|Sunday, 11 January 2004|
Breakthrough imminent in Mayor's assassination bid
by S. Selvakumar
The attempt on the life of the Mayor of Matale, Mohamed Hilmy Careem, a mild mannered, diminutive workaholic in the early hours of January 1, 2004, has sent shock waves among the residents of Matale and the townfolk are still dumbfound as to who could have engineered the hurling of a deadly 'J. R.' type hand grenade into the bedroom of the Mayor around 2 a.m. when he was fast asleep.
On January 1, he was to open the modernized Matale Municipality. The council was modernized under his able guidance, which he believed, was the gateway to the massive development projects undertaken by him.
"It was by the grace of Almighty Allah that I escaped and I won't rule out the possibility of repetition of further attempts on my life", he told the Sunday Observer.
A dejected Hilmy Careem in a letter to the Prime Minister a few days after the incident said that he represented the UNP as the sole Muslim Mayor of Sri Lanka. "I have acted selflessly without bringing any discredit to the party or to the public office I hold. Though I am prepared to sacrifice my life for the party, I do not wish to bow down to intimidation and thuggery from sections opposed to my political beliefs" and lamented in his letter to the Prime Minister, that in this context he was surprised to note that the party had failed to condemn this barbaric act and take up the matter with authorities concerned in a meaningful manner so that the culprits could be apprehended without delay.
Meanwhile, Matale Assistant Superintendent of Police, M. B. Angunawela said that five police teams are investigating different aspects and soon the culprits would be brought to book. Angunawela said that it was a miraculous escape. The bed on which the Mayor had been sleeping was a low one and the shrapnel of a hand grenade had a tendency to shoot upwards after the explosion and this had saved the Mayor's life, Angunawela added.
He said considerable damage has been caused to the room and when he visited the scene soon after the incident, the Mayor's head was covered with plaster of the walls and ceilings and he was quite dazed and unable to speak.
"It could be even an inside job", Mr. Careem told this newspaper, meaning that some of his own party men could have indulged in it, since some of them were quite jealous of the progress the town had made since he assumed the mayorship, though he did not elaborate on this suspicion.
A host of new development projects in collaboration with cities of Japan, Canada and the UN headquarters in New York were to commence from January 1, when this dastardly act was commissioned, leading citizens of the town of Matale lamented.
Produced by Lake House