By Shamindra Ferdinando
Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, MP, yesterday, said that law enforcement and intelligence services were free to inquire into the members of parliament in connection with the ongoing investigations into multiple suicide bombings on Easter Sunday.
Speaker Jayasuriya said so when The Island asked him what would be his response to a spate of allegations directed at some members of parliament, including UNP Colombo District MP Mujibur Rahaman by another UNPer Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, PC, former Justice Minister.
Asked for further clarification of his position, Speaker Jayasuriya emphasized that it wouldn’t be his responsibility to direct law enforcement and intelligence services. The Island sought an
explanation as to why investigating authorities required his prior approval to investigate lawmakers, Speaker Jayasuriya said that though he was informed, in writing of such developments, authorities could go ahead with investigations without interference.
The parliament is scheduled to meet tomorrow (May 07).
Referring to clashes in parliament between Government and Opposition lawmakers in the wake of what he called constitutional coup perpetrated in late Oct last year, Speaker Jayasuriya said that he didn’t interfere in investigations. Therefore, law enforcement authorities could go ahead with investigations into the alleged links of members of parliament with recent incidents, Jayasuriya said.
Having visited Ven. Galagodaatte Gnanasara at the Welikada prison on Saturday morning, MP Rajapakse accused four politicians namely MP Rahaman, All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) leader Rishad Bathiudeen, Eastern Province Governor M.L.A.M. Hisbullah (UPFA National List MP) and Western Province Governor Azath Salley (Former UPFA member of the Colombo Municipal Council) of backing those who perpetrated the Easter Sunday carnage.
MP Rajapakse also blamed former SLFP National Organizer Basil Rajapaksa for the current situation. Basil Rajapaksa had empowered Rishad Bathiudeen during the previous administration, Rajapakse, who switched his allegiance to UNP leader Wickremesinghe in Dec 2014 said.
President Sirisena in terms of the Emergency Regulations proscribed National Thawheed Jammath (NTJ) and Jamathei Millathu Ibraheem (JMI).
TNA spokesman and Jaffna District MP M A Sumanthiran during debate on reimposition of Emergency Regulations in the wake of indiscriminate bombings, called for an investigation into Hisbullah’s activities.
Responding to MP Rajapakse’s accusations, lawmaker Rahaman told The Island yesterday the learned President’s Counsel owed an explanation as to what he in his capacity as the Justice Minister did after declaring in parliament in late Nov 2016 of some Sri Lankan Muslim families’ involvement with the ISIS.
MP Rahaman said that double Doctor Rajapakse should be ashamed of his pathetic conduct. “MP Rajapakse’s actions can be compared with that of singer Madumadawa Aravinda of the JHU. Both propagate lies as part of their overall strategy to whip up communal feelings. They are seeking political advantage out of the ongoing crisis,” Rahaman said.
Responding to another query, the lawmaker said that Wijeyadasa, without further delay should make available all information in his possession to law enforcement authorities and intelligence services. The UNPer said that MP Rajapakse should explain what he did with information he possessed before he was removed from cabinet in Aug 2017 and the period leading to Easter Sunday bombings.
Rahaman said that he was ready for an investigation at any level. Alleging his colleague operated from the Presidential Secretariat and was one of those advising President Sirisena, lawmaker Rahaman asserted that Rajapakse was making a desperate bid to divert attention away from those responsible for an unprecedented security lapse that facilitated the attack.
MP Rahaman said that it would be a grave mistake on the part of President Sirisena to blame the security lapse on former Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando and IGP Pujitha Jayasundera. Fernando and Jayasundera couldn’t absolve themselves of the responsibility for the loss of over 250 lives, injuries to 500 and massive economic cost, MP Rahuman said. But, President Sirisena, who is also the Commander-in-Chief responsible for defence and law and order portfolios was responsible for the security failure, MP Rahaman said.
MP Rajapakse lacked the guts to blame it on President Sirisena, hence the little show, Rahaman said, adding that he definitely would move court against the President’s Counsel over accusations made outside parliament. Rahaman said that all those who had been at the receiving end of Rajapakse vilifying campaign would move court against the UNP MP.
MP Rahaman called Rajapakse a bankrupt politician now struggling to make a comeback after a spate of setbacks, including the abortive bid to take over the government in Oct last year by way of a constitutional coup. Rajapakse was one of those responsible for convincing President Sirisena to sack properly elected Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, UPFA to quit the government and call early parliamentary election on January 05, 2019 after having dissolved parliament on Nov 09, 2018.
Rahaman called MP Rajapakse nothing but an opportunist. “I don’t have to tell, all know how he switched sides for his personal benefit and sought political advantage of any and every political issue.” Strongly denying any involvement with those allegedly involved in April 21 massacre MP Rahuman said he was prepared to assist law enforcement authorities.
In addition to MP Rajapakse, UNP Chairman Kabir Hashim and Minister Harin Fernando, addressing the media, on separate occasions, alleged political involvement, with Hashim going to the extent of claiming one of the suicide cadres was a person released from judicial custody due to political intervention. No less a person than President Sirisena contradicted the UNP Chairman when he briefed the media regarding the developments on April 26 at the President’s House.
Responding to a media query, President Sirisena said that Kabir Hashim shouldn’t have made unsubstantiated allegations. The President said that he personally raised the issue with the UNPer who didn’t have a credible response.