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13th September 1998

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Who is the villain of the piece?

By Dilrukshi Handunnetti Our Lobby Correspondent

Thursday's emergency de bate was volatile to say the least, with the UNP mooting the proposal of unconditional peace talks with the LTTE and the government opposing it.

The first to fire a round of artillery was UNP's John Amaratunge. Quoting an interview given by LTTE Political Wing Leader Thamilchelvam where he has expressed a desire to hold unconditional talks with the Sri Lankan government, Mr. Amaratunge sounded confident that the LTTE had abandoned the concept of a traditional homeland.

"For the first time the LTTE does not speak of traditional homelands and is willing to talk without preconditions- a situation which should be exploited,"he said.

Then he dropped the bombshell. While the government was gunning for Jayalath Jayawardene, the UNP had reliably learnt that President Kumaratunga had written to the LTTE herself- and he began questioning PA front benches whether they were aware of it.

"We don't know about any such thing, but Dr. Jayalath Jayawardene has held secret talks with an LTTE leader in Wanni," countered Agriculture Minister D.M. Jayaratne.

Speaking with his customary fervour was UNP General Secretary Gamini Atukorale, who caused an uproar in the House by exclaiming that the government's false propaganda machine was working overtime to paint Dr. Jayalath Jayawardene as the villain of the piece over an alleged secret visit to Wanni.

"If he has done wrong, prosecute him - but until proven guilty do not use your discrediting tactics," thundered the bespectacled member. Minister Batty Weerakoon was however in a disagreeable mood, and he charged the UNP of resorting to delaying tactics and not being actually committed to resolving the festering ethnic wound.

Next Dr. Jayalath Jayawardene was seen defending himself while government members enjoyed heckling him as an LTTE agent.

"As a Catholic devotee I visited the Madhu church, and if you need a whipping boy please find someone else because I will not be prosecuted on fabricated charges ," Dr. Jayalath thundered, challenging the government to make similar allegations in the North and East, where Dr. Jayawardene has considerable political clout.

UNP's Dr. Sarath Amunugama explained why there should not be preconditions for peace talks with the LTTE.

"The President with her queer logic kept on contradicting her own stance. The basis of any negotiation should be confidence and trust. The UNP's proposal to hold talks does not stem from sympathy for the LTTE or their so called cause, but for the welfare of this country," he said.

Usually Sarath Kongahage's very presence irked PA ranks. But this time when the MP warned the government to be wary of foreign peace brokers who wanted the government to follow the Irish model, they broke into appreciative applause.

"The IRA and the LTTE cannot be compared as their strategies differ. The IRA leaders were moderate rebels, their fighting less intense . In contrast, the LTTE was a fully fledged guerrilla force able to cause mass destruction to life and property. Unlike IRA leaders who willingly talked peace, Prabhakaran has to be dragged to the negotiating table and that is possible only when his militarily weak," he said.

Next was PA's habitual heckler , Agricultural Minister D.M. Jayaratne who charged the opposition leader of raising funds for the UNP from US- based-LTTE supporters.

"You have Jayalath Jayawardene on one hand having secret talks with Thamilchelvam,and on the other hand UNP leadership canvassing financial support from LTTE sympathisers in the US," he said. At this accusation the UNP members galvanised into action , demanding that he withdraw the statement. Next UNP's Bulathsinhala member Sarath Ranawake questioned several procurements- all of which were allegedly declared unsuitable for the country.

Undeterred by heavy criticism, Minister Anuruddha Ratwatte said the UNP was being advised by commission agents and disgruntled bidders.

"The dilemma of the UNP was that it was representing the LTTE's view point as well as that of double dealers," he said.

He refuted that the President had written to the LTTE, and emphasised there was no possibility of holding unconditional talks as it would place the country in a vulnerable position.

Barry's blazing end in secret room

Notorious underworld drug king-pin and his mistress die in
midninght gunbattle with police

By Chris Kamalendran

In a midnight gun battle fit for a crime thriller, sleuths swooped on one of the country's most notorious criminals while he slept with a mistress in a room at Ragama.

Police said the criminal Bernard Christopher Barry and his mistress were killed in a gun battle in their secret room from where he planned to flee abroad to escape a one million rupee reward on his head.

At midnight on Tuesday a handpicked CID team had gone into action to arrest Barry who was allegedly involved in at least 15 killings and 50 other cases.

Barry, a 29 year old former Airman had been discharged from the Air Force after being found guilty of stealing ammunition in 1993.

Sleuths led by Chief Inspector, S. Kumarasinghe, officer in charge of the CID's anti -terrorism unit stormed Barry's room which he had rented out only last month at Podiveekumbara, Ragama. The government had earlier offered a one million rupee reward for any information leading to the arrest of Barry, ,alleged to be an underworld drug king-pin also.

As armed officers swooped on Barry,the suspect who was living with a mistress opened fire with a Browning Pistol forcing the sleuths to fire back, detectives said. Barry and his mistress Anusha (23). were killed in the gun battle they said.

Police have been on the trail of the suspect since evidence emerged of his involvement in the assassination of Assistant Superintendent of Police Shanthi Kumar in June this year. The officer was reportedly killed as he had arrested a woman drug -peddler with whom Barry had close connections.

Police said they found a vital document from Barry's room giving details of the plot to kill a senior police officer.

They also found two pistols and two hand grenades from the room along with a a motor cycle used by Barry.

Barry along with his mistress had moved into the room claiming both of them had returned from West Asia and would get back shortly. The house owner, a three wheeler driver now under arrest along with his wife had rented out the room for Rs. 1000 a month.

"Since they moved in, the couple did not move much in public. They normally stayed indoors and the woman used to do the marketing. Once in a while the man used his trail bike . We never spoke to them, they never spoke to us," one neighbour said.

Detectives believe Barry had gone into hiding soon after his picture appeared in newspapers when a reward was offered for his arrest.

Barry is alleged to have had links with gangs which carried out contract killings, abductions, robberies of vehicles, houses and distribution of heroin islandwide.

Police identified the woman killed as the mistress of another notorious criminal known as 'Kalu Ajith' who was killed and burnt inside a van at Attitidya early this year.

"We had information the woman was used to carry weapons for underworld gangs as she could pass through checkpoints easily,"the officer said.

Barry was reportedly planning to escape from the country using a forged passport as he was aware the CID was on the lookout for him.

Gamani Jayasuriya memorial lecture

The Gamani Jayasuriya Memorial Foundation commemorating the death of Sri Lankabhimani Shasana Bandhu Gamani Jayasuriya will hold the Gamani Jayasuriya Memorial Lecture on September 20 (Sunday) at 3.30 p.m. at the Navarangahala of the Homagama Madhya Maha Vidyalaya.

The former Vice Chancellor of the Sri Jayawardenapura University Prof S. B. Hettiarachchi will deliver the special memorial lecture on the subject "Dharmapala's influence on the nurturing of Gamani Jayasuriya."

Have you seen her?

Renuka Malkanthi Senanayake, the young woman in this photograph, is missing since last month.

Renuka Malkanthi SenanayakeAnyone able to provide correct information about her either to the Kandy police (08234251) or the nearest police station, or the following numbers 08203189 or 077802916 will be given a substantial cash reward.

She is of fair complexion and is 5' 4" tall. Has long, black hair and brown eyes. Is believed to be in a depressed mental condition. Was wearing a light green frock when last seen.

Anura to see Sai Baba again

UNP MP Anura Bandaranaike left this week to have an audience with Satya Sri Sai Baba at his Whitefield Ashram in Bangalore, India.

This is the second time in three months that Mr. Bandaranaike is seeing Sai Baba. On the last occasion they met, Sai Baba had asked Anura to make friends with his sister Chandrika Kumaratunga.

Mr. Bandaranaike will return to Sri Lanka for a few days before he leaves for Los Angeles where he will join UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe at a fund-raising dinner dance on September 26.

Remembering Anagarika

The 134th birth anniversary of Srimath Anagarika Dharmapala founder of the Maha Bodhi Society will be celebrated next Thursday, September 17 with a public meeting being held at the Galle Town Hall at 9.30 a.m.

The meeting organised by the Maha Bodhi Society of Sri Lanka will be presided over by the most Ven.Pallantara Suma- najothi . The Governor of the Southern Province Neville Kanakaratne and the Ven. Alutugama Dhammananda will also address the meeting.

An exhibition of photographs depicting the life of the Anagarika Dharmapala will be held the previous day (Sep 16) and a Pahan Poojava at the Wijayananda Vihare on September 17 evening.

JR birth anniversary

The 92nd birth anniversary of late President J.R. Jayewardene will be celebrated on Thursday at the Jayewardene Centre, Dharmapala Mawatha, Colombo 7.

Leader of the Opposition Ranil Wickremesinghe will be the chief guest and will deliver the keynote address.

'Rise above petty politics'

Several religious and social justice movements coordinated by the Inter-Religious Peace Foundation will hold a peace meeting in Colombo on Tuesday to urge President Kumaratunga and Opposition UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe to rise above party politics and come to a consensus to find a just solution to the ethnic conflict.

The groups led by Buddhist monks and Catholic priests will gather outside the Fort Railway Station to distribute copies of an appeal among the public calling upon the President and Mr. Wickremesinghe to come to an agreement on sharing both the responsiblity and the credit for resolving the ethnic conflict.

The Ven. Walpola Vimalagnana There of the Inter-Religious Peace Foundation, Fr. Oswald Firth and Fr. Tissa Balasuriya of the Centre for Society and Religion, the National Peace Council, Tamil, Hindu and Muslim groups, women's movements, workers' and fishermen's groups will be among those taking part in the peace campaign.

These groups are urging the President and Mr. Wickremesinghe to take the ethnic issue out of the arena of party electoral politics and place before the people their basic consensus for bipartisanship in solving the conflict by providing justice for all. They stress this approach in the conviction that peace is a fruit of justice and cannot be achieved through war or armed conflict.

"Any attempt to solve the national problem through the electoral process will be to load people with an additional burden. Besides, it will only serve to divide our people even further. Our history provides numerous examples that the electoral process has not been the most appropriate means to solve problems of this nature qualitatively.

"Our firm conviction is that serious consultation between the two main parties is vital if this national crisis is to arrive at a reasonable and acceptable solution. In the event of consensus being reached, no one should grudge the parties to the dialogue from sharing the credit for their efforts, " the Foundation states.

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