Hakeem tables photo of current SLPP organiser standing next to Zahran | Daily News


Refutes reports of links with Easter Sunday bomber Zahran

Hakeem tables photo of current SLPP organiser standing next to Zahran

City Planning, Water Supply and Higher Education Minister Rauff Hakeem said that the false accusations levelled against him by the Opposition is a blatant attempt to gain power at any cost.

Making a special statement in Parliament yesterday, Hakeem said false accusations against him or the SLMC will not frighten them from discharging our sacred duty of safeguarding democratic gains made after January 8,2015 and consolidating our efforts to build a plural multi-ethnic multicultural society that is guided by the Buddhist ethos of compassion, tolerance and truth.He said emerging from terrorism, all must believe that the prosperity of all communities in Sri Lanka is inextricably linked and communities must allow a new era of cooperation, peace and understanding to ensure growth and stability to meet great challenges and work together to keep the peace for a shared future for all communities. At times of strife such as these he said he had faith that truth will prevail over untruth. He refuted the media reports linking him to the Easter Sunday terror suspects terming these reports as brazen untruths, cunning innuendos and wicked imputations. He said such allegations as a consequence have resulted in some Joint Opposition members placing the report of the PSC on the Easter Sunday attacks under a cloud, questioning its credibility on the eve of its release.

“At issue is a video clip of a public encounter in 2015 wherein Zahran Hashim, the suicide bomber is part of an audience of a group of people I was addressing. There is another picture where Zahran is shown shaking hands with me. I am the leader of the party that represents an ethno religious constituency of the Muslims of Sri Lanka. The more substantial segment of this constituency is in the Eastern Province. It is common knowledge that politicians passionately cultivate their foundational constituency and I am certainly no exception. When we greet the public we exude geniality without exception. None of us possess the psychic powers or clairvoyance to read the minds of people, be they contemporary activists or future suicide bombers. How would I have known then? In 2015 this person and all his accomplices were not identified as fugitives and only in 2017 they were identified as fugitives. Other law enforcement agencies had not identified this man either as a terrorist or a potential terrorist then. My meeting was an open event and not a secret rendezvous under a culvert, as was the case when some erstwhile leaders met the LTTE to persuade the terrorists to boycott presidential elections in 2005,” said Hakeem, adding that what was depicted in that venue was a meeting with some political activists who briefed me on some incidents of violence and cohesive pressure linked to supporters of a candidate to Kattankudy which in 2019 turned out to be the epicentre of another terrorism.

According to reports, Zahran was a preacher then, the event in the video clip was held in the immediate aftermath of the defeat of that candidate in the 2015 General Elections. “Soon after his defeat the candidate was politically dextrous to persuade President Maithripala Sirisena to nominate him from the national list. Emboldened by their political bosses to be all things to all people at all times, his goons carried out violent attacks on opposing party supporters who caused his defeat at the polls. He also exerted influence to neutralise the police they alleged. The people as shown in the video clip approached me as the leader of the SLMC for redress. Given the political culture at that time it was a very ordinary and routine encounter where people sought justice from political leaders, because the candidate was a law unto himself under the patronage of the then regime had been ousted but their local operator had now switched sides. We had to wait for another four years to receive the wake up call on Easter Sunday in 2019. The video shows me listening to their grievances.When I visited the hospital to see those injured, especially a pregnant mother who was also brutally assaulted, the so called video evidence also shows the presence of a high-ranking police officer DIG Batticaloa U.P. Dissanayake, who was with me.”

The Minister tabled these photographs in the House as well.

“I too did not go there in any secrecy. Quite funnily I learnt last night that the TV channel which posted the videos had removed them as the man standing next to the bomber is the current Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna organiser for Kattankudy who is also making arrangements for an impending visit of the SLPP presidential candidate to Kattankudy. The valid video evidence is no longer available on You Tube.”

However, he tabled a photograph which he had in his possession.

Hakeem said that the preacher who makes these allegations, M. Ibrahim is an accomplished liar and an agent of the SLPP. He accused Ibrahim of being used by interested parties to undermine unity in the past and that seems to be his chosen vocation. Hizbullah’s candidacy is a proxy for the SLPP that knows that all Muslims will not vote for a party which uses extremist racial prejudice to expand its vote base while pretending to observe political niceties towards minorities, he said, adding that in 2015 Ibrahim contested the presidential elections under the butterfly symbol to divert Muslim votes knowing very well that Muslims would not vote. The minister claimed he had enough evidence to prove his links to senior leaders of the SLPP and he tabled the photographic evidence.

“It is sad that the Joint Opposition is stooping so low. Why are people trying to intentionally destroy and damage my political persona and my personal character and credibility?

Prof. Pieris has also accused me of meeting Prabhakaran. Prof.Pieris should know that I was part of his own government team which negotiated with the LTTE. He was not only a member but the principal interlocutor of our team. I met Prabhakaran then at their request.The Joint Opposition refused to participate in the PSC sessions. It wants to subvert the process of discovering the truth about the Easter Sunday carnage,” said Hakeem, adding that the so called alleged encounter with the terrorists was very much in the knowledge of these mud-slingers when the composition of the PSC was announced.

“On the eve of the submission of the report now they have started howling. There is no other avenue opened to them to come to terms with the truth. It is a shame that these people are now trying to reduce a painstakingly conducted exercise into a political circus. I reject these false accusations. If you must resort to character assassination to sustain your political argument it clearly demonstrates how weak your argument is. Do not judge my character based on innuendo and falsehood. Instead, I ask you to examine the motives of my accusers. Truth can only be seen by those who know what truth is. Those who do not have truth in them will always be blind to the truth. Don’t look far, they cannot kill the truth. So they want to kill my character. Character assassins don’t hate the targeted persons. I am sure Dinesh Gunawardena doesn’t hate me. They see the damage done to the person’s character as a means to an end to realising their own goals. This is what they want to do.They want to assassinate my character as a means to achieve a different goal. Please don’t do that it is not done in gentlemanly politics. They have no conscience or sense of remorse. They don’t care what happens to the person once they have destroyed him. It has nothing to do with the person attacked but it has everything to do with the assassin’s ultimate objective for power. Power at all costs,” he added.

Hakeem tabled all the photographs mentioned in his special statement in parliament yesterday.

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