Sunday, October 24, 2004

Veerappan was told he could flee to Lanka by PK Balachanddran

Colombo, October 23

The Sri Lankan Tamil press on Saturday prominently featured a story that the bandit king, Veerappan, was tricked into coming out of the jungle by making him believe that he would be stealthily whisked away to the safety of LTTE-held area.

Both Sudar Oli and Thinakkural featured the story, but only Sudar Oli attributed it to Dinamalar, the popular multi-edition Tamil Nadu daily.

According to the story, about two months back, the Tamil Nadu Special Task Force (STF) had worked out two alternative plans to inveigle the highly suspicious bandit to come out of the safety of his jungle lair.

The first was to offer treatment for his eye problem and the second was to offer him a safe route to LTTE-controlled territory in Sri Lanka.

The fact that Veerappan had become close to some pro-LTTE Tamil extremists and that these elements were determining his public statements in the last few years, had come in handy to the STF.

The first strategy of offering medical aid in a safe hospital did not work because Veerappan was not convinced that it was safe. The STF had sent a man who was close to Veerappan to talk him into this, but he came back empty handed.

It was then that the second strategy was set in motion. Another close associate of Veerappan’s was bought over and sent into his lair to inveigle him.

Police Sub-Inspector Velladurai was then sent to pose as a Sri Lankan Tamil LTTE representative.

Velladurai, who had learnt to speak Tamil like the Sri Lankan Tamils do, carried a letter and some photos to prove that he was a LTTE man.

In the beginning, Veerappan was suspicious, and had refused the offer. But he was convinced after he was shown the letter and the photographs. Sub Inspector Velladurai told him that he could bring along his remaining associates too.

Veerappan then asked searching questions on how to get out, what route to take, and how much it would all cost.

He was told that the journey up to Salem would be by an ambulance, and then a private car would take them to Rameswaram, for the onward journey by a speedboat to north Sri Lanka.

The whole trip would cost Rs 3 lakh, Velladurai said.

Eager to dodge the police dragnet, which was closing in on him, Veerappan decided to leave his Ponnagaram hideout on October 18 at 10 pm. The rest is history.

Army major held for robbery and murder by Shamindra Ferdinando

The recent arrest of a graduate of the Kotelawala Defence Academy holding the rank of major with a stolen vehicle helped the CID to make a major breakthrough in its investigations into the disappearance of a vehicle and its driver several months ago.

"We initiated an inquiry after receiving a complaint from a person who owned several vehicles. He complained of the disappearance of a vehicle belonging to him and its driver," a senior CID spokesperson told the Sunday Island.

There was evidence to suggest that an army officer was probably involved in the disappearance. "But unfortunately we did not have corroborative evidence," he said, adding that the data available at the time was forwarded to the Criminal Records Division (CRD).

The breakthrough came unexpectedly when Wattegama police acting on a tip off arrested two persons fleeing the area in a stolen vehicle. "They were caught in the act," the CID spokesperson said, adding that once their identities were established, the investigators with the help of evidence available from the CRD, made the much awaited breakthrough.

Under interrogation, the second-in-command of an army camp in the Mannar sector and his buddy had admitted they hired the vehicle and then abducted its driver. According to investigators, the driver had been taken to the major’s room where he was drugged before they cut him to pieces and disposed of the body.

On the request of the CID, the Government Analyst’s Department visited the scene of the crime. Officials also visited the place where the body parts doused with fuel were burnt, the CID said.

Army headquarters said the officer had been with the Vijayabahu Infantry Regiment (Regular).

Investigators are trying to find out whether the army duo was responsible for any other killings.

Senior CID officials said that they had been called to investigate several cases where army officers were involved in fraud and corruption.

"Some officers have played out the state and the army in style," one officer said, revealing there were serious malpractices with regard to purchases in food rations and medical items.

Lives of we, Sinhalese are cheaper by the dozen by S. G. Goonawardena

The events that unfolded during the last few weeks would certainly have caused doubts in the minds of the ordinary citizens of this country, to which category this writer too belongs, as to whether, unknown to us, the Constitution of the country which guarantees equal rights to all citizens, had been amended, as will be evidenced below.

Whilst nobody is grudging the July ’83 victims being compensated, it must be emphasized that the number of Sinhalese who lost their lives and properties and who were chased away from their homes, from August ’83, todate are thousand and thousand times more than those who have been compensated. Yet the country’s so called national newspapers go to town spotlighting ‘July 83’ incidents as an annual ritual, totally ignoring to remind the readers of the other anniversaries which could be done not only in July but also during every month of the year.

Isn’t there any value attached to the lives and properties of the Sinhalese which would justify the appointment of a Truth Commission and payment of compensation. Adding insult to injury, the victims of the recent Muttur and Kandapola victims were compensated post haste, while Udatalawinna victims were gifted with lands in spite of pending cases in the latter two instances. While the head of the country tendered an unqualified apology to the July ’83 victims, there were no such apologies coming from any quarter for all the macabre and gory killings and damages that took place during the last twenty years. While the July ’83 incidents were the result of an act of grave and sudden provocation, about which nobody has cared to mention while describing the incidents; all the events that took place during the last twenty years were sans any provocation and were the results of acts of premeditated plans, which in itself increases the gravity of such crimes, when compared with the July 83 incidents. If this crass indifference shown to the Sinhalese victims is not a gross human right violation, this writer fails to understand what human rights violations they are. Every Government which comes to power with the votes of the majority community has acted in such as a way as to make the majority community, the 3rd class citizens of this country, whose lives have no value at all. What is worse is those who have apologized, never cared to mention a word of appreciation of the restraint and compassion shown by the majority community in spite of grave and sudden provocations, by living in complete harmony with the Tamil community with the rest of the country, while the Sinhalese in the North East do not enjoy such magnanimity.

A few months ago, at a hurriedly convened conference of police officers, the President stated that if so much as a pebble lands on the roof of a Church, the OIC of the relevant area would be caught by the neck and made responsible. Unfortunately, there were no such warnings to OICs when temples are subject to bomb attacks and when Buddhist priests are getting killed.

It has now transpired that some of the occupants of the lodges in Colombo are proving to be a security risk. But when a senior police officer who foresaw this risk during the tenure of the 1994—2000 government and started raiding the lodges, such raids were stopped at the request of the late Mr. Thondaman who was a senior minister of the then Government, and bombs started exploding again. That is the Sri Lankan way of providing security. Very soon, we will not be surprised, if when in late Mr. J. R. Jayewardene said at the height insurgency, is repeated once again. i.e. People should find their own security. Kawda Mewata Wagakiyanne.