‘Sinhalese and Muslims turning to extremism’ - Dayasiri | Daily News


 

PSC seeks Easter Sunday guest list at Taj Samudra:

‘Sinhalese and Muslims turning to extremism’ - Dayasiri

SLFP General Secretary MP Dayasiri Jayasekara giving evidence before the Parliament Select Committee (PSC) to probe the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks chaired by Deputy Speaker Ananda Kumarasiri at the Parliament complex yesterday. PSC members Minister Ravi Karunanayake, and MPs Rauff Hakeem, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, Prof. Ashu Marasinghe, Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne, M.A. Sumanthiran and Dr Nalinda Jayatissa were present. Pictures by Rukmal Gamage
SLFP General Secretary MP Dayasiri Jayasekara giving evidence before the Parliament Select Committee (PSC) to probe the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks chaired by Deputy Speaker Ananda Kumarasiri at the Parliament complex yesterday. PSC members Minister R

SLFP General Secretary MP Dayasiri Jayasekara admitted before the Parliament Select Committee (PSC) yesterday that he had possessed no definite information when he claimed that the suicide bomber whose target was the Taj Samudra Hotel did not detonate his bomb due to the presence of some VIP guests in the hotel.

The Parliament Select Committee to probe the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks chaired by Deputy Speaker Ananda Kumarasiri met at the Parliament complex yesterday. MP Jayasekera, who did not appear before the PSC when he was first summoned on June 28, appeared yesterday following the Speaker’s advice to him.

The PSC members Minister Ravi Karunanayake, and MPs Rauff Hakeem, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, Prof. Ashu Marasinghe, Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne, M.A. Sumanthiran and Dr Nalinda Jayatissa were present.

At the outset of the PSC hearing, a video clip was played of a political programme of a private television channel in which MP Jayasekera implied that the suicide bomber whose target was the Taj Samudra hotel did not detonate his bomb due to the presence of some VIP guests in the hotel. Questioned by the PSC, Jayasekara said that he had made that statement out of suspicion and had no concrete information.

He said that the PSC and the Security Forces must investigate as to why the suicide bomber left the Taj Samudra without blowing himself up and who the guests were in the hotel at that time.

“As a politician, I receive various pieces of information but I cannot tell the PSC as I have been unable to get them confirmed. What I told the journalist during that political programme was that they should do investigative journalism and find out the truth,” he told the Committee.

PSC chair Deputy Speaker Ananda Kumarasiri said that a name list of guests at the Taj Samudra hotel at that time would be sought for the Committee’s perusal.

MP Jayasekara, further testifying, questioned whether NTJ leader and Shangri-La Hotel suicide bomber Zahran Hashim was used by a certain foreign force to create an internal crisis to take control of the country.

“Various countries try to implement their agenda in our country. International forces were more involved than any internal force in the change of regime in 2015 and it will be the same in any such future changes,” he said.

However, when asked to name the foreign countries about which he was making this allegation of interference, Jayasekera was non-committal. The MP recommended that a comprehensive investigation be made about the funds received by Zahran’s organization to buy land and vehicles and to construct mosques, and which countries were behind the funding.

The MP also argued that the investigations had not proven that the ISIS was behind the attacks. The PSC members, however, disagreed, commenting that the intelligence findings and the statements of witnesses before the PSC had confirmed the ISIS links.

Responding to further questions by PSC members, Jayasekera said that he had attended the National Security Council (NSC) meeting on April 22, a day after the attacks. He said that SIS Chief Nilantha Jayawardena had briefed the NSC about 600-700 intelligence documents presented since 2014 containing information on Zahran’s extremist preaching and activities.

The MP said he had attended another NSC meeting recently on the invitation of President Maithripala Sirisena, and during that meeting he had proposed the conducting of a de-radicalization programme. At this point, the PSC members inquired about the suitability of an Opposition MP attending a Security Council meeting.

“It is the President’s discretion. There is no specific law as to who should be invited to the Security Council meetings. Though we are Opposition MPs, we work closely with the President and discuss the affairs coming under his purview as the Defence Minister. The President called us because he had confidence in us,” the MP replied.

Disagreeing with Jayasekara, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka said that the President could not invite anybody and everybody he wants to the NSC meetings as sensitive security information is discussed. “Such sensitive information should remain within the Government. The IGP and the Army Commander should be able to speak freely in those meetings. If the President wishes to discuss those matters with the SLFP members, he can do so at any other place, but the NSC is not the place for that. There is also a Gazette issued in 1999 as to who should be invited to the NSC, but it has not been updated thereafter,” Fonseka pointed out.

Questioned about his involvement in the racial clashes in Kuliyapitiya after the Easter attacks, Jayasekara said that his involvement was to prevent a Sinhala-Muslim clash in the area and to remove the persons who behaved aggressively.

He said that he had not intervened to get the suspects released and that the Police had decided to give them Police bail even prior to his involvement. “I volunteered to take the six suspects from Hettipola Police to Bingiriya Police. I drove the vehicle and several Police officers were inside my vehicle. My intervention helped to prevent an attack on the Hettipola Police,” he replied.

TNA MP Sumanthiran asked for Jayasekara’s opinion about the Kandy rally last week in which Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) General Secretary Ven. Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thera pledged to build a Sinhala Government and distorted National Flags were displayed at the meeting venue. Jayasekara replied that a trend could be seen in the country in which more and more Sinhalese and Muslims are being pushed toward extremism. Measures must be taken to stop that.

He said that the proposed legislation against hate speech and the Harmony Act proposed by the SLFP would help in that endeavour. He added that political parties should not betray their ethnicity when taking the support of other parties to form Governments.

 


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