Investigate Cardinal’s Charge

CEYLON TODAY | Published: 2:00 AM Jan 15 2022

Last Wednesday, Ceylon Today reported that a hand grenade was found in the premises of All Saints’ Church Punchi Borella on the previous evening (Tuesday) by the STF.

The explosive was found following a tipoff, Police spokesman SSP Nihal Thalduwa is quoted to have had said. Four persons had been arrested in this connection.

On the following day, Thursday, CT reported that approval was given by the Colombo Additional Magistrate Rajindra Jayasuriya to the Colombo Crime Division (CCD) of the Police to question a minor in this regard.

CT quoting Thalduwa alleged that another of those arrested, a 56-year-old, had used this minor to place the grenade In another news item published by CT on Friday, quoting Archbishop of Colombo, Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, said, “If the Police investigations into the detection of a hand grenade at All Saints’ Church, Punchi Borella were being properly conducted, they would realise they were taking legal action against four innocents, including a minor.

“If the investigation team checked the CCTV footage from Tuesday morning and not just from 3 p.m. onwards, they would realise that a suspicious person hand entered the Church premises at around 9:52 a.m.

“The Police are not there to pander to politicians but to enforce law and order. This signified a conspiracy in which the innocent were the victims.”

This is a serious allegation made by the Cardinal and if the Police want to clear their good name, they should address the Cardinal’s grievances immediately, in particular, why had they ignored it in not pursuing the Cardinal’s accusation that there had been a suspicious person in the Church  premises on Tuesday morning and if that person had not been arrested or questioned, why that was not so? Or, if that “suspicious man” is a “security sensitive” person, where nothing of that person could be commented on, why then cannot the Police simply say “no comment?”

And the other allegation made by the Cardinal was that the four persons arrested in this connection were all innocent persons. If that be so, they should file a fundamental rights (FR) petition against the Police.

This newspaper remembers how that after the change of Government in 1994, the new Government in power, headed by President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, who was also the then SLFP leader, wanted to frame the UNP, in particular its late leader President Ranasinghe Premadasa as being behind the killing of National Security Minister and Deputy Defence Minister Lalith Athulathmudali, assassinated by an LTTE gunman, Kandiah Ragunathan, in Colombo, the previous year, ie on 23 April 1993. Ragunathan after killing Athulathmudali committed suicide by swallowing a cyanide capsule.

Nonetheless, Kumaratunga, to serve her political agenda, appointed a Commission headed by a relative, Supreme Court Judge Tissa Dias Bandaranayake, to investigate Athulathmudali’s killing.

To suit the politics of the day, Bandaranayake charged that the three policemen behind the arrest of Athulathmudali’s assassin’s handler, Pedurupillai Jebanesan, who was captured four years later in Vavuniya 1997, was acting on the behest of the UNP. The three police officers were the Director of the now defunct Crime Detective Bureau SSP Lionel Gunatilleke, CI Mohamed Nilabdeen and IP T. Jeyaratnam.

Acting on Bandaranayake’s accusations, then IGP W.B. Rajaguru transferred Gunatilleke to the Police Hospital and interdicted Nilabdeen and Jeyaratnam. 

Not to be outdone, Nilabdeen and Jeyaratnam filed two FR applications against their interdictions before the Supreme Court, which appeals they won, resulting in their reinstatements to the Police Department.

Meanwhile, in regard to the Police investigations, in respect of the recent All Saints’ Church, Punchi Borella, incident, yesterday’s CT, further quoting Archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Ranjith said that he lambasted the IGP and the Police and suggested that they should give up their uniforms and go home, instead of sacrificing innocent people by conducting incomplete investigations. 

CEYLON TODAY | Published: 2:00 AM Jan 15 2022

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