Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is contesting the upcoming General Election as a United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) candidate from the Kurunegala District, pledged to punish even his sons and brothers if they are found to have violated the law. Rajapaksa made this statement during an interview with The Nation conducted at his residence in Tangalle.
Mahinda acknowledging the failure to implement the law against certain persons close to him had cost him in the end. It seems that he was aware of the White Van kidnapping and Killing, Dug dealing, abusing Women, Commissions taken by Ministers for Government contracts and other wrong doings by his former Ministers, his former MP’s, his friends and his relatives but did nothing to stop it. In January before the Presidential election he said he had ‘Files’ of these wrongdoers and blackmailed most of them to support him and got their votes.
Now before the election he says ”I will put all efforts to ensure that the law is upheld. I will not allow anyone to play with the law, whether it is a minister, an MP, a friend, a relative or anyone else. Even if one of my brothers or any of my sons violates the law they will be punished according to the law”.
This only seems to be statement made to gain votes in the forthcoming General Election. Mahinda did NOT say that he will investigate the wrongdoers and punish them because most of his associates will have to be punished and it is claimed that most of the UPFA members want Mahinda back to cover up their wrongdoings.
Mirihana Police while on routine traffic duty around 7:30 p.m. on Monday (20) night stopped a suspicious looking white van. Little did they know that it would become the centre of a conspiracy to assassinate a leading politician. Police found three soldiers, two from an infantry regiment and one from a commando regiment travelling in the van. One soldier was armed with a pistol. The soldiers and the van belonged to the personal security division of Major General Prasanna Silva. The most disturbing fact, however, was that van had a fake number plate and was not using the usual Army number plate.
Minister of Home Affairs, Joseph Michael Perera on Wednesday (22) said the van once belonged to the LTTE. At a media briefing he said, “According to information received so far, the vehicle belonged to the LTTE and it was taken into military custody under the former government under the leadership of former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa.”
The minister also said “Once in custody, the ‘White Van’ vehicle had been used for various (illegal?) activities by Army officers, under the leadership of former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa.” “The white van was seized by the Army from LTTE and it has not been registered. The Army unit was under the former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa. We will reveal what happened to the remaining white vans,” he said.
The Legal Director for the Army Brigadier Ranjith Rajapathirana was quick to confirm that there was no offence relating to the personal firearm of Major General Silva being carried by one of his guards. “Senior officers can assign a person with weapon training to keep his firearm. It is not uncommon. If the Commanding Officers had ordered his guard to carry his weapon, there is no harm. Soldiers need not be in uniform to carry weapons,” Brigadier Rajapathirana said. However, he did not explain why the Army vehicle was driven with a fake number plate.
The Army, however, could not explain why they took so long to respond to the arrest as they could have informed police that Army personnel could carry weapons. The unwarranted delay gave plenty of time for Mahinda group of UPFA to come up with assassination plots, it may be that Gotha and Major General Silva were close friends and a deliberate delay was done to help Mahinda gain Votes in the election.
Mahinda’s associate Wimal Weerawansa asked ”How was this treated with so much attention to detail, when a more serious crime like the white van incident in Mirihana was dismissed? If the four people in the white van were questioned properly, the facts about the mysterious disappearance of cartoonist Prageeth Ekneligoda can also be resolved,” he said.
His statement over the disappearance of Eknaligoda implies that the cartoonist was not only taken away in a white van but he was also linking Major General Prasanna Silva to it, given that the white van was under his care. Weerawansa’s claim that Major General Prasanna Silva, a celebrated war hero, had anything to do with extra judicial killings is a worrying fact.
Rear Admiral S.R. Samaratunga said the ‘white van culture’ existed only prior to 8 January under Rajapaksha government.
The question whether the Army took a security risk by using a vehicle that belonged to the LTTE can only be answered by the former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Wimal Weerawansa. Unless the van is haunted by the LTTE, the insinuation to national security will remain a mystery.
At times of election, many parties adopt certain strategies to sway the voter. For some it is good governance, corruption or economic development, while others harp on national security and issues of communalism and race. Anyway the facts remain distorted and details become irrelevant.
While the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and the Military Police conduct their investigations into the white van, the final question for the reader is why did politicians try to create a fear psychosis over the appearance of a ‘white van’ with a fake number plate?
Not many statistics exists in relation to the ‘white van’ abductions that struck fear in the hearts of many in the past few years. However, a study conducted by a human rights group between October 2011 and February 2012 found that the media reported 29 abductions and three persons reported missing in and around Colombo. A ‘white van’ was connected to every one of the abductions and many have been reported to be still missing.