by Wimalanath Weeraratne
Recently, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Ven. Bengamuwe Nalaka Thera who went to a great extent to safeguard the Rajapaksa dynasty during the previous regime and even after its great fall from glory; came out with two startling revelations in the light of Government announcing plans to curb underworld activities.
“Many leading underworld figures, who fled the country during my rule, have returned to the country at the behest of government politicians. Many have been brought back by ruling United National Front for Good Governance (UNFGG) politicians,” said the former President, who has had no connections with the underworld whatsoever.
“They were brought to engage in canvassing election work during the run-up to 2015 General Election. No one dared enter the country during my time, and we put a full stop to underworld activities,” retorted Rajapaksa.
Last year, the beleaguered Head of State said that those who were in custody and were granted bail didn’t even want to leave the prisons during his time, but had all the freedom to engage in election campaigning with UNP politicians.
One might ask as to how Rajapaksa would know what organized gangsters feared and what they preferred!
Underworld is patriotic!
Ven. Bengamuwe Nalaka Thera’s revelation is even more startling.
“We know well about the dearly beloved (Pathalaye Pinvathun) members of the underworld. Although we do not associate with them, they truly love this country. Although they may engage in illegal activities and may even kill each other, they are a lot that loves this country. So if this government works against them, it will meet its end from no one else but the underworld itself,” Ven. Thera had the audacity to say.
If organized gangsters are so patriotic, it is a grave loss that Nalaka Thera is not associating these ‘patriots’! Also he must not forget that the people of Sri Lanka that sent all-powerful, almighty Rajapaksa regime home, still has the power to send the UNFGG home through democratic means, and they do not need the backing of the underworld to bring an end to an undesirable regime!
Nalaka Thera’s argument is that the underworld should be safeguarded as they are patriotic. According to him, Maithripala Sirisena-Ranil Wickremesinghe duo are the only two that do not love this country.
Certainly there should be a reason why Mahinda does not want the underworld activities curbed.
The reason may be that Mahinda is loved and adored by his beloved Pathalaye Pinvathun, members of the underworld. He would have wanted activities of Former Chairman of Tangalle Pradeshiya Sabha and well-known underworld kingpin of the South – Sampath Vidanapathirana – hindered. Sampath and three other defendants have been sentenced to 20 years rigorous imprisonment for killing British aid worker Khuram Sheikh and raping his girlfriend at a resort in Tangalle way back in 2011.
Another underworld boss of South – Saruwa Liyanage Sunil – the infamous Chairman of the Akuressa Pradeshiya Sabha – who is said to have thrown a party after raping 100 girls – would have not wanted his activities curbed. To certain quarters of the MR faction, it was no secret that Saruwa Sunil was in fact a pimp who supplied women to the highest echelons of the Rajapaksa dynasty.
Rajapaksa would not have wanted his cohorts, confidants and henchmen such as former Deraniyagala Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman Anil Champika ‘Atha Kota’, who operated a ‘rape centre’ and torture chamber in Noori Tea Estate and went to the extent of killing Noori Estate superintendent Nihal Perera for refusing to adhere to the gang’s demands; be hindered in their criminal activities. These show to what extent Rajapaksa would go to safeguard beloved Pathalaye Pinvathun, members of the underworld.
Rajapaksa’s underworld links exposed
The Sunday Leader has continuously exposed the evil nexus that exists between Rajapaksa and the underworld. (See Amare, I’m Here – MR- http://www.thesundayleader.lk/2012/06/24/amare-im-here-mr/)
“The chief suspect in the Katuwana shooting incident, Gigana Gamage Amarasiri alias Julampitiye Amare, has for decades been rubbing shoulders with politicians in the Hambantota area and received political patronage to evade arrest for many crimes committed in the area.
“The political powers wielded by Amare because of his alleged affiliations to the First Family had prevented the police from arresting him even with five warrants being issued for his arrest.”
Reports that emerged of Amare following the murder have incriminated President Mahinda Rajapaksa of having links with him. The link between the two first surfaced in 2002 when Rajapaksa was the Opposition Leader of parliament.
Amare has been accused of murders, raping women and extortion in various parts of the Hambantota District. He was also the leader of the coup that took place in the Tangalle Prison in July 2002 during the tenure of the UNF government.
Rajapaksa and 2002 Tangalle Prison Riots
On July 1, 2002, prisoners in the Tangalle remand prison headed by Amare had taken jail guards hostage, broken the armoury in and attempted to escape. The prisoners had taken 12 T56 assault rifles and ammunition as well.
The government deployed Army, Navy, and the Air Force to Tangalle to quell the situation and curfew was imposed in the Tangalle police area.
However, when Amare and the inmates, who had carried out the coup, were asked to come out for a discussion with government officials led by the Internal Security Minister, Amare had refused to come out until Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa had spoken to him. When the prison officials had informed Amare that Rajapaksa was also present at the discussion table at the prison canteen, he had demanded to see Rajapaksa before opening the door.
Rajapaksa had then walked up to the main door of the prison and knocked on it calling for Amare. “Amare, I’m here, come out without any fear – Amare, mama evith inne, baya nethiva eliyata enna, Rajapaksa was quoted as telling Amare in the Lankadeepa edition of July 2, 2002.
It was then that Amare had come out of the prison to participate in the discussion with the government officials. Rajapaksa had reportedly played a key role in resolving the Tangalle prison issue.
Be that as it may, Amare’s statement to the prison official that he would only come out once he sees Rajapaksa, indicates a long standing link between the underworld figure and the former President. Since then Amare has been safeguarded by the Rajapaksas.
I was in prison and you came to visit me
Last week, Bodu Bala Sena General Secretary, controversial monk Ven. Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thera visited Colombo National Hospital to invoke blessings and tie a pirith noola on the wrist of underworld gangster Dematagoda Chaminda who was injured when he was shot at while returning to the Welikada prisons in a prison bus. Dematagoda Chaminda, an accused in the Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra’s murder, was visited by 11 bhikkhus led by Gnanasara Thera.
I was in prison, and ye came unto me…. Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. (St. Matthew 25 : 36 & 40)
Christians are taught that caring for prisoners is equivalent to caring for Christ and all main religions have similar teachings. Although prison ministries had existed in many countries and Sri Lanka too had priests from all religions, Sri Lanka has seen militant VIP monks visiting prisons not to check on the wellbeing of ordinary prisoners but to visit VVIP prisoners!
According to Fifth Protocol on General Assembly in Bangkok, ‘organized crime’ is ‘an enterprise of group of persons who engage in illegal activities and continue doing them, and its primary purpose is generating profits irrespective of its boundaries.’
Howard Abadinsky defines ‘Organized crime’ as a nonideological enterprise involving a number of persons in close social interaction, organized on a hierarchical basis, with at least three levels/ranks, for the purpose of securing profit and power by engaging in illegal and legal activities. Positions in the hierarchy and positions involving functional specialization may be assigned on the basis of kinship or friendship, or rationally assigned according to skill. The positions are not dependent on the individuals occupying them at any particular time. Permanency is assumed by the members who strive to keep the enterprise integral and active in pursuit of its goals. It eschews competition and strives for monopoly on an industry or territorial basis. There is a willingness to use violence and/or bribery to achieve ends or to maintain discipline. Membership is restricted, although nonmembers may be involved on a contingency basis. There are explicit rules, oral or written, which are enforced by sanctions that include murder.
There is no generally accepted definition of organized crime. The Organized Crime Control Act of 1970 of the United States fails to define organized crime – a number of attributes have been identified by law enforcement agencies and researchers as indicative of the phenomenon. These attributes have a practical dimension: the attributes provide a basis for determining if a particular group of criminals constitutes organized crime, and therefore, needs to be approached in a way different from the way one would approach terrorists or groups of conventional criminals.
The Onus on Maithri-Ranil
Even though Rajapaksa and many of his cohorts, confidants and henchmen might oppose, Maithripala Sirisena-Ranil Wickremensinghe administration must take all possible measurers to eliminate the underworld and organized crime lest it becomes an incurable cancer to our next generations.
Underworld Kingpins Who Had Close Links To Politicians
Gonawala Sunil, one of the earliest criminal gang leaders in Sri Lankan underworld, allegedly had many links with the UNP government at that time. He was involved in the massacre of 53 prisoners at Welikada Prison in 1983 and the raping and killing of a 14-year-old girl in 1982. He was convicted of the murder, and was serving in prison when he was famously released on a presidential pardon given by President J. R. Jayewardene just before the 1982 presidential election. Subsequently, he was made an all-island Justice of the peace (JP). He had also been the bodyguard of the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Ranil Wickremesinghe, who was the Minister of Education of the J. R. Jayewardene government at that time. Sunil was killed at his residence by two assassins in 1987.
Arambawelage Don Upali Ranjith alias Soththi Upali
He was said to be a close ally of B. Sirisena Cooray, the Minister of Housing and Construction of Premadasa government. Police officers allegedly have addressed him as ‘sir’ during that time. He served as a reserve sub inspector at one time and was included in the UNP executive body by President Premadasa. In 1997, a presidential commission appointed by President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga concluded that Upali was directly involved in the assassination of Lalith Athulathmudali. Before the trial against him was finished, he was killed by a rival gang led by Dhammika Amarasinghe on December 17, 1998.
Usliyanage Chinthaka Nalin Perera alias Chinthaka Amarasinghe
Amarasinghe was considered as the arch rival of Soththi Upali, when he was at the height of his power. Also involved in numerous other murders, he gunned down Malu Nihal and Cheena – who were major henchmen of Upali, at Gothamipura in March 1993. It was alleged that Amarasinghe was supported by politician affiliated to People’s Alliance. Chinthaka Amarasinghe hails from a crime family, with his uncle Noel Amarasinghe being the chief suspect in the Kollupitiya Tavern robbery case in 1966. He was killed at Thotalanga by a rival gang led by Kalu Ajit in 1996.
Brother of a former underworld stalwart Chinthaka Amarasinghe, Dhammika Amarasinghe is considered the most feared Sri Lankan underworld figure, ever. He was wanted for at least 50 murders and 17 bank robberies during the 1990s to 2004. It was reported that Dhammika had lost 16 of his family members due to clashes with rival underworld gangs. He was a close associate of press baron who was also a Colombo District MP. In 1999. The MP, when he was the President of the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka, facilitated Dhammika to visit the Cricket World Cup held in England in the fake name of Buddhika Priyashantha Godage under a forge passport. This sparked a huge controversy in Sri Lankan political arena. He was also associated with a present Kandy District UPFA MP. Dhammika was killed on January 9, 2004 inside the court room no.6 of Colombo Magistrate by an Army deserter named Siriwardanage Chaminda Udaya Kumara. It was speculated that he was killed during the hearing of court cases in order to conceal the conduct of several high-ranking politicians.
Ajith Dhammika alias Kalu Ajith
Kalu Ajith was involved in killing Chinthaka Amarasinghe in 1996. He was killed by Chinthaka’s brother, Dhammika on July 16, 1997.
Atapattu Hewasam Liyanage Don Wasantha Dharmasiri alias Kaduwela Wasantha
Kaduwela Wasantha was a major criminal gang leader during the 1990s. He and five other gang members were killed on Wesak poya day, May 26, 2002, by a rival gang led by Karate Dhammika.
Sanjeewa Perera alias Baddegane Sanjeewa
Sanjeewa worked as a police sergeant at the President’s Security Division (PSD) of President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga and as Kumaratunga’s private body guard when she was the Chief Minister of Western Province. He was accused of a number of murders and assaults including the murder of Satana tabloid Editor Rohana Kumara, assault of Rukantha and Chandralekha Gunathilake, assassination of Kumar Ponnambalam, burning the house of actress Anoja Weerasinghe and attack on The Sunday Leader editor Lasantha Wickrematunge in 1998. Sanjeewa was killed by a mob led by Dhammika Amarasinghe on November 2, 2001, allegedly under the orders of the former Minister of Defense, General Anuruddha Ratwatte.
Key suspect of the assassination of the controversial politician Kumar Ponnambalam. Moratu Saman was initially a close ally of Dhammika Amarasinghe but eventually fell out with him. Amarasinghe attempted to kill him in 2002. He was killed by a rival gang led by Thoppi Chaminda in 2003.
Koswattage Donald Nihal Wickremasinghe alias Nawala Nihal
Nihal was involved in several murders and extortion rackets over the years. He killed the prominent underworld figure, Kalu Ajit and two of his henchmen at Atthidiya. He is considered as the godfather of Colombo underworld during his high time. He distributed money among the poor. He was given protection by many corrupt police officers in Welikada and Nugegoda Divisions. Nawala Nihal was abducted and killed by a gang led by his mistress Renuka Wasanthi.
Kitulgamaralalage Ajith Wasantha alias Wambotta
It was reported that 3 of Wambotta’s sisters were allegedly raped, tortured and killed by a rival family. This had led to a series of revenge killings with more than 25 of the rival family members being killed and their property destroyed. He was wanted for 10 murders, extortion and kidnapping. He had allegedly started his life by selling vegetables at Sooriyawewa, hence the name Wambotta (Brinjal). He was killed by a rival gang named ‘Ratnaweera gang’ in April 2006.
Jayakody Arachchige Ruwan Perera alias Olcott
Hailed from Magazine Road, Borella in the Colombo city, He was linked to more than 28 killings, several robberies and abductions in Colombo and its suburbs. He earned a lot of fortune through drug trade, especially heroin. He owned two luxury residences in Colombo and Kurunegala. Olcott was said to be involved in the LTTE’s failed assassination attempt of President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga along with Thel Bala and Kimbulaela Guna, two other notorious gang leaders. He disappeared from Sri Lanka after that and lived in Tamil Nadu for more than a decade. He returned to Sri Lanka in 2009. His mansion was stormed by Special Task Force soldiers in September 2010. He was arrested and subsequently killed by the soldiers when he tried to grab the weapon of an officer.
Kamal Dammalarachchi alias Dematagoda Kamal
Dematagoda Kamal was involved in at least 15 murders including killing Dushyantha Senevirathne – the Leader of Opposition in the Galle Municipal Council. He was killed when he allegedly tried to throw a bomb at the Police.
Sinniah Gunasekeran alias Kimbula-Ela Guna
Kimbula-Ela Guna was a major drug dealer in Sri Lanka. He was involved in LTTE activities also. He took part in LTTE’s failed attempt to kill President Chandrika Kumaratunga in 1999. After that, he fled Sri Lanka and is currently living in Tamil Nadu, South India. It is alleged that he had monitored and conducted the drug trafficking activities in Sri Lanka from there. In 2008, he was arrested by Tamil Nadu Police.
Thel Baala was a prominent drug dealer and gang leader around Bloemendhal garbage dump in Sri Lanka during late 1990s and early 2000s. He was shot dead by a rival gang led by Prince Collom.
Prince Collom alias Prince or “ Ayya”
Collom was involved in various murders in the Kotahena and Grandpass areas. His primary operating area was around Bloemendhal garbage dump. Collom was killed by a rival gang in 2007.
M.K. Imtiaz alias Anamalu Imtiaz
Anamalu Imtiaz was involved in at least 39 murders, including contracted killings. He was also heavily involved in other areas of crime, including extortion and drug dealing. He operated in Maligawatte, and was kidnapped and killed by an unknown rival gang on July 9, 2009.
Gampola Vidanelage Samantha Kumara alias Wele Suda
Wele Suda is the biggest international drug dealer that was brought into justice so far. He was arrested in Pakistan and brought to Sri Lanka on February 14, 2015 for allegedly obtaining an amount of Rs. 170 million by trafficking drugs.
(Source – Internet)