Assailants masquerading as police officers confuse prison guards in the Kalutara attack: The underworld fight the underworld | Sunday Observer

Assailants masquerading as police officers confuse prison guards in the Kalutara attack: The underworld fight the underworld

The well orchestrated Chicago type attack on Monday morning on the Black Maria transporting prisoners from the Kalutara Prison to the Kaduwela Magistrate’s Court killing five prisoners, including the notorious gang leader Aruna Udayashantha Pathirana alias Samayan and two prison guards providing security to them, once again raised serious concerns about the protection of the prisoners and about the rivalries among gang leaders, fighting each other openly.

The incident that unfolded on Monday at Ethanamadala in Kalutara was a clear indication that even the prisoners under the protection of prison authorities are not in safe hands when their lives come under threat by other underworld gang leaders.

That was why Samayan, an adopted son of a well to do family in Ranala who later turned underworld gang leader, had to die along with four other prison inmates, according to ongoing Police investigations, possibly at the hands of another gang that stood against him.

According to Police investigation, the assailants came apparently clad in Police uniforms and launched the attack on the two prison buses which had left the Kalutara prison at 9 am on Monday to reach the Kaduwela Magistrate’s Court to produce the suspects in relation to an attempted murder case.

A cab which had blocked the two prison buses at a distance less than one kilo meter from the prison, and another set of attackers hiding behind an earth bank on the left side of the bus had started firing at the bus. According to Police, the 11 Prison officers armed with seven weapons could not retaliate initially, as they were confused due to the attire of the assailants who were in police uniforms.

Well orchestrated

Even the two prison guards who fired shots at the assailants finally succumbed to their injuries as they too came under the attack of the assailants. The assailants have used automatic rifles to launch this well orchestrated attack targeting underworld kingpin Samayan and more than 64 shots were fired at the prison bus during the attack.

The issue of not providing Police protection to the prison when notorious gangsters were transported to courts in the prison bus was highlighted at this incident. The Kalutara North Police station had informed prison officials at the Kalutara prison that they were not in a position to provide security to the prison bus as they had another duty to attend, on that date.

According to Police Spokesman DIG Priyantha Jayakody, from October 16, 2016, the day Samayan was taken to the Kalutara prison, the prison officers have requested Police protection 35 times, and Police had provided security 32 times.

Therefore, it raises concerns whether these attackers had received off hand information that the prison buses are running without Police security on that day, which is a rare occasion according to Police records.

“Monday’s incident is a well orchestrated attack and even the Police security would not have been sufficient to protect the prisoners that day. However, there had been no other communication by the Prison officials to other authorities after Kalutara North Police informed them that they were not in a position to provide security to the two prison buses”, he added.

From the Police side too, a separate inquiry will be carried out as to why the relevant Police officer at the Kalutara North Police station did not inform the higher authorities about their inability to provide security to the two prison buses on that particular date.

“We are not passing the ball to each other but will seriously consider this issue to prevent such occurrences in the future”, the Police spokesman added.

Police investigation launched over the incident by five Police teams under the supervision of Senior DIG Crimes and Traffic Management Nandana Munasinghe have found the Hiace van used by the assailants to flee the area, abandoned in a place at Moragahahena in the Horana area.

Vehicle owners

It was uncovered that the vehicle in question was a van that had been hijacked on January 6 in the Maradana area by a gang, in the guise of transporting several people to the airport, after giving some alcohol to the driver.

The vehicle has been carefully transported to be subjected to the process of finding scientific evidence, while a glove has also been found in the van. The Police are conducting further investigations based on information divulged by the vehicle owners, as the Police have found the two vehicles involved in the incident.

According to Police Spokesman, the Police has taken the initiative to keep the Police intelligence alert to prevent people connected to this incident fleeing the country. Therefore, immigration officials at the Katunayake and Mattala International Airports are on the alert to prevent underworld gang leaders fleeing the country, using forged passports.

The Police said they will issue photographs of wanted suspects to get the support of the general public to arrest them.

Amid this shocking incident in Kalutara on Monday, the Police Department has decided to launch island wide operations to arrest illegal firearms circulating among criminal gangsters.

According to DIG Ajith Rohana, the Police will launch a massive operation along with the STF and the Police intelligence units to crack down on the underworld gangsters and arrest illegal firearms.

He said, the Police Department and the legal authorities have paid attention towards streamlining the process of producing suspects before courts, as many judges have to spend much time to hear the appearances of the suspects, and thereby case hearing gets delayed. Meanwhile , unconfirmed sources say that Monday’s incident resulted due to a rivalry among the underworld gangs who stood against the activities of Samayan who tried to crush all his opponents and become the leader of the underworld.

An adopted child of teacher parents in Ranala, Kaduwela, Aruna Udayashantha Perera a brilliant student had his education up to the O/Ls but was unable to follow A/Ls as he was caught in a case after assaulting a student at the school. He got friendly with one of his school friend’s uncle, a notorious gang leader, Batewela Nishantha. He wanted to be a part of this notorious gang and pleaded with them to make him a member as he wanted to take revenge from the people who had insulted him for becoming an adopted child. As he became a nuisance to the group led by Batewela Nishantha he got the nick name Samayan, which means nuisance.

Attempted murder

After Samayan’s father’s death attempts by his mother to take him into the right track failed and Samayan managed to get his weapons training from Batewela Nishantha and trained to use T-56, pistols and gal katas weapons.

The first contract he got was to kill Sanjeewa Nishantha. Though they fired at him Sanjeews Nishantha escaped with injuries and the Nawagamuwa Police arrested Samayan for the attempted murder of Sanjeewa Nishantha after he got caught with a T 56 weapon and a hand grenade. However, there is controversy about his arrest due to the hand grenade the Police recovered from his possession. He was remanded on the grounds of keeping unlicensed weapons and attempted murder.

At the remand prison he got friendly with underworld leader Mol Asanka, a close supporter of Karate Dhammika. Through Mol Asanka’s contact Samayan got a contract to kill a businessman in Keselwatta, Pettah and he carried it out with the support of another gang leader. He was remanded after this murder and when he was in remand prison he developed more contacts with other gang leaders in the prison.

When he was bailed out he married a girl named Sugandhi and had a child in 2010. It was his first marriage but he did not want to divulge it later on in his life. Reportedly, he had married another woman in 2014 also after coming out from jail. There is a dispute on handing over his body, as Police could not hand over his body to the woman he married illegally.

When he was jailed for the murder of the Pettah businessman, Batewela Nishantha who ran the underworld gangs in Kaduwela went missing temporarily, and a person called Batepola Chara led the underworld gang in Kaduwela. They met in prison, but Samayan tried to kill Chara.

While inside the prison Samayan had got some contracts to kill people and he managed to commit those murders using a disabled Army deserter. After committing the murder when the man who gave them the contract tried to dump the weapon into a garbage dump in the Ampitiya area, he got caught to the Police through the assistance of the people in the area and the entire gang was caught for the murder.

Samayan while in jail provided weapons and information to kill some of his rivals through Army Asanka and the killing of Angoda Rattaran a close aid of another gang leader Angoda Lokka, earned him the wrath of Angoda Lokka. The killing took place in Kelanimulla area in January this year.

The murder of Ranil Bandara Dharmasiri alias Banda at a saloon in Athurugiriya on January 17 this year was also reportedly executed with the support given by Samayan to Army Asanka. Therefore, three underworld gang leaders including Angoda Lokka, Nalin Chathuranga alias Athurugiriye Ladiya and Madush, a gang leader from the South had apparently plotted to kill Samayan as he had given a warning to Angoda Lokka that he will not let him live for another two weeks. Therefore, Police investigations are now on to arrest and question these underworld gang leaders to unravel the story behind the Kalutara prison bus attack.

Meanwhile, Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs Minister D M Swaminathan has appointed a three person committee to prepare an independent report on the Kalutara incident.

Former Magistrate Roomi Manshook has been appointed as the chairperson of the committee; while former police DIG Gamini Nawarathna and former Additional Secretary to the Ministry of Defence S Medawewa are the other members of the committee.

The Minister has informed them to investigate the whole incident and prepare a detailed report and hand it over without delay. The Minister further stated that he will be taking necessary action, based on the investigation reports. The Minister has informed the prison department to make necessary security arrangements in future while transporting dangerous suspects, to avoid similar situations.

Pictures by Rukmal Gamage