Wrongful arrest alleged in Vavunathivu shooting | Sunday Observer

Wrongful arrest alleged in Vavunathivu shooting

The leader of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) R. Sampanthan in a letter to the Defence Secretary Shantha Kottegoda has requested the latter to release the youth, Kethirgamathambi Rajakumaran alias Ajanthan, who was arrested and detained over the killing of two police personnel at the Vavunathivu checkpoint.

“If the information is correct the youth named Ajanthan should not be held in custody any longer. Kindly look into this matter and do the needful,” the letter read.

On November 29, 2018 two Police officers arriving for their morning shift were met with a grisly scene at a remote Police checkpoint in Vavunathivu, Batticaloa. Two of their colleagues who were on duty the previous night Police Constables Ganesh Dinesh (28) and Niroshan Indika had been brutally killed and their service weapons stolen. As investigations in to the deaths of the cops commenced, the country’s intelligence services and related agencies immediately zeroed in on former LTTE cadres suspecting a possible link based on an heated incident between the Police and the organisers of the

Maaveerar Naal event a few days before.

However, following the Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka, a security dragnet launched by the Police and security forces nabbed the driver of the Easter Sunday bombings mastermind Zahran Hashim’s who has now confessed it was the terror outfit led by Hashim that carried out this attack on the cops. The Police based on the confessions also recovered the stolen service weapons of the slain policemen.

This is believed to be the first attack launched by the terror outfit led by Hashim responsible for the Easter bomb blast. However the intelligence network and the Police had over five months held former LTTE cadre Kathirgamathamby Rajakumara alias Ajanthan without charge under the suspicion that he was involved in the attack. While his wife Selvarany and the two children protested against his arrest, the law enforcement agencies continued to fail in discovering the possible link of radical Islamists. As a result, following the recent Easter Sunday attacks on April 26 the country’s intelligence services and Police have come under heavy criticism. Many have labelled it as a major intelligence failure alleging that they had only focused on the possible resurgence of the LTTE and ignored other possible threats.

However, despite the allegations several confidential dossiers have since been leaked online which has gone on to prove that intelligence services in fact knew of the possible threats posed by extremist elements linked to Hashim and reported their findings to their superiors. The most recent report leaked online shows that the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) had commenced investigations on terror mastermind Zahran Hashim in 2018 based on previous intelligence reports.

Writing to the IGP in November 2018 and informing him of the commencement of investigations, Director TID in his letter claims that it has been revealed that ‘Mohamed Cassim Mohamed Zahran holds strong extremist views’ and maintains a Facebook account going by the name of Assheikh Zahran Hashim Hafidahahullah.The individual was posting pictures and videos that purports to create disunity among communities and propagate racist sentiments against other religious groups. The document sent in the by the TID director more importantly noted that Zahran shows an inclination towards the international terror group ISIS and their conduct. “He has used his facebook account to share video, pictures and ideas propagated by the ISIS on the internet” it adds presenting an Editorial published by the ISIS magazine Al Naba which Zahran had posted and translated in to Tamil on October 31,2018 as an example of his sympathy towards the ISIS.

The letter to the IGP also reveals that the TID had prepared a report in June 2017 under the reference EER/08/17 and presented it to the Attorney General’s Department requesting that they take necessary legal action against the NTJ and its members of which Zahran was a part of at the time. “However, to date no advice has been received from the Attorney General in this regard” the letter reads laying the blame of inaction partly on the Attorney General’s Department.

The TID according to the report had also attempted to trace the whereabouts of Zahran and added his name to a stop list preventing him from travelling abroad. They had also informed the Sri Lanka Computer Emergency Readiness Team (SLCERT) about Hashim. Attempts to block his facebook account by SLCERT had failed and they had requested TID to write to Facebook themselves to get the account used to spread extremist messages blocked. Taking steps in this regard, a report had been prepared and forwarded to Facebook regarding Hashim, the warrant out for his arrest and other misdemeanours. The TID had also requested information on Hashim’s email address, phone number and location from which he was accessing the social media site.

However, despite the revelations the intelligence networks have been faulted for the April 21 attacks by Zahran Hashim and his followers claiming they did not give due focus to groups such as the NTJ.

Following the release of the confidential dossier one former military intelligence chief said this could not be further away from the truth. “Since the end of the war, the country’s intelligence services filed report after report on various threats we had identified” he told the Sunday Observer. According to him the agencies had focused on various religious extremist elements including the National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ). “It just seemed that more recently these reports were not taken seriously” he said. According to a highly placed source in the Ministry of Defence the NTJ and Zahran Hashim had been a constant name mentioned at security briefings. “He was always mentioned at least once in these reports” he confirmed.