ECONOMYNEXT – The Rajapaksas “sold” the 2019 Easter bombings to secure election victories and the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) has glossed over allegations that the terrorists behind the attack were once in the state’s payroll, former MP Bimal Rathnayake said.
Speaking at an event in Matara yesterday, the former Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) parliamentarian accused President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his government of failing to find the masterminds of the attack that killed 267 and injured at least 500.
“We would like to know what President Rajapaksa or this government has done outside the commission appointed by [former President Maithripala] Sirisena to find the true culprits. They’ve done nothing. Which means the government believes Sirisena’s commission is sufficient,” said Rathnayake.
The former MP further said the PCoI has discovered the obvious fact that leader of the National Thawheed Jammath (NTJ) Zaharan Hashim carried out the attack.
“The real question is, who masterminded an attack of this scale? We know who the actors were, but who were the directors? The commission report makes no reference to this,” he said.
On a more controversial note, Rathnayake claimed that Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa had admitted about two years ago that Zaharan and other terrorists were on the payroll of military intelligence. He was presumably referring to a video clip tweeted by MP Harin Fernando in October 2019 in which then opposition leader Rajapaksa can be heard telling Ven Keppetiyagoda Sirivimala Thero that his government at the time paid informants who had infiltrated extremist groups and not the terrorists themselves. However, United National Party (UNP) MP Lakshman Kiriella had previously told parliament in June 2019 that the Rajapaksa government had paid salaries to 30 members of the Thawheed Jamaath, prompting Rajapaksa to warn Kiriella not to expose intelligence officials.
“This will be like another Millennium City,” he said. “Do not mention in public what is discussed at the select committee. Do not expose intelligence officials.”
Former MP Rathanayake in his speech yesterday claimed that the Rajapaksa government had funded extremism on both sides.
“Salaries were also paid to the Bodu Bala Sena as well as Muslim extremists. Both forms of extremism were paid for with the same military account. We’d like to know if the PCoI asked Prime Minister Rajapaksa, and President Rajapaks who was Defence Secretary at the time, why these terrorists were paid salaries,” he said. (Colombo/Mar10/2021)