ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Vol. 41 - No 20

Dinesh duped and dumped

Iraq-terror victim tells of conman and area politicos

By Nalaka Nonis

It’s almost two years since truck driver Dinesh Rajaratnam was abducted by militants in Iraq and later released.

He returned to Sri Lanka amid loads of promises including assurances of land, housing and good education for his children.

In addition to realizing that many of the promises would remain empty words he has allegedly been played out by a conman.

According to Mr. Rajaratnam, the man posing off as a policeman and claiming to have contacts in various ministries and the US embassy had promised to expedite the compensation due to him from the Kuwait firm that sent him to Iraq. He had also promised Mr. Rajaratnam and his wife employment in Cyprus and had in the process allegedly helped himself to Rs. 200,000 before vanishing.

Mr. Rajaratnam says that he hasn’t got what he believes is due to him as compensation and feels that little is being done by government officials here to help him. While trying to find someone to sort out his compensation issue he is also trying to hunt down the conman who regularly visited the Peliyagoda Terrorist Investigation Division (TID).

Mr. Rajaratnam says he got acquainted with the conman when he was invited to contest the local elections on the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) ticket early this year. He had not only promised to help expedite the compensation payment but also send the couple for employment to Cyprus.

To convince Mr. Rajaratnam that he was a police officer with influence, he had taken him along to the Peliyagoda TID on several occasions and introduced him to other officers.

“I was convinced that he was a man with influence. I told him I would pay him Rs. 50,000 if he could expedite my compensation dues. He told me he knew officials at the Foreign Ministry,” Mr. Rajaratnam said.

Mr. Rajaratnam says that on receiving the compensation in April this year he fulfilled his promise and paid the man Rs. 50,000. He paid him another Rs. 150,000 after being promised employment in Cyprus.

Mr. Rajaratnam said he even went to the extent of boarding one of his children in Kandy in preparation to travel to Cyprus.

“Soon after I gave the second lot of money to the man who identified himself as Mahadeva Ratnarajaha he went missing. I called over at the Peliyagoda TID only to be told that he was an informant,” Mr.Rajaratnam said.

He said he didn’t lodge a formal complaint as the police had assured him that they would look for the man who had disappeared with the money.

In addition to being duped by a conman Mr. Rajaratnam laments that some politicians who promised him housing, land and money have failed to keep to their promises.

He claims that one of them was Fisheries Minister Felix Perera who had promised him a plot of land.
He says that Mr. Perera had sent a letter to the Urban Development Minister Dinesh Gunawardena recommending him for a plot of land, but so far he had not got a response.

Mr. Rajaratnam also believes he is entitled to more than the Rs. 495,673 he received as compensation from the Kuwaiti company.

“Unfortunately there is no one to follow up my case. My Bangladeshi colleague who was abducted along with me received compensation equivalent of Rs. 1.4 million,” he claimed.

Mr Rajaratnam says his colleague was able to obtain a higher amount as compensation as he had all the correct documents.

“I now feel I should have collected all my documents from my work place before I was brought back to Sri Lanka,” he said.

But a Foreign Ministry spokesman told The Sunday Times that Mr. Rajaratnam’s Bangladeshi colleague obtained a higher payment as he had agreed to return for employment in Kuwait.

“The allegation that we hurriedly brought him down to Sri Lanka before he collected his documents is not correct. It was his family members who wanted to see him soon after his release,” the spokesman said.

Mr. Rajaratnam also claims he should get insurance payment amounting to Rs. 100,000 which he had obtained before he left for employment. The Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation has refused the payment on the grounds that repatriation was not within the cover of its insurance policy.

However, Mr. Rajaratnam believes that under his contract he had to work according to the instructions of the employer and that he was repatriated while performing his duties assigned to him by the company.

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Copyright 2006 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.