Monday, October 25, 2004

The Oslo Canard and the ISGA - Spinning our way to Eelam - by Foxwatch

With every passing week, "the Oslo Declaration" and the alleged commitment to a federal form of government, are being elevated to Holy Writ and being used as a handle to plunge into negotiations on the ISGA.


Take this extract from the keynote statement at the inaugural ceremony of the National Advisory Committee for Peace and Reconciliation (NACPR) on October 4, 2004:

"..we require a commitment from the LTTE that the Interim Administration as well as the final solution would be based on the Oslo Declaration signed by the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE which declared that the Federal solution should be sought within the framework of a united Sri Lanka."

Myth and Reality

But, surprise, surprise, there has been no Oslo Declaration, and no known commitment by the GOSL to adopt a federal form of government. No such commitment can be made by anyone federation without first following the stipulated constitutional procedure.

The "Oslo Declaration" is a fabrication of spin doctors. What actually happened was that at the conclusion of the round of peace talks between the GOSL and the LTTE, the Norwegian government issued a statement which included the following extract:

"Responding to a proposal by the leadership of the LTTE, the parties agreed to explore a solution founded on the principle of internal self-determination in areas of historical habitation of the Tamil speaking peoples, based on a federal structure within a united Sri Lanka. The parties acknowledged that the solution has to be acceptable to all parties.

Exploration Spun Into Declaration and Agreement

Note that the operative word was "explore". The parties agreed to explore a federal solution. The outcome of the exploration, if any, is unknown to this day.

But that was enough for the spin doctors to work on. Imperceptibly, this LTTE proposal was elevated into an "Oslo Declaration." The fabrication was sealed at the donors’ meeting in Tokyo in June 2003, when the donors put together their notorious $ 4.5 billion dollar bribe which was conditional on rapid progress to Eelam. The meeting communique, titled The Tokyo Declaration On Reconstruction and Redevelopment of Sri Lanka, included two references to the need to proceed on the principles of the non existent "Oslo Declaration." With the GOSL’s ever-smiling representatives acquiescing in the placing of these time-bombs, the LTTE proposal was transformed into the Oslo Declaration. Later doosers then conjured up a fictitious agreement to a federal structure.

Parallel with Iraq

This deception has similarities with the skulduggery of Bush and Blair, who launched their attack on Iraq by deceiving their countries into believing that Saddam Hussein had attacked New York’s Twin Towers, and possessed weapons of mass destruction which could be deployed within 45 minutes.


Incidentally, the Norwegian draft above (probably authored by Balasingham), lifts the phrase "areas of historical habitation of the Tamil speaking peoples", an euphemism for "Tamil homelands", from the Indo-Lanka Accord of July 1987. The Indian text specifically referred to these areas as "the Northern and Eastern Provinces." And "Internal" self-determination, of course, was a nonsense concocted by Balasingham at the LTTE’s international press conference in the Wanni in April 2002, and eagerly grasped by the naive GOSL "Internal" would slide into "total" in quick time.

The Tale of Thimpu

The Oslo Declaration canard is only the latest in a host of errors and missed opportunities. Take the Thimpu Demands, for instance. Fairly early in the struggle to separate, the LTTE realised that subterfuge would be more likely to succeed than a brazen call to secede. The Tamil parties therefore came up with the Thimpu demands in 1985, these being —

`95 Recognition of the Tamils as a nation

`95 Recognition of the existence of an identified homeland for the Tamils.

`95 The right of the Tamil nation to self-determination.

`95 Recognition of the citizenship rights and fundamental rights of all Tamils who look upon the island as their country.

Eelam Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

These demands obviously added up to a separate Tamil state, and were rightly rejected by the GOSL, which then possessed negotiators of stature. Years later, the LTTE announced, as if offering an alternative, that they were prepared to accept a settlement on the basis of the Thimpu principles. Either from ignorance or collusion, the peacemakers hailed this subterfuge as a major breakthrough for Sri Lanka, and proof that the LTTE had given up its claim for Eelam, when it was actually a demand for Eelam in another guise.

Getting it Backwards

Further follies followed, evidently due to ignorance of the meanings of devolution, federation and confederation. When the extreme devolution proposals of the professor were running into trouble, the LTTE announced that they would settle for federation. Although this went further than devolution, it was rapturously received by the peaceniks as though it was a concession. While federal proposals were being, discussed, the LTTE announced that it would settle for confederation, which goes much further than federalism, and that too was hailed as a concession! Escalating LTTE demands were misinterpreted by naive GOSLs and peacemakers as concessions! To put it in terms which naive business tycoons can grasp, this was akin to a trade union negotiating for a 25% wage increase announcing that it would settle for 50%, and being complemented by the employers for their fairness!

Missing the Bus

Of the many missed opportunities to mobilise world opinion against the LTTE, two stand out. When the President narrowly escaped assassination at the hands of an LTTE suicide bomber in 1999, she berated the LTTE, but then, in a stunning non sequitur, appealed to Tamils to persuade the LTTE to come to the negotiating table! Had she taken her speech to its logical conclusion and called on the nation to join her in destroying the LTTE once and for all, the nation would have followed her to a man.

The same genius was displayed by the UNP in 2001 after the 9/11 attack on New York’s Twin Towers. President Bush made his denunciation of terror, and vowed to root out terrorists and those who harboured them. It was the perfect moment to raise an international alarm against the LTTE. But the Prime Minister, in a non sequitur as stunning as the President’s in 1999, cited the world’s revulsion against terrorists but, instead of isolating the LTTE, invited them to talk peace! Instead of the LTTE being targeted, it was sanitised.

And Now The ISGA

The tradition of blunders goes on. The NCAPR is stepping out firmly on the wrong foot by citing a fictitious Oslo Declaration, and demanding from the LTTE exactly what the LTTE wanted the GOSL to do!

JHU Get it Right

It is the much-maligned JHU who have grasped the parameters under which negotiations should take place. According to "The Island" of October 5, 2004 the JHU spelt out the following conditions on which it would support the NACPR:

1. The LTTE should accept the territorial integrity and the legal framework of Sri Lanka.

2. The LTTE should hand over all weapons in their possession and give a pledge that they would join the democratic mainstream.

3. The LTTE must give up killings and abductions.

4. The LTTE should give up recruiting children as soldiers immediately.

5. The LTTE should stop atrocities against persons in the North and east who oppose them.

6. The Northern and Eastern Provinces should be separated

Spot on. Unless these parameters are established, talks would be a total waste of time.

Waiting for Godot

One thing is certain. If Sri Lanka escapes from the mess which its leaders have created, it will not be because of the traditional political parties. But will Godot turn up before Eelam is ceded or declared?

‘Read Anandasangaree’s letter to Prabhakaran’

To all those politicians and others who are keen to talk to the LTTE, I would ask them to read Mr. Anandasagaree’s letter to Prabhakaran published in ‘The Island’ of 16th October. I would particularly like to draw their attention to the following para.

"My dear Tamby, I feel it is my duty to point out what is wrong and what is right. How can we expect any government to agree to give majority representation for the LTTE in the ISGA. Whatever we demand the concerned parties must be in a position to concede. This demand for majority representation in the ISGA for the LTTE will only be the first step towards the de-merger of the North and the East....." It further states "Will the Tamils agree to an administration of this nature? Will the Muslims and Singhalese agree to a set up like this and Can any government survive after conceding this demand?"

These are the views of a respected leader of the Tamil people. Any government or politician who wants to survive should consider these views before conceding to any of these ISGA proposals.

P. S. Mahawatte,

Peace, discipline, law and order

If the Government were to act according to the constructive criticism of the Letters to the Editors of newspapers and the eye-opening editorials therein, our motherland would be near Utopia, flowing with milk and honey. Unfortunately, the party system is such, Government cannot consciously act owing to the fear of losing a section of the votes. Hence the need for an honest dictator, who will have the guts to reign without fear or favour.

Why not restart the system of having a Press Officer in each Ministry, Department and Local Authority or Statutory Body. His duty would be to take cuttings of complaints, suggestions and criticisms in editorials and Letters to the Editors and pass them to the subject clerks for necessary action. Otherwise, it would be a case of pouring water on a duck’s back. Editors and readers, who write letters to the press, should not be made to feel that their voice is a voice in the wilderness.

During colonial times and even during the Premadasa regime, there was strict discipline, which has now gone to the dogs. The late President used to get up at 4 a.m. every day, go through first the editorials and Letters to the Editors, ring up the heads of departments even at ungodly hours and asked them to take immediate action on irregularities and report back to him in due course. As a result, public servants were kept on their toes because all culprits were punished, never allowed to go scott free as is the ‘modus operandi" now — at least they were threatened with a ‘transfer to Siberia.’

Another reason for the increase in crime is that our laws are very lenient. Take the case of a murderer, who has killed one or two girls after raping them. He is given free board and lodging on the Queen’s Free Boarding House throughout his life! O tempora! O mores!

LTTE not fighting for Tamil cause, charges JVP

The JVP yesterday alleged that the LTTE was not an organisation fighting for the rights of the Tamils but a group that drinks the blood of the Tamil people and other communities.

"This is evident with the recent killings of TNA member Kingsley Rasanayagam and two Muslim civilians from Welikanda," the party said in a statement.

Hitting out at the LTTE Political Wing Leader S.P. Tamilselvan's European tour, the JVP said even though he went on blabbering on to all European leaders about fighting for the democratic rights of the Tamil people, the Tamils were killed by the very organisation which claimed to be fighting for their right.

"Lets all join forces and come forward and put an end to the killings and abductions carried out by the Wanni LTTE cadres. We call upon all democratic political forces to join and fight against these inhuman slayings," the statement said.

Mystery consignment of hi-tech hospital gear lies unclaimed by Sajeewan Wijewardana

A grossly undervalued consignment of a multi-million rupee hospital beds and dressing material sent by a Tamil resident in Canada has been disclaimed by its local consignee, Customs said yesterday.

Customs officers acting under the directions of Customs Investigation Bureau (CIB) Deputy Director of Customs (DDC) Tilak Perera and Superintendent of Customs Parakrama Basnayake examined the goods in the presence of the local agents recently in the Orugodawatte Container Examination Bay, as they were suspicious about the undue delay on the part of the consignee to claim it.

CIB officers said that the local consignee, a famous computer firm had disclaimed the cargo, which was originally declared as one 40-foot container with a submitted value of 650,000 rupees. However, when the officers examined the cargo last week at the yard, they found two 40-foot containers with 60 electro-mechanically operated hospital beds, 52 bedside tables, a large amount of twin bed mattresses, suture material, dressings, medical tape, crutches, and other goods.

The beds have an electrically operated devise in the middle, which can be used to hoist the bed up and down.

"It is obvious that this is meant for some kind of injury treatment unit. There were no pharmaceutical goods.

This was for treating injury cases. Because preliminary investigations are still not complete, we do not know to whom it was actually meant for. And it is still too early to say that," a CIB officer said.

"We think the goods found in both containers were heavily undervalued. The declared value is Rs. 650,000. But the beds alone cost much more," he said.
The stock was shipped from Vancouver, Canada and sent by a Tamil resident in Toronto and arrived here in August. "We have some reservations about the case as nobody wants to claim it. We have issued summons to several people and more details will be uncovered soon," he said.

National event sans national flag, anthem

A group allegedly backed by the LTTE, prevented the hoisting of the national flag and the singing of the national anthem at a national netball tournament at the Public Ground in Vavuniya on Saturday, where Mrs. Shiranthi Rajapakse, the wife of Premier Mahinda Rajapakse was the chief guest.

Top police and Army officials participated in the ceremony but the Wanni parliamentarians were notable absentees.

The inauguration of the all Ceylon women's netball championship in Vavuniya was delayed by more than an hour Saturday morning after some local groups objected to hoisting Sri Lanka's national flag and singing the national anthem at the two day sports event, police said.

The function, scheduled to start at 9.30 a.m. began late sans the Sri Lankan national flag and anthem.

The tournament was organised by the Sri Lanka Inter District Netball Association.
Heavy rain greeted the special guests when they were garlanded and were being escorted into the sports ground. The events started after the Chief Guest lit the ceremonial flame.

Although it was announced that 32 teams from 25 districts were to participate in the tournament, only 18 teams turned up for the event.

Teams from Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu districts did not attend.

Malay war heroes remembered

'Persatuan Melayu Sri Lanka', the Sri Lanka Malay Association which is the oldest Malay Association in Sri Lanka, conducted the recital of 'Kathm-ul-Qur'an' and 'Ratheebal-Haddad' for the fifth successive year at their Headquarters, 'Padang' Colombo recently under the auspices of its Religious Affairs Committee, in memory of (all Malay officers and men of the three Armed Forces, the Police and the STF who sacrificed their lives in the defence of their motherland.

Besides inviting family members, who were present in large numbers together with members from sister Malay associations, the Organizing Committee this year had the privilege of having as a special guest the High Commissioner for Malaysia in Sri Lanka, Her Excellency Madam Nazirah Binti Hussain who was present throughout the proceedings and was introduced to the family members.

The Sri Lanka Malay Association first conducted this religious ceremony in the year 2000 during the Presidency of Sdr Chone Buckman an Ex-Serviceman himself. Since then it has been continued uninterrupted annually.

Representatives from the three services, the Police and the STF were also invited. At the conclusion of the recitals, a religious discourse was given by Moulavi M. Faiz, Sectional Head of Zahira College, Colombo which was followed by congregational Luhr prayers and lunch was served to all present.

The Religious Affairs Committee of .Persatuan Melayu Sri Lanka- Insha Allah- hopes to conduct this religious ceremony annually on the first Sunday of every October.

Enter India, in a big way to check Prabha by Keith Noyahr

LTTE's Eastern Regional Commander Karuna broke away from the organization roughly a year after the LTTE pulled out of talks, quickly exposed Prabhakaran's duplicity and preparatory plans to get back to war and last week his recently formed party Tamileela Makkal Viduthalai Puligal (TMVP) teamed up with another party to throw its biggest challenge.

As I said in my column last Saturday, the coming together of Karuna's TMVP and the Eelam National Democratic Liberation Front (ENDLF) to form the Tamileela Ikkiya Viduthalai Munnani (TIVM) could be the handiwork of the Indian Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).

"Could it be that the latest news of the ENDLF joining hands with Karun's party to form the TIVM was the work of RAW?" this column questioned last Saturday. The column was laced with Prabhakaran's own previous observations about the ENDLF and the Tristar group in the late eighties.

A couple of days back an India Abroad News Service (IANS) moved a story on the lines that "an unexpected development has sparked speculation that India might be getting involved again in Sri Lanka's Tamil politics, for the first time since the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi."

The IANS report was referring to Karuna teaming up with the ENDLF, a militant group-turned-political party that for long has been based primarily in India.

Quoting ENDLF sources, IANS reported that the group made its first face-to-face contact with Karuna in May, the same month when a new government took office in New Delhi.

"By then Prabhakaran had crushed Karuna's revolt and the latter had disappeared from public view. The ENDLF remained in touch with him but these contacts were kept under wraps. Apparently ENDLF representatives also went to Europe and Canada to activate those in the Tamil diaspora opposed to the LTTE,"

"Could all these have taken place without the knowledge of New Delhi?" the report queried.

"You may not believe it, but the fact is we acted on our own," the report said quoting an ENDLF source.

"If the statement is true, it must be a bizarre truth. If not, then it only means that New Delhi is sick and tired of the unending killings that plague Sri Lanka despite the Norway-brokered ceasefire of February 2002 and has decided to play a pro-active role in the island's Tamil politics, even if indirectly," the report said.

ENDLF general secretary R. Rajarattinam alias Mano Master, who was a minister in the India-backed North East Provincial Council and now lives in the Tamil Nadu capital Chennai, made the surprise declaration of the two parties coming together.

"The decision by Karuna, whose whereabouts are unknown, to throw his lot with ENDLF has led to speculation that New Delhi might be shedding its reluctance of well over a decade and indirectly taking on the LTTE," said the IANS story.

When the troops withdrew in March 1990, scores of ENDLF guerrillas and their family members retreated to India. They set up a camp, with some help from Indian authorities, at Malkangiri, a tribal-dominated area in Orissa. Even now ENDLF maintains the Orissa camp and another one in Salem in Tamil Nadu. It also runs a school for Sri Lankan Tamil children in Karnataka.

The ENDLF-Karuna statement is very harsh on the LTTE and equally critical of the Norwegian facilitators and the Scandinavian-manned Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission.

The sudden urgency by New Delhi to finalise the Indo-Lanka Defence Co-operation Agreement should be seen in this backdrop where the new party TIVM has sought in its maiden statement to strip the LTTE of its assumed status of sole representatives of the Tamil people.

This is despite the LTTE demanding from the new Freedom Alliance government that it be recognized as the sole representatives of the Tamils. Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar granted this status by implication during an overseas trip.

The second important aspect brought out in the TIVM statement is that the Tigers could not be allowed to rule the north and east. This again is curious as the government and the LTTE are expected to begin negotiations on setting up a modified ISGA with Tiger dominance.

In the same vein the statement sought the help of the international community to curb Tiger activities while all Tamils were urged to join hands to "Unite and fight against the terrorism, which exists in the name of liberating the Tamils."

The statement also says, "Tamils will tolerate no more the prolonging treacherous and barbarian act of Pirabakaran."

If New Delhi is backing this line then it could follow that it would also be keen in having Prabhakaran dead or alive.

The killing of the Tamilnadu forest brigand Veerappan, responsible for some 120 killings and who eluded the authorities for 15 long years, must have sent a chill down the spine of Prabhakaran. The LTTE has been responsible for the killing of some 1200 Indian soldiers during the IPKF times while its leader is wanted for the killing of former Indian Premier Gandhi. A request for Prabhakaran's extradition may also be made.

India, which did not want to be seen scuttling the peace talks, at the height of the peace process is aware that talks have been stalled more than one and a half years and the peace process it self has come to a standstill.

In fact Norwegian Foreign Minister Jan Peterson made a serious comment when he met LTTE's Political Wing Leader S.P. Thamilselvan.

"Conflict situation in many other locations demand priority and we are afraid that the Sri Lankan peace process may be pushed to the backyard, hence both the parties should act with circumspection and retain the already given support without being diverted elsewhere," said Peterson weeks after Oslo Special Envoy Erik Solheim said all parties were frustrated over the peace process. Earlier Deputy Foreign Minister Vidar Helgessen said the patience of the international community was being tested and its interests could be diverted away from the Sri Lankan peace process.

The JHU brought a motion in Parliament yesterday to call off the Norwegian facilitation, but the LTTE-backed TNA demanded an English translation preventing a vote being taken. The matter would come up at the next session.

The SLFP stalwarts too must be thinking aloud how they and the JVP bitterly criticized Norwegian facilitation during the UNF regime not too long ago.

The JVP continued to accuse the FA government of appeasing LTTE by releasing LTTE prisoners of war in exchange for two Sinhala home guards.

Meanwhile, the team of Indian defence experts left Sri Lanka on Thursday after consultations with their counterparts and the draft with the changes proposed would be carried to the Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee whose clearance is required. The Cabinet Committee on security will also have to clear it at that end while President Chandrika Kumaratunga the Defence Minister will have to do the honours here. While the agreement was mooted during the UNF times, India got miffed that the former administration got cold feet as the Tigers made clear its opposition. President Kumaratunga who rushed a defence team to India to pursue it after taking over the defence portfolio lost interest after the FA came to office. This sudden interest could be attributed to the Indian zeal and in the face of the stalemate President Kumaratunga was unable to resist it but must ensure that it would be in the interests of the country.

Ms. Kumaratunga, who was down with a bout of flu this week, is expected to visit New Delhi in the first week of November. It is unclear whether she would use this visit to sign the agreement.

That the LTTE deceived India and baulked on the Congress Party initiated 1987 Indo-Lanka Peace Accord is another grouse the party has with the terrorist organization even though the Congress-led UPA government would find itself in an embarrassing position given its other allies, including DMK.

If there was one Sri Lankan cabinet minister who backed this accord to the hilt it was Gamini Lionel Dissanayake whose 10th death anniversary falls today.

Incidentally, the Fifth Memorial Lecture in honour of the slain co-architect of President Chandrika Kumaratunga's Peace Package, Dr. Neelan Thiruchelvam was delivered recently.

The two leaders were assassinated by the LTTE as so was the co-signatory of the Accord, Former Indian Premier Rajiv Gandhi while President Kumaratunga escaped death at the hands of an LTTE suicide bomber.

The Tigers also snuffed the life out of President Ranasinghe Premadasa and former National Security Minister, Lalith Athulathmudali who opposed the Indo-Lanka Agreement to varying degrees.

The organization killed moderate Tamils opposed to the organization in the immediate aftermath of Indo-Lanka Accord, during talks with President Premadasa and finally during the 34 months of the ongoing Norwegian facilitated cease-fire.

These are strategic killings no doubt making history repeat itself in style.

The whole wide world is now beginning to wonder what type of freedom fighters the Tigers are to kill members of their own community after forcing themselves as the sole representatives.

The Indians realized it long ago and the statement by the official spokesman of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs on September 20, 1987 roughly a month after the Accord is very clear.

"We are deeply shocked and distressed at the recent incidents of violence which resulted in the deaths of over 100 Tamils…The killings of innocent Tamils … have been unfortunately engineered by the LTTE which after the brutal killings has now undertaken what it claims to be a peaceful Gandhian movement. " He was referring to a fast unto death undertaken by some Tigers including Thileepan.

Like the killings of Tamils, history is also repeating itself with the provocations engineered by the Tigers. On September 24, 1987 the External Affairs spokesman during a press briefing accused the Tigers of using women and children as a front behind which its supporters hurled rocks at the Indian soldiers.

Isn't this similar to the attack on the Kanchirankudah STF camp at Akairapattu that prompted a violent response, or the "Belts" episode at Manipay where clashes erupted after a lightning orchestrated civilian protest. These are just two of the many such incidents during this bout of the truce.

In the immediate post 1987 accord the LTTE had maintained that it was not a signatory to the agreement but this time its leader Velupillai Prabhakaran himself signed the February 22, 2002 Cease-fire Agreement and could not wriggle out of responsibility for the many violations.

What about the third important issue: the interim administration demand which is the main reason for the Tiger withdrawal from talks. Let's look at the parallel then.

"Mr. Pirabhakaran agreed to the composition of the Interim Administrative Council.." stated the agreed minutes of a meeting held on September 28, 1987 between the Tiger delegation headed by the LTTE Supremo and the Indian delegation led by Mr. Dixit. The council was to have a Chief Administrator (one of three persons nominated by the organization, 5 LTTE members, 2 TULF members, 2 Muslims and 2 Sinhalese, totaling 12.

A few days (03) later, Prabhakaran began on October 1 to attack Sinhalese civilians in Trincomalee. There were nearly 200 bodies of men, women, and children either charred, dismembered or bullet-ridden strewn all over the North and East. And this was while the armed forces were in the barracks.

The LTTE uses violence to distract attention when it is tied down to a commitment and wriggles out of it.

The LTTE's pattern of befriending leaders, tricking them and later eliminating them continued from Gandhi through Premadasa but appears to have stopped mid-stream after a failed attempt on Kumaratunga's life.

The organization continued its pattern of befriending the former UNF government but withdrew from talks this time with a valid excuse demanding an interim administration to channel funds and oversee development/ resettlement in the former war-torn North and East.

If this was its sole aim why did the organization pitch its demand (Interim Self Governing Authority) so high to make any compromise seem impossible?

Also, what is the logic in stating that the sole basis for talks should be ISGA alone and no other document should be tabled before talks commence? After all the LTTE should be reminded that ISGA was only a set of counter proposals to two sets of UNF government proposals for an interim council which the organization rejected. The UNF had earlier said its third set of proposals the July 17 Discussion Paper should along with ISGA be discussed.

The LTTE which says "ISGA only" however has said the document was not a rigid one and the organization was flexible. But the LTTE was not willing to accommodate any other document as the basis for negotiations but was willing to consider government criticisms and proposals at talks.

As I said before, the time spent on splitting hairs for an interim administration should have been spent for setting some effective structure within the law to usher in development.

Yet another LTTE abduction by Senaka de Silva

Suspected LTTE cadres abducted yet another youth on Saturday afternoon bringing the total number of abductions during the week to seven in the Batticaloa district.

OIC Valachchenai police K.A. Dharmawardena said the latest victim a 16 year-old following a course at the Valachchenai Vocational Training Centre run by the national Youth Service Council was abducted at gun point by two suspected LTTE cadres who were riding two motorcycles as the victim was proceeding to a nearby boutique.
The abductors, according to eyewitnesses had come from the direction of Valachchenai town and they had taken the victim on one of the motorcycles in the same direction.

Inspector Dharmawardena said the victim, a Muslim of Kalkudah would have been taken to one of their camps in the region.

Three cops and 2 civilians in alleged extortion racket

Cinnamon Gardens police caught two police sergeants attached to the security of former Interior Minister John Amaratunga on Friday morning along with another police constable and two civilians when they were allegedly attempting to extort Rs.10,000,000 from a wealthy Nugegoda businessman near the Vihara Maha Devi park.

The modus operandi of the team had been to send the two civilians from Ragala and Gampola as brokers to prospective wealthy victims offering them information about fabulous hidden treasures in return for cash.

Once a gullible businessman comes with the money he is robbed by the gang led by two sergeants and the constable attached to Wattala police. Thereafter victims are scared to go to police as they themselves had gone after something illegal.
OIC Cinnamon Gardens Police K.A. Jayashantha who led the police team that nabbed the five suspects said the robber team had earlier successfully robbed three others in a similar manner at Wellampitiya, Wellawatte, and Peradeniya, each job netting them Rs. 5,000,000. Based on the success of the earlier operations they had raised the stake to Rs.10,000,000 in the latest heist. But police suspect that there could be more victims of this gang.

The suspects were produced before Colombo magistrate court No.11 on Saturday and remanded till November 05 pending an identification parade