9th February 1997

LTTE investigators become UNP suspects

By Our Police correspondent

Going back to the late 1970's one would recall the name of an Inspector Bastianpulle who was in charge of the "TULF desk "at the Criminal Investigations Department.The "TULF desk" was to monitor the activities of Tamil parties and their politicians. After the assassination Jaffna Mayor Alfred Duraiappah, Inspector Bastianpulle arrested some Tamil youths who were responsible for the alleged killing.

The inquiry was held in Colombo. TULF politicians defended these young accused. Inspector Bastianpulle was singled out for having framed these juveniles, who were just out of school, with the heinous crime of killing Mr. Duraiappah. If there is one name that befouls the atmosphere of this court, it is the name of a person called Bastianpulle. Not even in the torture camps of Belsen was there a criminal like Bastianpulle. His methods of torture were such that even Hitler would look like a saint it was said.

Mr. Bastianpulle was an exceptionally good officer. He got the greatest satisfaction by doing his duty. He knew that the TULF was creating a Frankenstein's monster by whipping the emotions of Tamil youths. He was one of the first to see the transformation of a non-violent struggle into a violent one. By sheer dint of hard work and the experience he had gained by research into Tamil ethos, and by interrogating hundreds of suspects, he knew by questioning a Tamil suspect whether he was involved in any illegal activities which concern the security of the nation or not.

For the militant Jaffna youth, Mr. Bastianpulle was a big obstacle. They set about his eventual demise with cunning expertise. Information was leaked to him about PLOTE leader Uma Maheswaran's hideout. in Murukkan in the Vavuniya jungles. He was lured there ambushed and his body sliced and chopped. The culture of the Jaffna youth, developed by vitriolic speeches of their political leaders alienated them from tolerance and other virtues nurtured by their Hindu culture for thousands of years. The fiery image of vengeance had crept into their souls, seeking to justify their crime with the cry of self-determination and liberation. Mrs. Bastianpulle could not believe such a crime could be perpetrated on her husband. She could not live in Sri Lanka and left thoroughly dejected to Brunei. One of the earliest investigations of the anti-terrorist movement was lost to the nation.

From a bunch of juvenile delinquents and small-time smugglers, the youth movement in Jaffna developed into a terrorist organisation aiming to establish an independent homeland.

The movements proliferated and the premier movement, the LTTE, became one of the most feared terrorist organisation's in the world. Its Intelligence agency was so developed that it infiltrated into many government departments, ministries, the armed forces and even to the Presidential Palace. It is able to manoeuvre its operations with great dexterity. It has key men in important positions. These men are used by the LTTE so as to get them to operate without their knowing that they are carrying the brief of the LTTE.

The innumerable human rights organisations and other NGOs fall prey to these machinations. The classic example is the appointment of Mr. Vasantharajah as the Chairman of the Rupavahini Corporation. The media are infiltrated to such an extent that most media men without their knowledge have become a propaganda machine of the LTTE. When Rajiv Gandhi was killed, a Christian Magazine carried an article and wrote a tear jerker about Rajiv and said "Behind any or all of them, however, it must be remembered lurks the hand of United States militarism hell-bent on the destabilisation of India".

As long as possible the LTTE would use these organisations to obliterate the truth. The gullible will lap the falsehood. Then the Tigers will come back more ferociously and strike again. Though we proclaim from the rooftops that we are winning the war, these incidents clearly show how firmly the Tiger intelligence machinery is implanted in the south and how easily they achieve their ends.

On January 28, 1997 state run Daily News in its provincial edition had as its lead story on the front page "Top LTTEer arrested at Thandikulam Ñ Mission was to reconnoitre movements of VIPs". At about 7.30 pm, this story which was a major scoop, was removed from the city and the late city editions. . The next day the Island, the Divaina and the Lankadeepa carried the same story. The Daily News neither carried a correction nor apologised to the provincial reader for publishing an inaccurate story.

The story linked the killing of Lalith Athulathmudali with the LTTE. It reported that one Kauseelan had been arrested and he had confessed to the authorities that Ragunathan, the alleged assassin of Lalith Athulathmudali (according to the police) had confessed to him that he (Ragunathan) had gone to a meeting held in Kotahena to assassinate Lalith, and had failed to accomplish his mission on that day. Immediately afterwards the investigating officers attached to the commission brought down Kauseelan to Colombo and he testified before the Commission and recanted his confession and told the Commission that he had made the earlier statement at the behest of two police officers and named these two officers The Crimes Detective Bureau-CDB recording statements of LTTErs confessing to the murder of the late Lalith Athulathmudali and then the very same suspects retracting these statements at the Commission became a paradoxical scenario.

What followed was even more sensational.The transfer of CDB boss Lionel Gunathilaka, and the interdiction of M. M. Nilabdeen and Sub-Inspector Jeyaratnam with immediate effect.

"This is unbelievable," one very senior police officer said "The men who saved the leaders from being executed by the LTTE are interdicted. This can only happen in a country like Sri Lanka. Nilabdeen has an impeccable track record. If not for him, you and I may not be among the living," he continued. "If you want more details, ask DIG Kotakadeniya."

Mr. Kotakadeniya said, "As soon as this government came into office I was posted as DIG Colombo. I had information about the manner in which the LTTE was planning to attack Colombo and cripple the economy by attacking economic targets. I had a plan to subvert the LTTE. From the time I became the DIG, some people were interested in removing or transferring Mr. Gunathilaka and Mr. Nilabdeen from the CDB. I found that it was a plan to subvert my strategy. I suspected that the LTTE was behind this. I submitted a report to the President and prevented this. You can have a thousand policemen, You can have ten thousand soldiers to fight a war; but you cannot find more than a few handful of officers who are good at investigating the LTTE. It is a fact that we have only one or two officers who by their vast experience mastered the finer art of interrogating LTTE suspects. Every one in the Department will agree that the best person amongst them is Chief Inspector Nilabdeen. During one of our operations we arrested one "Muhunthan". As usual he said that he has come to Colombo to go abroad. He had applied for a passport. We even recovered his application from the Department. After interrogation most of the persons arrested were released. "Muhunthan" was first interrogated by S.I. Jeyaratnam, and then by Nilabdeen," DIG Kotakadeniya said "This officer has a knack of getting around hard-core terrorists. It is naive to believe that by the use of third degree methods hard-core terrorists would relent and regurgitate their plans to the police. They have taken a vow of loyalty to Prabhakaran and to the cause of Eelam, only immense interrogating skill, procured by vast experience will help get them to confess," another senior police officer said.

The masterplan of the LTTE to assassinate President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, was slowly extracted by S.I. Nilabdeen. The revelations were chilling. The LTTE had decided to attack "Temple Trees" with a crack commando unit consisting of 75 to 100 cadres. If this fails the Presidential convoy was to be attacked by a male and a female suicide bomber. After these revelations several safe houses were raided and other suspects were arrested. Security at "Temple Trees" was fortified. Special precautions were taken to prevent any suicide bomber coming close to the presidential convoy.

The political drama enacted by the LTTE to destabilise the south and deprive us of any effective political leadership had been drawn from material collected by their sources and evolved out of complicated intelligence gathering and analysis. The tremendous success the LTTE has achieved by committing murder and permitting the credulous to accuse each other of responsibility, has effectively prevented the leaders of the South from having a consensus on who their real enemy is. The enemy of southern political parties apparently are not the LTTE who is striving to emaciate all of them. Intelligence gathering and analysis is so muted in the South that it is the primary concern of the LTTE to exterminate even the minuscule intelligence agents of the police. They have played their political drama so well that through their agents who wield considerable influence with governments they have been successful in transferring DIG Kotakadeniya within about 5 or 6 months of his appointment as DIG Colombo. ASP Wakishta, who was in charge of the anti-terrorist desk at the CID was sent to Vavuniya and SSPs Deva Corea and Neville Wijesinghe were transferred from the NIB to operational areas and finally SSP Lionel Gunathilaka to the Police Headquarters and CI Nilabdeen and S.I. Jeyaratnam were interdicted.

The Central Bank bombing which killed more than 86 persons and seriously injured over 1,200 still reverberates in our minds. What crime did these innocent civilians commit to be the target of such carnage. Many became permanently blind, others lost their limbs. This single incident gives us a chilling glimpse of the LTTE strategy. How many speak or discuss today about what happened on January 31 last year. As a nation of lotus eaters we have forgotten all this but happily enjoy the mockery that is being perpetrated on us to forget the apathetic crisis we are faced with. If one happens to go to Fort the entire grim picture of the bombing of the bank comes to life when one sees the spectacle of the scorched building. It was during the short stint of Mr. Kotakadeniya, as DIG Colombo the police found that a man who was sleeping at Sea Street, was in possession of the ground plan of the Twin Towers. The police officer who found these documents in the possession of this affluent man was Nilabdeen. This would have prevented the terrorist from attacking the Twin Towers but instead they were successful in attacking the Central Bank.

It was the intense interrogation by Nilabdeen of one "Parameshwaran" that a lorry loaded with explosives was found at a Buddhist temple. Mr. Nilabdeen was responsible for the detection of more than 100 kilos of RSD explosives from Wellawatte, when Bambalapitiya police were about to release two suspects who related identical and fully corroborated story of coming to Colombo to go abroad for employment. They had their passports and other documents to prove that they were telling the truth when they said that they have come to go abroad. Almost every terrorist arrested by the armed forces gives the answer they have been trained to give. Most of them say that they intend going abroad, others say that they are following typing classes or following a course at the Open University.

Mr. Nilabdeen was commended for his excellent performance of duty and was promoted to the rank of an Inspector, when he with his assistant sergeant Jeyaratnam cracked the JOC bombing case and the Ranjan Wijeratna assassination case.

Two innocent looking Tamils having their passports and travel documents with a travel agent were arrested. They were later identified as accomplices in the Ranjan Wijeratna murder case. The suicide bomber was one Prem', and was the driver of Dominic, LTTE military wing leader.

Dominic participated at the peace talks with former minister A. C. S. Hameed in Jaffna. The suspects were shown a video clipping of the peace talks held in Jaffna. They identified Prem'. After having studied the movements of Ranjan Wijeratna for a number of months, Pottu Amman found that it was difficult to penetrate Mr. Wijeratna's security cordon to assassinate Mr. Wijeratna. Mr. Wijeratna never minced his words. His views on Tigers were well known. He, unlike President Premadasa was never wooed by the sweet talks of the terrorist. His security was the best in the Island, for though President Premadasa had a better and larger security contingent, he often ignored the strict instructions of those in charge of his security. Prem came to Colombo and the accomplices brought the van laden with explosives and parked it near the pavement of Havelock Road. Later the accomplice walked away and Prem' dutifully detonated the device. The blow had such a devastating effect, that the body of "Prem" had virtually melted away.

Mr. Nilabdeen and Mr. Jeyaratnam were commended by the present government and given the second special promotion, when they found over one hundred kilos of lethal RDS explosives from a safe house. Mr. Nilabdeen was promoted as Chief Inspector and Mr. Jeyaratnam as Sub Inspector. They were given special cash rewards of Rs. 200,000 each for their exceptional investigation skills which led to the recovery of a large cache of explosives. The explosives were to be set off either at the Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation, the new Central Bank at Kotte or at the SLBC. The suspects Nelson and Moses were arrested by the Bambalapitiya police on a routine road check. Every detective who questioned the suspects was convinced that they were kept in detention unlawfully and recommended their release.

Then came Nilabdeen, with a small frame and a slight build and a slight stammer and who absolutely made no impression on any one as Sri Lanka's most experienced Tiger detective. He was able to question the suspects about their village and some prominent people living in that village, and the names of Tigers whose identities are not publicised in South. Gradually the suspects said that he knew one of them. Nilabdeen used his vast repertoire of knowledge of Tiger activists and pinned the suspects. Within a day over one hundred kilos of lethal RSD explosives were recovered from Rasawalli Lane at Wellawatte.

Suddently it came to my mind of those civilians burdened with mundane problems trekking to the Insurance Corporation and a most grisly picture of the Insurance Corporation rocked by a powerful explosive and the entire building a towering inferno. Then I thought of these officers at the CDB who prevented such a colossal damage. In another country they would have been national heroes, venerated by the public and paraded in the streets accompanied by the President. In this country they are interdicted, and are running from place to place, without security for the fear of being shot down by the terrorists.

This is not the first time a conspiracy was hatched to get Nilabdeen and Jeyaratnam interdicted. When Kandiah Lingeswaran confessed to the Police and to the Chief Magistrate Colombo being the main accomplice in the murder of Lalith Athulathmudali the interdiction order which was to be issued was stayed by the IG due to the intervention of Lionel Gunathilaka. This time they have removed Lionel Gunathilaka from the CDB and their mission has been accomplished.

The Government has made no official announcement as to why these senior offices were put on the mat. The only deduction one can come to is that the Government is worried that these men have links to the UNP and some of its strong-men of yesteryear. But one must also remember that there are five VIPs on the LTTE hit list. First is the President; then the Deputy Minister of Defence; Minister of Foreign Affairs; Minister of Justice and the Leader of the Opposition.

The combined efforts of the security forces have so far been successful in frustrating the efforts of the LTTE to eliminate our political leaders Elections are coming, and they are happy hunting grounds for the terrorists.

Therefore anyone who is loyal to the cause of the government must immediately advise the President on the grave danger the nation is facing with these threats looming large and the services of these senior officers in combatting the LTTE in the Colombo city and elsewhere must be weighed in that context

(Next week Mr. Kauseelan, Mr. Lingeswaran and Mr. Sivabalan Barathi who are they and what did they say to the CDB?)

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