top secret operations which had brought great success and increased public confidence was going to be laid bare. Did Maj. Gen. Dassanayake inform Lt. Gen. Balagalle ? The fact that Military Police help was sought clearly indicated that the raid was on an Army establishment or one connected with it.
Who are the five men now in custody of the Police under the Prevention of Terrorism Act ? They are a Captain and four regular soldiers assigned to the Directorate of Military Intelligence. The sixth is a former Tiger guerrilla cadre, who surrendered to the security forces and later enlisted as a soldier.
The LTTE is now aware that these men are part of a Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) Group – highly trained men who infiltrated Tiger guerrilla controlled areas and carried out devastating attacks. Their area of activity was the Batticaloa district and helping them to cross barriers was the Special Task Force (STF), the commando arm of the Police.
The team's most prized accomplishments have been many. In the recent past it was the attack on Thambirasa Kuhasanthan alias "Nizam," the LTTE Military Intelligence Wing leader for Batticaloa. It was Nizam who was in charge of all "suicide killer" and other attacks in the City. The Captain and his men infiltrated Tiger guerrilla dominated territory on June 9 last year, and carried out the attack on Nizam. He was killed. And now, the LTTE has become privy not only to the identities of the Captain but also the five others. This has been confirmed by intelligence channels. For obvious reasons one cannot elaborate.
Why did Police raid the Athurugiriya residence ? Contrary to claims that the investigations were a follow up of the killings at Udathala-winna during election vio-lence, the probe is related to an entirely different matter. It is an extension of the allegations United National Party Chairman Charitha Ratwatte and Vice Chairman Daya Pelpola made to the Army Commander on November 10, 2001.
They alleged that thermo-baric explosives had been brought from the operational areas in the North to the Panaluwa Army Testing Range and that certain persons alleged to be attached to a Northern Tamil Political Party were being trained in its use. The training, they alleged, was being co-ordinated by the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) together with Army instructors specially flown from the north. The UNP leaders said there may be an attempt to use these weapons on the meetings held by the UNP leadership and the Leader's campaign bus.
Lt. Gen. Balagalle in a letter to Mr. Ratwatte (and copy to Mr. Pelpola) declared "there is no substance in the information" and referred their letters to the Police Chief Lucky Kodituwakku, for whatever action he deemed necessary. Mr. Kodituwakku directed a CID team to investigate the matter but they could not record any statements since those concerned were busy.
The Sunday Times learns that men who were trained at Panaluwa were those engaged in the LRRP operations. They were taught the use of thermobaric weapons for use in assault on Tiger guerrilla positions. However, the Police in Kandy are learnt to have information from an informant that the Athurugiriya Safe House was linked to attempts at possible harm to Prime Minister Ranil Wickreme-singhe and to earlier claims of men being trained at Panaluwa.
Police investigations are focused in this regard but The Sunday Times has learnt no tangible evidence has been uncovered so far to establish there was in fact a threat to Premier Wickremesinghe arising from the training at Panaluwa or through the Athurugiriya Safe House. Hence, Police may be compelled to release the Captain and the five men if they cannot establish there was a plot of any kind. But some Police officials talk of attempts to indict the men for the possession of a cache of weapons though Military Intelligence officials insist there is official documentation for every item – the acquisition of the Safe House as well as every weapon found.
When Mr. Udugampola raided the Athurugiriya Safe House, in the company of the Military Police and men from the Athurugiriya Police, among the items found were: ten anti-personnel mines, 20 land mines, four Light Anti-Tank Weapons (LAW), one pair of goggles, two T-56 rifles, 12 magazines, 418 rounds of ammunition, one AK 47 rifle, 66 Tiger guerrilla uniforms, seven (ten kilogramme) claymore mines, one (eight kilogramme) claymore mine, 17 exploders, nine (50 metre) wire rolls, eight (100 metre wire rolls), one cyanide capsule, three antennas, three remote control devices, three detonators and thermobaric weapons.
The discovery was to create more confusion. Learning of the raid, Lt. Gen. Balagalle telephoned Police Chief Lucky Kodituwakku to plead with him to sort out the matter. Director General of Military Intelligence (DGMI) Brigadier Kapila Hendavithana was rushed by him to Athurugiriya. When the DGMI spoke on the phone to Mr. Kodituwakku from the scene to say he could account for all the finds, the latter had wanted to speak to Mr. Udugampola.
That conversation was to take a bad turn. Mr. Udugampola was to later telephone Interior Minister John Amaratunga, to complain of pressures on him. Interior Ministry officials were to soon assume that Police were trying to suppress matters relating to the raid. The media was tipped off and there was wide publicity. Minister Amaratu-nga despatched his relative and now a senior official, Lal Ratnayake, a former DIG, to Athurugiriya to make sure nothing was done to suppress matters. The Captain and the five men were bundled up and driven first to Military Police Headquarters in Narahenpita and then to Kandy where Detention Orders were served on them under the PTA. Their statements are now being recorded. They were taken to some places in Katugastota yesterday and no visitors were allowed to see them.
Internal Army investigations have raised some intriguing questions. It was only on December 15 last year, the Athurugiriya Safe House had been obtained on rent by the Directorate of Military Intelligence for a period of six months. It has been standard practice for DMI to operate Safe Houses for secret operations. Some months ago, one in fact functioned in close proximity to the Kotte-Sri Jayawardhanapura Parliamentary complex. The address of the house was such a closely guarded secret that only one or two DMI officials knew it.
Yet, the Court Order Mr. Udugampola obtained contai-ned the exact address of the house. Did a rival group within DMI surreptitiously obtain the address from an official in question and leak it ?
Did a close relative of a senior police official involved in the investigations, now attached to the Military Police, play a role in obtaining the address and facilitate the raid? Inquiries have not only raised this aspect but many other sensitive matters which show that a group within the DMI has been working against the leadership. They have now been identified and disciplinary action is to follow.
The last LRRP operation from the Safe House at Athurugirya had been prematurely concluded on December 21. This was after it became difficult to execute a "highly classified" and sensitive operation when it became clear there would be a cessation of hostilities. The men who came back to the Safe House had later returned some equipment including a Global Positioning System and encrypted communication sets to a camp in Kohuwala. The balance equipment was to be returned to a camp in Kosgama when the raid took place. DMI officials are now ready with documentation relating to weapons and other equipment.
Whatever the outcome of the Police investigation, the identities of some brave men who have risked their lives to attack the guerrillas is now public. So are their operations. All because of the callous inaction on the part of some of those responsible.
All is not well in the Sri Lanka Navy too. The leadership has been the subject of strong criticism for their inability to stall Tiger guerrillas from inducting weapons supplies through the north eastern seas. The Government last week ordered a full inquiry after The Sunday Island revealed that a large haul of weapons had been smuggled by the LTTE and the Navy had failed to intercept it.
Chairing a meeting of principal Staff Officers and Area Commanders at Navy Headquarters last Thursday, Navy Commander Vice Admiral Daya Sandagiri devoted considerable time to the media. He said he was not worried about media criticism or care about it. He said the media did not determine the destinies of people. They were born with it. He said the Government was aware of those leaking information to the media.
Vice Admiral Sandagiri has been at the end of criticism after ordering a Mercedes Benz worth Rs. 8.5 million as his official car during the general election period. This is despite the Navy possessing a number of Benz vehicles. In addition, he had also ordered the conversion of a Navy Pajero jeep by installing an intercooler engine at a cost of over Rs. 600,000. This was despite the Pajero jeep being in good condition with its original engine.
An action of Vice Admiral Sandagiri which is likely to pose an irritant in the upcoming peace process is his decision to construct a temple at Madagal – one of two vows he has kept, of all things at state expense, upon becoming Commander of the Navy. A small temple has been built and he is making arrangements to fly senior officers and their spouses to Jaffna for a ceremony on January 21. Two engineers sent from Colombo for the construction of the temple died in an accident in Jaffna. The second vow, a ban on the consumption of beef in the Navy, has come into effect from January 1, this year. The ban is despite objections from four of five Area Commanders of the Navy.
In the Sri Lanka Air Force, both infighting and campaigns have reached a high pitch. Some of those affected by the Court of Inquiry into last July's Tiger guerrilla attack on the SLAF base and the Bandaranaike International Airport have launched a vicious campaign against its Commander, Air Marshal Jayalath Weerakkody. One of the major allegations was that he transported illegal weapons to Kandy during the election campaign. Another is that he evacuated former Deputy Defence Minister, Gen. Anuruddha Ratwatte and his family, by an Air Force helicopter after he ceased to be a minister. Both allegations are being flatly denied by senior Air Force officials. A strong campaign, these officials say, is not only creating dissension but also disciplinary problems.
The infighting in the Police has become so acute that the Inspector General of Police, Lucky Kodituwakku, who had been at the centre of controversy during the election campaign and his own son, Ranmal Kodituwakku, are now at the centre of widespread allegations and a strong campaign.
Mr Kodituwakku, now 61, received a year long extension of service from the PA Government and some sections of the United National Front want to see him removed. He has, however, been asked to continue to function as Police Chief by the UNF leadership. Other likely aspirants are making their own pitch for the post.
An anonymous petition to the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption about the quali-fications of Mr. Koditu-wakku's son, Ranmal Koditu-wakku, is now under inves-tigation. It centres over his qualifications to be an Assistant Superintendent of Police.
However, senior Police officials backing Mr. Kodituwakku say Ranmal, spent 11 years in California. He has been a product of Redlands University with qualifications in Maths and Economics. They say he was recruited after his credentials were verified from the United States Embassy in Colombo.
Divisions have become so sharp at Police Headquarters with at least one senior DIG staking strong claims to the post of IGP. These developments have pre-occupied the Police hierarchy so much that the pace of normal work is not only slowing down but the malaise is spreading to the provinces too. One of the reasons often attributed for the UNF Government's inaction is a reported assurance it had given President Kumaratunga that no top level changes in the security forces or the Police would be made for three months. That is said to be the basis on which she parted with the Ministry of Defence portfolio.
But, if the existing situation in the security forces and the Police are allowed to deteriorate, particularly due to no action of any sort being taken by the new Government, its priority will become peace talks on two fronts – one with the Tiger guerrillas and the other with those in the country's security establish-ment. The writing is clearly on the wall.

Tigers crack Mike mystery after Safe House blunder - By Iqbal Athas

From June to December 2001, the six month period ahead of the last Parliamentary General Elections, was most hectic for men from the Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols (LRRPs). The men from the Army's Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI), operating in Batticaloa and Amparai, had attacked several targets within Tiger guerrilla dominated areas in the two districts. As one leader after another fell victim, fear had gripped the guerrilla leadership. It rose to fever pitch levels after Karikalan, the Political Wing leader for Batticaloa, escaped an LRRP attack on October 18, 2001. So much so, the "Military Commander" for the East, "Colonel" Karuna and his senior colleagues did not attend that year's "Maveerar" (Great Heroes) Week ceremonies in the Batticaloa district in November. This most observed event in guerrilla dominated areas marks religious observances in memory of guerrilla cadres who died in the separatist war with Security Forces. It culminates with the annual address (on November 27) by Velupillai Prabhakaran, leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). There was one man who was responsible for all the panic. His name was a closely guarded secret. Only the head of the LRRP team, Captain S.H. Mohamed Nilam dealt with him. He knew the man only as Mike. It was Mike who in turn liaised with a network of operatives as well as informants, including one time guerrilla cadres, in the Batticaloa and Amparai districts. He liaised with the LRRP team. Together they had set off the worst fear psychosis and panic. Soon after the General Elections, on January 2, 2002, a Police team led by then SP (Special Operations) in the Kandy district, Kulasiri Udugampola, conducted a raid on the DMI's Safe House in the Millennium City in Athurugiriya. It was made out be a hide out from which the country's military leaders planned to assassinate leaders of the United National Party (UNP) that won the elections and formed a United National Front (UNF) Government. There was a massive media blitz over the matter. There was a public outcry that some top men in men in uniform, under the guise of fighting the Tiger guerrillas, were in fact plotting to eliminate UNP leaders. This was after the military hardware discovered at the Safe House was displayed to the media from the Cinnamon Gardens Police Station. Captain Nilam and his men, the LRRP team, were transported under Police guard and placed in remand cells of the Kandy Police together with common criminal suspects. They had been arrested as terrorist suspects. Detention Orders against them had been obtained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), the tough laws promulgated to deal with Tiger guerrillas. The men were incarcerated as their investigators readied to put them on trial for plotting to murder political leaders. But revelations in The Sunday Times (Situation Report - January 6, 2002) put paid to all their efforts. Headlined "How a 'top State secret' became public," the report said "….a more shocking blow came when Police conducted a raid last Wednesday night on a Safe House at Athurugiriya, operated by the Directorate of Military Intelligence, to conduct counter terrorist operations. Assisting in the raid were men from the Army's Military Police…" The report added: "That the Army leadership pre-occupied with their own problems, was unable to prevent a serious breach of national security when this happened, could not avoid a dangerous situation developing and allowed the LTTE to get to know state secrets, to say the least, is most damning. "The greatest irony of all this is the fact that an officer and five men are now detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and are being interrogated by a Police team led by SP Kulasiri Udugampola. Until last night, they are all being held at a secret location in Kandy. All of them are in one room and have to tolerate the ignominy of a stinking toilet whilst they answer questions from their interrogators. "These very men were at the forefront of the fight against terrorism. The Sunday Times has learnt since the Police raid, their arrest and the resultant publicity, the LTTE has come to know details of some matters that have remained a top secret for security reasons….." One man who was closely watching these developments in the guerrilla dominated Wanni was LTTE's intelligence boss, Pottu Amman. The man who plotted the assassination of late Indian Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, ordered his intelligence cadres to crack down on operatives and informants helping the DMI. That included not only those who were suspected to be in contact with the Army, but all those civilians in the "border" areas who had continued to help carry out attacks. Later on, Pottu Amman travelled to Batticaloa to personally over see the "elimination" of all those who were "collaborating" with the Army. On January 16, 2002 guerrilla intelligence cadres launched a secret operation in the Batticaloa town. They abducted V. Vidyarathan. He was taken to a hideout in the guerrilla dominated Kokkadicholai area. He was subjected to torture and intense interrogation for four days. The man cracked under heavy pressure and pain. He confessed he was Mike and had been helping Captain Nilam and his LRRP team. He was shot dead on January 20. It saw the beginning of a campaign of arrest, interrogate and kill. On February 10, Lance Corporal "Clarry" was abducted in a secret operation in Chenkalady in Batticaloa. Soon, details of how agent Mike worked with Captain Nilam began to unfold. LTTE Intelligence cadres and pistol gangs fanned out from Batticaloa to mount surveillance on the names of the operatives and informants that had emerged. Similar exercises were also carried out in Batticaloa and Amparai districts. A stepped up campaign to unfurl the network of DMI operatives helping in LRRP operations had been launched. The Sunday Times today reveals (see box story) the names of civilian informants and operatives directly connected to the Safe House activity who were killed after its existence came to be known. Besides them, guerrillas also came down hard on other suspected informants of Police and other services during the crackdown. By July, 2002, Tiger guerrillas had obtained a fuller picture of the LRRP operations and how they were conducted with the help of Mike. On July 3, 2002 guerrilla cadres abducted Lance Corporal Saundrarajan, a key operative who had taken part in an abortive attack on "Jim Kelly," an LTTE cadre. He had also taken part in the attack on guerrilla area leader Babu on September 17, 2001 and the abortive attempt on Karikalan. He had also later taken part in the ambush and attack on two other guerrillas, Swarnaseelan and Devadas on November 26, 2001 By December, 2002, guerrilla intelligence cadres had tracked down some of those assisting the LRRP and were moved from the East to Colombo. On December 11, 2002, the first informant, Ganesha Moorthy alias Thilakaraj was shot dead by a pistol group. This was followed by the murder on January 3, 2003, of Lance Corporal Pulendrarasa. He was an operative who had worked closely with Mike. Another close associate of Mike, Kadirgamathamby Ragupathi alias Ragu was shot dead on March 18, 2003. Neither the Security Forces nor the Police were able to launch any cordon and search operations to track down the Tiger guerrilla intelligence operatives or the pistol gangs. They had not only infiltrated the City but were operating with impunity. The UNF Government did not to want to order any crackdown on their activity for fear that the Ceasefire Agreement with the LTTE would be affected. The guerrillas continued their witch hunt. On April 2, 2003, Sinnathambi Ranjan alias Varadan, who worked closely with Mike was shot dead. On April 26 of the same year, Lance Corporal Devarasa, an operative who took part in LRRP operations and worked closely with Mike was shot dead. He had left a military camp where he was living for reasons of security to visit his family in Dehiwala when the incident occurred. In the wake of these killings, requests made by state intelligence agencies to senior officials in the then Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Interior to launch a comprehensive "search and clear" operation in the City were not heeded. This was after intelligence reports that guerrillas had increased their Safe Houses and smuggled in more military hardware into them. A guerrilla pistol gang, who had conducted surveillance and kept following Lance Corporal Paramanthan Ravindrakumar trapped him at a City intersection. They poured six bullets into his body on July 15, 2003, wounding him seriously. He survived after surgery and was moved to a safe location thereafter. It is in the backdrop of all these developments that the controversy of the Army Safe House in the Millennium City at Athurugiriya had continued for more than two years. At first UNF politicians denied the existence of such a Safe House. They insisted that the revelations of activities at the Safe House did not lead to any killing of operatives or informants - a claim which is proved wrong as details on this page today show. Soon after The Sunday Times revelations that the Safe House was in fact part of the DMI's counter terrorist operations, then Defence Minister, Tilak Marapana, directed Army Commander, Lt. Gen. Lionel Balagalle to appoint a Court of Inquiry. This Court of Inquiry concluded that the activities of the Safe House were legitimate and all military hardware found therein was obtained after proper procedures were followed. This led to Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremasinghe, ordering (through then Defence Secretary, Austin Fernando), that another Court of Inquiry be appointed to probe how information about the existence and activity at the Safe House were leaked. This was with the intention of meting out punishment to those found responsible for such leaks or related activity. Though the Court brought out its findings, no such punishment was meted out by the Army leadership. The UNF now wants to probe this aspect too through a Parliamentary Select Committee. Amidst public controversy and rising number of incidents in the killing of operatives as well as informants, President Chandrika Bandarnaike Kumaratunga appointed a Commission of Inquiry to probe the Safe House fiasco. It was headed by retired Appeal Court Judge D. Jayawickrema. The Commission held that the raid was a "total betrayal and absolute treachery to the nation." In other words, this ruling meant that besides compromising national security interests, by conducting the raid, those directly responsible had engaged in an act that amounted to treachery. Needless to say such acts are serious in nature compared to other misdemeanours for which those in the Security Forces or Police are punished. The Commission report listed the names of those responsible for the omissions and commissions in the Army and the Police. In seeking to punish those in the Army, President Kumaratunga sought advice from the leadership. That was from the very leadership that had not acted on the earlier Courts of Inquiry. Now, the punishment meted out has raised a serious controversy and raised questions whether they were commensurate, fair and just with the lapses reported to have been committed. The senior most officer in the Army to be dealt with by the Commander, Lt. Gen. Lionel Balagalle, is the Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Ivan Dassanayake. He has been called upon to retire from service on March 31, this year - three months ahead of the date (June 30) when he would reach his mandatory maximum period of three years as a Major General. If an extension of service until his 55th birthday on December 16, was not allowed Maj. Gen. Dassanayake would have to retire. In such an event, in any cause, he could opt to go on leave preparatory to retirement on March 31. Maj. Gen. Dassanayake has strongly denied any improper involvement in the Safe House fiasco. He has told so to Lt. Gen. Balagalle and is said to be seeking legal recourse against this action. He feels that punishment has been meted out to him without his being called upon to show cause. Compounding the situation further is another development. In a move that appeared to be an afterthought, early this week Lt. Gen. Balagalle wrote to Maj. Gen. Dassanayake informing him that he had been relieved of his responsibilities as both Colonel Commandant of the Sri Lanka Corps Military Police (SLCMP) and as Adjutant General. He had just been attached to Army Headquarters. Here is a hilarious situation - a Major General has been told to retire on March 31 after Lt. Gen. Balagalle's own recommendation to President Kumaratunga. Yet the Army Commander does not want him to serve in the posts allotted to him until the date of that retirement. He is merely attached to Army Headquarters. What is he expected to do? Is it not to while away his time. Is this a punishment? Such action seems unprecedented in the Army. Questions have also arisen about why only some officers and men on whom strictures have been made by the Presidential Commission were punished whilst others were allowed to go completely free. Here again, the question is whether it was prudent to have asked the Army leadership to recommend punishment on those against whom strictures have been made by the Presidential Commission of Inquiry. If there was a failure to include recommendations on punishment as a term of reference of the Commission, highly placed military sources told The Sunday Times it would have been better for President Kumaratunga to have used her prerogative as Commander in Chief and ordered on the course of action. This is particularly in view of the failure of the Army high command to act on the recommendations of the Courts of Inquiry and also in view of allegations of serious partiality. The fact that there have been various pressure moves to avoid punishment being meted out on some is no secret. The punishments, which no doubt arose from the Commission's findings that those concerned have committed acts amounting to treachery, were fixed to take effect not immediately. They were decided upon weeks earlier, but January 30 was fixed as the effective date. The move is in marked contrast to prompt punishment meted out to officers or men accused of murder, rape or other acts of misconduct. But in a case where a Presidential Commission has held that the lapses amounted to treachery, advance notice has been issued on those concerned. Must one say anything more about how things have become comical in the defence establishment where there seems to be little or no control now? The hilarious chapter on Army action is now over. President Kumaratunga also wrote to Police Chief, Indra de Silva, about action on former SP (and now ASP) Kulasiri Udugampola, who conducted the raid and others in the Police who assisted him. He has already set up a special team. (See box story). In the meanwhile, the Supreme Court, the nation's highest judicial body, has ruled that the fundamental rights of Captain Nilam and his LRRP team, were violated by Mr Udugampola. He has been ordered to pay within three months a sum of Rs 50,000 each to five of the LRRP operatives. The State has been ordered to pay Rs 750,000 each for them. Only the outcome of the Police probe now remains. The curtain thus falls on the Athurugirya Safe House episode, at least until such time the Parliamentary Select Committee begins its own probe. From the developments so far, the action taken by those responsible seem to raise more questions than they answer. Whether they would find a chapter in the Guinness Book of Records or a humorous corner in Sri Lanka's military history remains the question. The LRRP men who paid the ultimate price The LRRP men who paid the ultimate price The Sunday Times today reveals details of intelligence operatives and civilian informants who were closely associated with LRRP operatives by the Directorate of Military Intelligence. They were all tracked down and assassinated by Tiger guerrillas after the existence of the Safe House became public. January 20, 2002 V. Vidyarnthan alias Vidya alias Nidhi - Informant - Abducted on January 16, 2002 and killed on January 20, 2002. February 09, 2002 Clary alias Gadaffi Ex- guerrilla cadre - abducted from Chenkallady town and killed. July 22, 2002 Saundarajah A alias Arinjan Ex-guerrilla cadre - abducted from Batticaloa town on July 3 and killed at Vakarai. December 11, 2002 Ganeshmoorthy alias Thilakarajah Samithambi Informant - killed by LTTE gun-men in Colombo. January 03, 2003 Pulendrarasa alias Cashier Ex-guerrilla cadre - abducted in Kallady and killed. March 18, 2003 Kadiragamthambi Ragupathi alias Ragu Informant - killed by the LTTE gun-men in Colombo. April 13, 2003 Sinnathambi Rajan alias Varadan Informant - to be enlisted to the Army shot dead by the LTTE pistol group in Colombo. April 26, 2003 Devarajha L. alias Ashok Ex- LTTE cadre - killed in Colombo. May 21, 2003 Kumar Perumal Perimban alias Master Ex-PLOTE cadre - killed in Batticaloa town. Besides the above, among intelligence operatives, soldiers, para military troops who were not connected to LRRP operations but were killed after the Safe House activities came to be known were: August 14, 2002 Kanapathipillai Devadas Tamil soldier - abducted and killed. December 02, 2002 Aseesh SM Soldier - abducted and killed. April 23, 2003 Sidambarapilai Yashodaran Tamil soldier - abducted and killed. May 19, 2003 Sooriyan K Tamil soldier - killed in Batticaloa. August 03, 2003 LT Rilvan Police Sergeant - abducted and killed in Trincomalee. August 08, 2003 Vivekanada Sammugarasa SP Tamil soldier - abducted and killed. September 14, 2003 Saundanayagam Sabarathnam Tamil soldier - killed in Palameenmadu. Among civilian informants (not connected with LRRP operations) but killed after activities of the Safe House came to be known were: March 11, 2002 Pulendrarajha - abducted and killed in Muttur. July 06, 2002 Thangarajha Premadasa alias Varuman - killed with his mistress in Welikanda. March 20, 2003 Nagoorkanee Ashish - abducted and killed. April 13, 2003 Subramaniyam Jayadewan - killed in Batticaloa. April 23, 2003 Sellaiya Puvendrarasa - killed in Thunnalai. May 16, 2003 Ariyanandan Hemachandran - Killed in Jaffna. July 17, 2003 bdul Bahir Fauzi - Killed in Uppuveli. August 30, 2003 Sebamalai Vimalkumaran - killed in Vavuniya. Erambamurthi Sabanayagam - Abducted in Matale and killed in Batticaloa. Police Chief taking action Police Chief, Indra de Silva, has set up a team headed by a Senior Superintendent of Police to conduct investigations against Policemen on whom strictures have been made by the Presidential Commission of Inquiry over the Athurugiriya Safe House fiasco. The team is to question former SP (and now ASP) Kulasiri Udugampola who conducted the raid. Also to be questioned are a one time senior Police official, a DIG, two SSPs and a number of Police officers. This Police probe is a sequel to the findings of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry that probed the Safe House raid. It was headed by retired Appeal Court judge, D. Jayawickrema. President Kumaratunga had asked the IGP to take follow up action. According to highly placed sources, the outcome of this inquiry will determine both Departmental and legal action against those in the Police Department (both serving and retired) who have been named in the Commission report. These sources said such action will be determined after the team's report is handed over to Police Chief, de Silva. This is to be done in consultation with both the police Commission and the Attorney General's Department. These sources admitted that earlier Police Chief de Silva had forwarded the Presidential Commission report to the Police Commission and asked them to take action. This was on the basis that it was the Police Commission that was empowered to take disciplinary action against Policemen. However, the Commission had pointed out that it was not empowered to act on the Commission's recommendation and called upon the Police to first conduct their own probe. Meanwhile The Sunday Times learns that Police Chief de Silva recommended to the Police Commission that ASP Udugampola be sent on compulsory leave. This follows last Thursday's Supreme Court ruling that he violated the fundamental rights of the LRRP team that operated from the Safe House at Athurugiriya. The team was led by Captain S.H. Mohamed Nilam. Ranjit Abeysuriya, Chairman of the Police Commission told The Sunday Times "I have received the recommendations. The matter is under consideration." He said, "There was a problem earlier, but that does not arise now since there is a Supreme Court ruling on the matter." A three judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising Chief Justice Sarath N. de Silva and comprising Shirani A. Bandaranayake and P. Edussuriya, unanimously held that the fundamental rights of Captain Nilam and four of his colleagues were violated. In an additional observation to the judgement, Justice Edussuriya, who referred to the conduct of ASP Udugampola noted that "if he did not act with any ulterior motive then, he has acted like an over - enthusiastic blundering schoolboy and has thereby displayed his incompetence."

Damning report on raid - By Poorna Rodrigo

Presidential commission accuses ASP Udugampola of acting like supreme commander in Athurugiriya raid; UNF government and then police chief held responsible for exposing military secrets
A Presidential Commission which probed the controversial police raid on the Athuruguirya military safe house last year has accused ASP Kulasiri Udugampola of behaving like a "supreme commander" and acting "above the law", thus jeopardising the security and the military strategy of the armed forces.
"If one is to accept the totality of the evidence led before the commission, it seems that ASP Udugampola was immune to any supervisory procedure and he has behaved as a supreme commander who was above the law," Commissioner D. Jayawickreme said in his report.
Mr. Jayawickreme, a retired Court of Appeal judge, in a report handed over to President Chandrika Kamaratunga, said he would hold the Prime Minister and the ministers concerned, the then IGP Lucky Kodithuwakku and his successor T.E. Anandarajah and all other senior police officers, responsible for the illegal act of ASP Udugampola.
"They were simply powerless to prevent the illegal action of ASP Udugampola even after they were apprised of the facts of this safe house and the activities of its personnel."
The report warned that if such "ill conceived police actions" as it happened in the case of the safe house were allowed to continue it would be "suicidal" to the safety of the nation.
It said the Athurugiriya raid had resulted in neutralising the military strategy of the Army in combating terrorism in the North East.
The commission said the unfortunate exposure by the media of highly successful LRRP (Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol) operations undertaken by the Directorate of the Military Intelligence had resulted in the LTTE acquiring the well-guarded secrets and led to a situation where the LTTE was able to liquidate those who had double crossed the group.
Stressing the need to take remedial action forthwith and punish those responsible for what the commission sees as a "great betrayal", the report recommended that steps be taken to de-politicise the Army and the Police and place them in the hands of capable young men to infuse professionalism and prepare the men for battle whenever the government wanted one.
It also recommended that military strategies of the LRRP and similar groups be known only to the Commander-in-Chief, the Commander of the Army and other Commanders and called for more punitive measures to punish people who abuse the system.
According to the report, the saga of the Army's Athurugiriya safe house began two months prior to the raid, when the then UNP Chairman Charitha Ratwatta and Vice Chairman Daya Pelpola, in a letter dated November 10, 2001, complained to the Army Commander Lionel Balagalla regarding the safe house seeing it as a bid to use explosives on meetings of the UNP leadership and the leader's campaign bus.
"The UNP Chairman warned the Army Commander that they would hold him responsible in the event of any such unfortunate incident."
"Mr. Ratwatta also has said to the commission that the information in the letter that the Directorate of the Military Intelligence was coordinating an attempt to use thermobaric explosives on the meetings held by the UNP was divulged by late Gamini Athukorala, the Deputy Leader of the UNP and unfortunately as dead men cannot speak, the Commission had no way of verifying the truth of this statement."
The report said that it was highly probable that certain officers in the Army along with ASP Udugampola, manipulated the story with the expectation that it would affect the results of the elections in favour of the UNP, and that in the event of UNP coming into power they would be adequately compensated.
However, the Army Commander convinced Mr. Ratwatte that there was "no substance in the information set out in the letter and Mr. Ratwatte was satisfied with the reply.
The matter however did not end there.
"If it was so, the matter should have ended then and there, but it did not. After the election results of December 5, 2001, the UNF came into power and within a month the Athurugiriya safe house was raided by ASP Udugampola from the Kandy Kennels Division under the guise of looking for suspects in the Udathalawinna murder case causing the greatest damage to the Army's LRRP operations which were extremely successful in countering and arresting terrorism," the report said.
Condemning the manner in which Mr. Udugampola took into custody several army personnel as illegal, immoral and in violation of all the rules and regulations of the police, the report said that it proved he had acted "arbitrarily and capriciously".
Saying that it is "unfortunate" that the new government could not prevent or control the actions of ASP Udugampola, despite the party chairman being convinced that there was no danger, the commission said that Mr. Udugampola proceeded with his illegal raid and investigations disregarding the orders from his own Inspector General of Police, Senior Police officers and even the advice of the Attorney General.
"The UNF Government's continued silence, in the wake of the obvious embarrassment, made matters worse in the case of the Athurugiriya safe house fiasco."
The report said Interior Minister John Amaratunga had himself admitted that the raid was "ill-conceived and harsh treatment was meted out to the officers. But the belated action by the Minister in refusing to issue Detention Orders on the arrest of armed personnel could by no means "rectify the damage" already caused to the Army's successful covert operations.
Minister Amaratunga had sent his own private secretary to assist ASP Udugampola in respect of the raid on the safe house and to give wide publicity to it, notwithstanding the fact he accepted it was "improper and unethical" for a Minister to interfere in police investigations, it said.
The commission said there was evidence that Lt. Col. Padmasiri Udugampola, SLCMP, brother of ASP Kulasiri Udugampola, Major General Ivan Dassanayake and Colonel K.H.N.S.S. Dharmaratna, Major A.C.A. de Soysa, SLCMP, Major B.M.A.N.S.K. Karunaratne, MIC, Corp, J.H.A.P. de Silva, JHAT-MIC and Corp. M.P.A. Pieris, JHAT-MIC, were all aware of the impending raid and had directly and indirectly assisted ASP Udugampola in raiding the safe house.
The report said that if these officers had any doubts about the safe house they should have brought it to the notice of the Army Commander and moved the military police to investigate.
"But those officers, without doing so, have conspired with Kulasiri Udugampola to raid this safe house for their own personal benefits. Moreover, none of these officers had informed the Army Commander or the Director, DMI, about it before the raid," the report said.