Inside Story of How Rishad was Arrested
By a Special Correspondent
It was early yesterday (19) morning that Member of Parliament Rishad Bathiudeen, who had been in hiding for six days, throwing sand in the eyes of the Police, was taken into custody by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) at Dehiwala. Until then no one knew where he had been during those six days and whom he had associated with and where he was hiding.
The reason for this ‘Cops and Robbers’ game, by Rishad, was his misusing State funds, spending Rs 9.5 million for 233 buses to transport to Mannar, on the day of the Presidential Election, people who had been displaced, but were resident in Puttalam at that time, in order to get them to vote.
Subsequent to conducting investigations into this incident and the facts were reported, the Attorney General had given instructions that a case be filed and Rishad Bathiudeen arrested. Accordingly, officers of the Attorney General’s Department and the CID had requested the Fort Magistrate to issue an arrest warrant. On this occasion the Magistrate had said that it was not necessary to issue a warrant, in order to take into custody a person for that type of offence, as he could be arrested without a warrant within the existing legal framework.
When this incident took place, Rishad Bathiudeen had been on his way to Colombo from Puttalam. When he was nearing Madampe, it was mentioned on a news broadcast of the Sooriyan FM radio channel that the CID was getting into action to arrest him according to the facts mentioned in Court.
With that, Rishad realized that what was coming would be no good and he had called a Pradeshiya Sabha member representing his Party, who lived in Madampe, on the phone. Rishad informed this individual to, “bring a vehicle to Madampe as soon as possible.” As planned Rishad alighted from the vehicle he was travelling in and got into the vehicle brought by his colleague and went into hiding. Not only that, he disconnected the mobile phone he had with him too.
CID officers, who had got to know that Rishad Bathiudeen was on his way to Colombo from Puttalam, had set up a plan to pursue his vehicle from some point during the journey. Accordingly, even though they pursued Rishad’s vehicle, when they arrived close to his house in Colombo it was confirmed that Rishad did not get out of the vehicle and as a result the efforts of the officers proved to be in vain.
Then, DIG in charge of the CID Prasad Ranasinghe took steps to deploy six teams to take Rishad into custody. All this was coordinated under the guidance of Director of the CID, Senior Superintendent of Police Nishantha de Soyza.
However, many duty checks were conducted regarding Rishad during the first three days, it was near impossible for the CID teams to find out any information on his whereabouts. Meanwhile, on 17 October the CID had got some information regarding a very close associate of Rishad Bathiudeen. He was the person who was the most closely involved in Rishad’s legal affairs. While his telephone records were being observed the CID discovered that there were an unusual number of telephone calls being received on his mobile phone.
The CID conducted investigations based on the mobile phone data and got to know that he was residing at Wennawatte in Wellampitiya.
He was taken into custody on 17 October evening by the CID officers who were in pursuit of him. Since he was a very close associate of Rishad’s the officers were able to get information, during continuous questioning, so that he was unable to avoid them. Based on this information it was possible to find out some places where Rishad could be found. CID officers were deployed to conduct checking duties in and around these places, according to information that was revealed.
By Sunday (18), it was possible for the CID to restrict to a certain confirmed area the checks and investigations being conducted. The CID discovered that Rishad had initially been living at a place in Kohuwala and based on information, given by his close colleague, they focused their attention on a target in Kalubowila.
What the CID officers, who went to this apartment, did first was to separate the chief householder of the residence, a tuition teacher and his wife, who was a doctor. Officers began questioning these two individuals separately. While the questioning was going on, another team of CID officers commenced a search operation of the apartment. Then they noticed that the DVR system which stored data from the CCTV camera system had been removed.
When the tuition teacher and his doctor wife were questioned relentlessly about this, they appeared to become speechless. The chief householder had then realized that there was no way of escaping unless the truth was revealed. It was from then onwards that he began spewing out everything.
“Rishad was with us on 13, 14 & 15, all three days. Within an hour of his coming here, he requested that the CCTV system be deactivated. It was accordingly that we removed the system.”
However, the tuition teacher did not forget to use his brain to save himself in case he had to face any sort of problem at any time. He had made arrangements to keep the DVR containing CCTV data recorded when Rishad entered the house, at a neighbour’s home. Based on the facts that were revealed, the CID officers were able to take into custody this DVR system.
He revealed further that Rishad who spent three days with them had been taken to Addalachchenai, in Akkaraipattu, by a resident of that area, who was foreign job agency owner. He also revealed that this individual owned a super luxury apartment complex in Dehiwela. He added that this person was very close to Rishad.
Then, the CID teams went in search of this apartment complex. At that time, only three daughters of the foreign job agent were living in that particular apartment. When inquiries were made about their father, the three daughters said that he had left for Addalachchenai in Ampara.
Acting immediately, the CID authorities sent a team to Addalachchenai. They made arrangements, so that the required procedures were in place to minimise the time taken to arrive there.
The CID officers surrounded the Addalachchenai house of Rishad’s friend and were able to corner him. When an inquiry was made regarding Rishad, he said that he was not aware of anything regarding his friend. However, he was not given much time to lie by the CID officers.
The officers were able to drive him into a mental state where the individual was ready to reveal all details.
Accordingly, the correct news about where Rishad was in hiding just came out of his mouth. He said that Rishad was hiding in house at Ebenezer Road, Dehiwala.
Officers including the heads of the CID commenced the final operation to apprehend Rishad. Based on information, that was revealed, that he was hiding in the home of a person named Hakeem, the CID reached this residence at Ebenezer Road at about 3.00 a.m. on Monday.
It did not take long for the CID to locate Hakeem’s house. At 3.15 a.m. on Monday, CID officers knocked on the door of this house. However, much they knocked there was no sign that anyone was open the door. They attempted for a period of 20 minutes after which they realised that no one was going to open the door. The CID officers then said that they were going to break open the door and enter the house. Therefore, by 3.35a.m. the door of the house was opened. It was Rishad’s personal assistant Thameej who opened the door. At that same moment Rishad who had been in a room came out.
“I know that you are in pursuit of me. But I did not think that you would find me like this,” Rishad said looking around.
Then he saw that the Doctor’s husband, the tuition teacher was also there.
“Ah… Sir you are here too? Was it you Sir who led these people to this place?” Rishad asked his friend. By then, the final minute of the operation to apprehend Rishad Bathiudeen was under way. He was arrested at 3.40 a.m. on Monday and put into the jeep and the officers left.
Subsequent to a 6-day operation conducted without considering day or night, Officer in charge of the CID, DIG Prasad Ranasinghe, who led the operation to apprehend Rishad, Director of the CID, Senior Superintendent of Police Nishantha de Soyza and the other officers successfully ended the operation.
The reason for the success of this operation was because officer in charge of the CID, DIG Prasad Ranasinghe and Director Nishantha de Soyza provided leadership to the officers involved, throughout the operation and joined in all the operations, themselves. Finally, this operation concluded, leaving those who alleged that Rishad was throwing sand in the eyes of the Police without an answer as a result of immense, immeasurable commitment of these Police Officers.