Scandalous sex-and-crime allegations against Kamalendran and Hulugalle cause embarrassment to President Gotabaya holds secret talks in New Delhi, possibility of deal with India and Manmohan Singh’s visit to Jaffna A pre-emptive strike by President Mahinda Rajapaksa appears to have saved his Government from one more accusation before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva — [...]


Petty warlords shake Govt. as it faces the crucial Geneva sessions


  • Scandalous sex-and-crime allegations against Kamalendran and Hulugalle cause embarrassment to President
  • Gotabaya holds secret talks in New Delhi, possibility of deal with India and Manmohan Singh’s visit to Jaffna

A pre-emptive strike by President Mahinda Rajapaksa appears to have saved his Government from one more accusation before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva — last week’s murder of Daniel Rexian (42), Chairman of the Pradeshiya Sabha (PS) in Delft, the furthest inhabited island off the northern Jaffna peninsula.

Accusations, including some from sections of the UPFA partner, the Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP), were initially levelled against the Sri Lanka Navy that has a unit on the islet. Another partner, Minister Wimal Weerawansa’s National Freedom Front (NFF) in a statement blamed the TNA for “the first political murder after the end of the conflict on May 19, 2009″. The date marks the military defeat of Tiger guerrillas.

Rajapaksa ordered Police Chief N.K. Illangakoon to direct an investigation by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID). Just seven days later, detectives arrested Kandasamy Kamalendran (47), an EPDP stalwart. He is Leader of the Opposition in the Northern Provincial Council and was one of those in the forefront carrying Rexian’s coffin at the funeral. Also arrested was the PS Chairman’s wife Anita (35) who claimed her husband had committed suicide by consuming poison and later changed her mind to suggest it may be the result of his pulling out a tooth. A letter which the detectives obtained from the deceased’s sister turned out to be incriminating. Written three days before the murder, it had been given to her to be made public if something were to happen. Rexian had alleged that his wife was having an affair with Kamalendran and charged that the latter should be blamed in the event of his loss of life.

Strange but true, reports of sexual trysts by important players in the UPFA in the North as well as in the South have begun to haunt the UPFA Government this week. In the North, however, the issue seems to have more serious ramifications both locally and internationally. This is at a time when the Government is busy addressing issues that are to surface at the March 2014 sessions of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The issue was of such serious concern to President Rajapaksa that he telephoned the EPDP leader and Minister Douglas Devananda on Friday night. He wanted to know what was going on after pointing out to the minister that every political party has had its share of similar problems. When lower rungs create issues, it reflects badly on the leadership, he noted. Devananda said he had asked Kamalendran to resign but he had not done so up to now. If he failed, he told the President that the party would pursue disciplinary action against him. He assured that he would not interfere in the Police investigation and was keen to see it pursued to the end. Devananda has already ordered the closure of the EPDP offices in the islands of Pungudutivu and Delft and wants to “completely re-organise” the party.

Accusations by sections of the EPDP that the Navy was responsible for Rexian’s murder followed a reported argument that the late chairman has had with those at SLNS Wasamba, the naval base on the coral island of Delft. This had reportedly arisen over the use of boats to ferry passengers from the Jaffna peninsula to the 14 square kilometre Delft Island. However, a Navy official in Colombo denied there was any serious dispute. Nevertheless, the sequence of events after the murder lay bare a situation that runs counter to the UPFA Government’s efforts to restore full normalcy in the North, more than four and half years after the military defeat of the guerrillas.

Just a month before Rexian’s murder, a man who was having tea at a kiosk in Jaffna had an argument with another carrying a weapon. He pulled out the 9 mm pistol and placed it on that person’s head. Police were called in. They arrested Joseph Patrick Amalraj and seized his unlicensed pistol. Police investigations have revealed that Amalraj was a close confidant of Kamalendran.

Threats to JMO

The body of Rexian, father of three children, was taken to the Jaffna Teaching Hospital for a post-mortem examination. When it was about to begin, Jaffna’s Judicial Medical Officer (JMO) Dr. Chelliah Sivaruban received an anonymous telephone call on his official land line. He was told to rule that the death was due to suicide. He was courageous enough to refuse. Immediately thereafter, a person described as a member of the EPDP met with an assistant of Dr. Sivaruban and asked him to tell the JMO to declare a verdict of suicide. This was turned down too. Moments later, Dr. Sivaruban was to receive a second telephone call on his land line. This time the caller said he was a member of the EPDP. “If you fail to carry out what we tell you, we will ensure another doctor will conduct the post mortem examination,” he warned. Dr. Sivaruban held the examination and declared that death was due to gunshot injuries. He noted that a 9 mm bullet, embedded in the skull of the victim, was removed.

Rexian’s letter to his sister

CID detectives who took over the probe found that Rexian’s wife Anita had made an allegedly false statement to the Kayts Police who conducted initial investigations. This is because the area is covered by the Kayts Police though a smaller Police post exists in Delft Island itself. Anita was arrested in the island of Pungudutivu on Tuesday morning. In her statement to CID detectives, a senior Police official said, she had confessed to having an affair with Kamalendran. The same afternoon, Kamalendran was arrested at the EPDP office at Park Road in Colombo. Detectives have found that Kamalendran had allegedly forced the late chairman to sign a cheque for one million rupees purportedly as payment to a contractor for road construction work. However, they have discovered that there had been no such work carried out. Detectives have also heard allegations that Kamalendran had tried to sexually abuse Rexian’s 16-year-old daughter. The charge has been made by the latter’s sister when she was interviewed by the detectives.

The Rexian murder has raised questions whether EPDP cadres, contrary to claims by their leader Devananda, continue to retain weapons and are indulging in incidents that contribute to instability in the North. The party has no doubt suspended Kamalendran pending what is being described as a disciplinary inquiry. Yet, two of the NPC opposition leader’s brothers are stalwarts in the EPDP. The fact that illegal weapons, either with or without the official authority of the EPDP, are still in circulation among its members has now become obvious. Worse enough, even after the Northern Provincial Council elections in September that these weapons are being used to create fear psychosis among Government officials, like in the case of the Jaffna Judicial Medical Officer, makes the case even more difficult for the UPFA Government. It is the Government which has to face accusations that it is unable to rein in its alliance partners who are not only using illegal weapons but also resorting to intimidation and violence. This is at a time when the Government has militarily defeated the Tiger guerrillas and allowed an elected Northern Provincial Council to run civil affairs in the north.

LLRC observations

The EPDP also came in for stricture by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC). The commission said it had sought “clarifications from the TMVP (Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal) and EPDP political leadership regarding specific allegations that were attributed to their respective groups.” The LLRC’s report said: “Whilst acknowledging that there are illegal activities attributed to their parties, their contention was that their names are being used by unknown parties. In this regard, it is appropriate to mention that the leader of the EPDP made the observation that the ruthless internecine warfare unleashed by the LTTE necessitated certain Tamil groups to carry weapons and that although the LTTE-engineered conflict is over, some residual activity could remain for some time. He stated that after heavy rains, some wetness remains.”
The LLRC added: “The Commission is constrained to observe the attitude manifested by the leadership of the TMVP and EPDP in their explanations provide little or no consolation to the aggrieved parties, and tends to militate against any meaningful reconciliation process.” Soon after the LLRC report was made public in November 2011, Minister Devananda threatened to sue it. However, he did not follow through.

Kandasamy Kamalendran, Leader of the Opposition of the Northern Provincial Council when he was an EPRLF guerrilla cadre

Kamalendran, the Northern Provincial Council opposition leader, is no ordinary member of the EPDP. He was a trained guerrilla cadre (see photograph on this page) when both he and Douglas Devananda, among others, were members of the Eelam People’s Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF). Kamalendran was the son of a palm tree tapper from Kalvayal in Chavakachcheri. His mother cooked meals for the EPRLF cadres. The February 1985 attack on the Karainagar Naval Base by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the military wing of the EPRLF, led by Devananda, was planned from their house. In this attack, his own sister Shoba and PLA deputy Sinnavan were killed. Later, the parents of Kamalendran named one of their daughters (Kamalendran’s sister) as Shoba.

Kamalendran’s father tapped toddy palms in the Kaithady area in 1989 to raise funds for the EPRLF. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which was expanding its sphere of influence, was to move into that area. The man who was to later become the LTTE Political Wing leader, S.P. Tamil Selvan who used the non de guerre Dinesh seized Rs. 100,000. He left a thousand rupees behind saying that may become necessary for them for a funeral. Fearing threats to his life, Kamalendran’s father approached the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) that was in Sri Lanka at the time for help to travel to India. When that failed, he moved to a refugee camp in Trincomalee and later to a similar camp at Vivekananda School in Kotahena. On a visit to the school, Devananda identified him and obtained his release.

Businessman claims Hula’s affair with wife

Another event of significant embarrassment to the UPFA Government was the sudden closure of the Media Centre for National Security (MCNS) retrospectively from November 1, thus evicting, unceremoniously, its Director General Lakshman Hulugalle. He was, however, adamant that his position still remains though the MCNS was wound up. The claim is similar to a chauffeur saying I am still the driver when his boss had sold the vehicle. There was only a two line terse announcement in a news alert of the Government – – about the closure. It said: “Presidential Secretariat confirms Media Centre for National Security (MCNS) has been dissolved by the Defence Ministry with effect from November 1.” Presidential Spokesperson Mohan Samaranayake was also quoted by the local media making the same statement. Until last Tuesday when the announcement was made, it was business as usual at the MCNS. One UPFA source said the backdating to November 1 was to obviate the need to offer any tangible reason for the sudden closure. The MCNS was established on May 1, 2006 to disseminate information about the then ongoing separatist war. Despite the military defeat of Tiger guerrillas four and half years ago, the MCNS continued to play a proactive role disseminating information related to the armed forces, police and arranging related events including regular briefings for the media. Thus, its role remained relevant despite the end of the war.
The Sunday Times learnt that a sequence of events triggered by the sudden transfer orders to 23 officers and constables from the Police Department’s Organised Crimes Investigation Unit led to the closure of the MCNS. It came in the wake of the officers conducting a raid on a gaming centre in the Colombo Town Hall area. According to highly placed Police sources, the orders came even without a proper investigation being conducted against the 23 policemen. At least in one such instance, the sources pointed out, a Police Chief was ordered by the Supreme Court to revoke the transfer of a Sub Inspector who was OIC of the Weerambugedera Police Station (in the Kurunegala District) since no inquiry had been held before a transfer order was issued. The Police Chief involved was late W.B. Rajaguru whilst the Sub Inspector, now a UNP parliamentarian, is Range Bandara. Police Spokesperson Ajith Rohana had claimed that the transfer orders for the 23 police officers were routine and a new set of Police officers who replaced those transferred had carried out a second raid on the same gaming centre.

Kandasamy Kamalendran, Leader of the Opposition of the Northern Provincial Council (NPC) (left) carries the coffin containing the body of Daniel Rexian, Chairman of the Pradeshiya Sabha of the Island of Delft. Kamalendran has now been arrested together with Rexian's wife Anita for the alleged murder of the Chairman.

A UPFA source said MCNS Director General Lakshman Hulugalle urged the Police Chief N.K.Ilangakoon to effect the transfers on the grounds that there was ‘unfair’ treatment after the arrest of some persons closely associated with a leading personality. Hulugalle, however, has denied he made any such request. The transfer orders had been signed by Senior DIG Gamini Navaratne on behalf of the Inspector General of Police. The issue was raised in Parliament by Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) parliamentarian Anura Kumara Dissanayake. Noting that newspapers had reported that the MCNS had been dissolved from November 1, he asked whether it means that “only the crimes the Director General Lakshman Hulugalle committed after November 1 could be called crimes and wrong doing?” He asked how one would describe what he did prior to that date. Dissanayake said that the 23 policemen who raided the ‘Salaka Regino’ gambling den had been transferred to remote areas. The Police spokesperson has claimed it was because they had served more than a year in their current posts. He pointed out that Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne had said they had been transferred due to their inefficiency. The Prime Minister had also told Parliament that he was not aware of a person by the name of “Hula.” Dissanayake said Hula is the name for the Director General of the MCNS. “What a crime for an official to use his powers to cover up his Casanova lifestyle,” asked the JVP parliamentarian. He was speaking during the committee stage of the Budget debate on the votes of the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development.

A related development came when Gamini Nethicumara, a leading businessman, granted an interview to a Sunday Sinhala weekly last week. The Sunday Times learnt that the interview came in the backdrop of representations Nethicumara made to the UPFA leadership over allegations against Hulugalle. Here are relevant excerpts:

“How did your wife get linked with the gambling business?

By this time the person known as ‘Hula’ and my wife had started an illegal affair. The person who most benefited was my sister-in-law. My sister-in-law who was angry with us got friendly with my wife and got her involved in the gambling business. Through ‘Hula’s’ influence the required security was provided.

“Do you have evidence that your wife had an illegal affair?

Who else will know this, other than me? I have sufficient evidence to prove this. I have the voice recording on the day of their honeymoon. You can listen to it (Plays the recording. Since it involves details of the private life of a third person we requested that it be switched off). I also have photographs.

“How long has this affair been?

It started at the end of 2011. The house turned to be a hell to my children and myself. My eldest daughter is married. The children lodged a complaint at the police. The police did not come to inquire into it.

“Why is that?

It is because ‘Hula’ is a powerful person.

“If that is the case you could have divorced her?

“I have discussed this with the children and am doing this now. I tolerated as much as possible. Even if we had a simple argument at home about 50 policemen would come and surround our house immediately. Senior police officers used to come. Whenever this particular person (Hula) came home it was a disturbance to the neighbors as well. The Special Task Force and their Defender vehicles used to come and block the roads. It brought embarrassment to us. My children told ‘Hula’ not to come home. I also visited his office and told the same.

“What happened thereafter?

He stopped visiting home. But whenever he wanted he came and picked her and dropped her. A private security guard was deployed at my home without my permission. I was forced to take their permission to enter my own home. I believe it was state money which was being used.”

Nethicumara’s two children have made complaints to the National Child Protection Authority (NCPA). In addition, he had also made a complaint to the Cinnamon Gardens Police but has alleged that no action had been taken. It is only thereafter that Nethicumara had made representations to President Mahinda Rajapaksa himself.

Besides holding the position of Director General of the MCNS, Hulugalle also held a number of other appointments. It included the post of Deputy Chairman of the National Livestock Development Board (NLDB), a director of the Commercial Bank and a director of the NGO Secretariat. A senior official of the NLDB said yesterday that Hulugalle enjoyed a string of perks and drew substantial amounts of money for different reasons. This had included allowances to entertain VIPs when they were on provincial visits and expenses for travel abroad. He had also purchased a used Double Cab from a private party and had directed that no other vehicles be parked in the NLDB premises when he was present in his office at the NLDB with security escorts. The NLDB had spent more than Rs. 680,000 for printing a book titled Lakshman Hulugalle, a compilation of his experiences including his role as the Director General of MCNS.

This week, an STF security contingent assigned to Hulugalle was withdrawn. UPFA sources said that Hulugalle had now sought a diplomatic posting, preferably in Malaysia but his request had not been granted.

Gotabaya’s India visit

These developments come amidst several measures the Government is adopting in the light of the Human Rights Council sessions in Geneva in March next year. Of particular significance in this regard is a visit to India last week by Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The express purpose of the visit related to a meeting linked to Lanka Hospitals Ltd., the former Apollo Hospital. A minority shareholding still remains with an Indian concern. He made use of the visit to New Delhi to pay a courtesy call on External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid. Thereafter, a one-on-one meeting with India’s National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon was to become the focal point of attention. Even Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner Prasad Kariyawasam, was advised to stay out during the meeting. Did Secretary Rajapaksa carry any message from the President? Did it in any way relate to the upcoming UNHRC sessions? Were any proposals made and is an Indian response being awaited?

These and other questions came to the fore after Indian Finance Minister Palani Chidambaram hinted on the prospects of a visit to Jaffna by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. He said, “There are attempts being made for not implementing the 13th amendment in the Sri Lankan Constitution. Efforts are being made to dilute many provisions by the Rajapaksa government. The TNA (Tamil National Alliance) is opposing it… the 13th amendment cannot be diluted. India has been and will continue to insist on its implementation,” he told a meeting in Chennai held to explain the Congress Government’s stand on the Tamils issue.

Speculation is rife in political circles in New Delhi on the likelihood of a Singh visit to Jaffna and Colombo, if the two sides see eye to eye on some of the contentious issues. Whilst what Secretary Rajapaksa discussed with Menon still remains a secret, any possible accord, they say, may see India abstaining from voting at the UNHRC sessions in March next year. It has voted in favour of two successive US-backed resolutions in the Council so far, one last year and the other in 2011. With the increasing likelihood of another resolution being moved against Sri Lanka in March next year, sections in New Delhi feel the Government there would find it difficult to back any “international probe” into alleged war crimes. This is on the basis that India too gave extensive support for the military defeat of Tiger guerrillas including the provision of satellite imagery, radio intercepts and other intelligence information. Revelations of India’s role, though not a secret, some sections say, may still come as embarrassment. It was only last week that Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa told Parliament during the Budget debate on the votes of his ministry that some countries shed crocodile tears today for the cause of the Tamils. He said they had earlier wanted Sri Lanka to eliminate the LTTE. He added that they had forgotten what they did and their role in the “final phase of the conflict and humanitarian operation.” He charged that they “shed crocodile tears now but they wanted us to finish the job and eliminate Prabhakaran.”

On the other hand, a Manmohan Singh visit with assurances from Colombo of continued support for the implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution would come as a major deal for the Congress Government vis-à-vis its Tamil Nadu support base including Muthuvel Karunanidhi’s Dravida Munnetra Kazhakam (DMK). With its stunning defeats in four state elections in India this week, the ruling Congress Party is desperate to get some political leverage in the state of Tamil Nadu with parliamentary elections due in a few months. In essence, in such a scenario, both New Delhi and Colombo would have to reach accord on a formula useful for both sides if a visit by Premier Singh is to materialise. For the UPFA Government, however, it would be no easy task to now backtrack from moves to make changes to the 13th Amendment. In fact, a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) is now sitting for that purpose though the completion of its report is not a high priority for the Government at present. Moreover, a UPFA source said, “if President Rajapaksa takes a decision, the murmurs in some sections notwithstanding, all will follow suit.”

President Rajapaksa was indisposed this week and the weekly ministerial meeting scheduled for Thursday had to be put off for Monday (tomorrow). He cancelled a visit on Friday to Moneragala to launch the Multi-sector Action Plan for Nutrition. However, he was fit enough to fly to Badalkumbura (Moneragala District) yesterday to declare open a new town. Ministers had earlier given approval for the 82-page action plan. Rajapaksa told his ministers that “a number of shortcomings have been observed both in the public sector and at community levels with regard to knowledge, skills and attitudes in relation to nutrition, its role and its contribution to the development process are concerned. This situation has a negative impact on achieving the set development targets. The improvement of nutrition of all age groups and segments of the population up to the required level needs interventions not only from the healthcare sector but also from stakeholders from other sectors e.g. education, agriculture, livestock etc. Nutrition is thus identified as requiring a multi-sector approach.” The national action plan, Rajapaksa has said, comprises results and activities formulated by a panel of experts in keeping with globally accepted standards of nutrition.

The main opposition United National Party (UNP) has focused its activities in Anuradhapura this week. The Leadership Council began a two-day meeting on Friday and Saturday after religious ceremonies. This is ahead of the annual convention of the UNP on December 21 at Siri Kotha in Pita Kotte.

This week’s events drive a clear message to the UPFA Government, as explained by President Rajapaksa himself, that they pay a heavy price for the misdemeanours of those at different levels. This is when they abuse their authority and official positions using the names of those who are powerful and influential. This week, Aarachchikattuwa Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman K. Jagath Sanath Perera was re-remanded for his complicity in a case of preparing a Rs.50 million bogus land deal in Kalpitiya to an investor from Belgium. These petty politicians have become veritable warlords in their little pocket boroughs. Instead of waiting for them to make even more colossal blunders, the UPFA leadership should have a mechanism to identify them early and thus prevent greater damage. Their role in bringing the Government to disrepute should not be underestimated just because people fear to complain or raise issue as they are frightened of reprisals.

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