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Easter Sunday carnage: Fr. Cyril Gamini and CID



I read with interest the article published by Dr. Laksiri Fernando concerning the CID investigations into the allegations made by Fr. Cyril Gamini. Dr. Fernando professes that his article consists of an independent opinion, albeit known to Fr Cyril Gamini (Fr.CG) since 1996. However, there are several conclusions and points of view expressed by Dr. Fernando in his article, which belies the claim of an independent opinion, and is demonstrably and palpably biased and prejudiced, especially towards the Law Enforcement Authorities.

The article commences with a claim of harassment – that Fr.CG had to undergo two days of questioning for “no valid reason”. If an individual claims to have knowledge of the mastermind of the Easter Bomb attack, and, in fact, insinuates that the Head of State Intelligence was hand in glove with a terrorist, is that not a valid reason for the CID to question the accuser, at length, and give all opportunity and ample time to produce such evidence? The allegations of Fr CG, made a few years after the Easter Bombing (2019) and at a public forum, and not to the relevant law enforcement authorities investigating the matter, is, indeed, a serious issue affecting the National Security of the Country.

The allegation is directly contradictory to the contents in Zahran Hashim’s video recording aired on Swarnavahini and presented before the PCoI, where the authenticity of the same had been confirmed by the Government Analyst Department. In the said video, Zahran Hashim refers disparagingly to the state intelligence officers, calls them “dogs’ ‘ trying to destroy the cause and proudly declares their missions have no help from non-believers, which is polar opposite to the stance of Fr CG. Furthermore, such allegation is made by Fr CG in a background where over 350 intelligence reports had been issued during the period 2015-2019 to “the powers that be” by the State Intelligence Officers, citing the names of most of the suicide bombers, including Zahran Hashim, and their possible modus operendi (Vide: Dr. Rohan Gunaratne’s television interview where the Zahran Hashim video was aired in full as well as PCoI records). Such conduct certainly does not appear to be the actions of persons acting in concert with terrorists. Therefore, isn’t the CID justified to question Fr CG on what evidence he possesses to insinuate that the State Intelligence Authorities were hand in glove with Zahran Hashim, and which divine power gave him knowledge about the alleged mastermind?

If Fr CG is evasive in his disclosures, is the CID not entitled to question him repeatedly on this most vital issue? We have seen in the past, many ministers, ex- ministers, ordinary citizens, public officials being summoned to the CID (and even the illegal FCID) and being questioned for well over two days on various issues. This is nothing unusual in an ongoing investigation, not only in Sri Lanka, but in parallel law enforcement procedures worldwide. If Fr. CG is genuine about assisting the investigations into the Easter Bombing, he should be more than happy that the CID is meticulously questioning him on all aspects of the issue. Instead, he is now attempting to vilify the CID, and claiming that he is being questioned unnecessarily. Can he decide what is necessary and unnecessary And, what superior knowledge does Dr. Fernando have, to pen his article on the firm belief that Fr.CG had been subject to undue inquisition? Was he present at the CID, observing the manner of questioning?

What is truly shocking is that Dr. Fernando has unequivocally asserted that Major General Suresh Salley, as the Head of SIS, is apparently exerting undue influence, regarding these cases, on the CID. On what basis is such a serious allegation made against the Head of SIS? Dr. Fernando fails to support his declaration with an iota of proof. Surely, as a professional, he knows better than to make loose cannon statements for public consumption? He blatantly faults Major General Suresh Salley for instigating the CID to harass Fr. CG! As a member of the public, I feel the contrary is true! Major General Salley is unnecessarily harassed and defamed by not only Fr CG but by the Dr. Fernando himself, who has obviously written this article whilst on cuckoo land!

Dr. Fernando has then focused his attention to what he considers as the “mysteries” in this entire saga. In writing the mystery series, Dr. Fernando appears to have closed his eyes to the facts already well documented and on record, both at the PCoI and Zahran Hashim’s own video, where much of the motive for the bombing and the manner of execution is lucidly explained.

Dr. Fernando claims to be puzzled why churches and hotels were targeted and states that there is no nexus as Muslims and Christians lived in harmony! Well one only has to listen to Zahran Hashim himself for the mystery to be unveiled, as he firmly cites the famous New Zealand massacre of Muslims inside their place of worship – the Mosque – as the reason why churches were targeted. As to why the hotels were targeted, that, too, is explained by Zahran Hashim himself. If Dr. Fernando cares to recollect, all Five Star Hotels in Sri Lanka were full to capacity with tourists during that period, and on this particular Sunday most hotels held Easter Celebrations. Zahran, in his video, demands from his comrades not to let the foreigners “get away” and to remember what Allah said about non-believers …. He declares that the foreigners have killed “their people” and are now in Sri Lanka holidaying. He claims that these foreigners are the people who abused Allah, wrote the name of Allah on the backs of pigs and called Allah a Neuter. Surprisingly, when penning this all-important article for public consumption, Dr. Fernando appears to have no clue of this video aired on TV, presented to PCoI and accessible to us, the ordinary public. Did the Dr. Fernando at least file an RTI application and seek this information, before writing his mystery series and creating unrest in the mind of the general public!

Dr. Fernando then claims that the security organisations had been doing nothing since 2014 whilst these terrorist organisations were operating freely. Sir, how then do you explain the 350 odd reports, prepared during 2015 -2019, and sent to the Head of the State, the Prime Minister and the Police? No one can deny the existence of these reports clearly identifying the culprits, as the reports were dispatched and found in the offices of the relevant authorities. Most were presented before the various commissions. Does Dr. Fernando think these reports were written magically, with the waving of a wand by a fairy godmother, whilst the state intelligence agencies slept? Where is the ‘apathy’ and ‘indifference’, which Dr. Fernando speaks of relating to the state intelligence? Does he understand the role of an intelligence service in the first place? Their role is information gathering and submitting the same to the relevant authorities for action. In what manner had they shirked their responsibilities, when over 350 reports identifying correctly the culprits and the possible threats, have been sent to the relevant authorities? The PCoI recommendations, which Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith himself demanded implementation, had not faulted the State Intelligence Services. They fault those responsible for enforcing security measures. But now we have a “Dr. Fernando” in his wisdom blaming the blameless.

I find humour in Dr. Fernando’s observation that the security apparatus has failed to act on “the early warnings”, when the earliest and consistent warnings have been given by none other than the Military Intelligence and State Intelligence Services! Need I say more? He faults Major General Suresh Salley for lodging a complaint at the CID about the potential threats he may receive to his life and that of his family. Is it hisposition that holders of government office or the members of the law enforcement authorities cannot resort to the grievance procedures and protection of the law enforcement agencies that are available to all citizens of the country? Don’t or shouldn’t the State Intelligence Officers enjoy equal rights or the equal protection of the law?

Dr. Fernando proceeds to extol the virtues of Fr CG and states he had every right to express his views. But dear sir, it is not only “views’ ‘ he expressed! He claimed to know the identity of the “Mahamolakaraya” of the Easter Bombing, and insinuates Major General Suresh Salley having a clandestine association with him to the detriment of the nation! Surely, Dr. Fernando knows the difference between opinion and views that are based on true facts, as opposed to slander, mischief, or inciting the public by false rumours?

Finally, Dr. Fernando states he is not clear in what context Major General Suresh Salley’s name is mentioned by Fr. CG. This means that Dr. Fernando had not even listened to Fr. CG’s interview, prior to donning his garb as the gallant knight ready to defend the so-called victim!

Dr. Fernando and Fr.CG appear to be two peas in a pod!


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Building trust, a better investment



The government has allowed private companies to import chemical fertilisers. The farmers had been holding many a street protest against the government’s blatantly unwise policy of shifting to organic farming overnight, but to no avail. The Minister concerned and others repeatedly said that they would not change the government’s decision as it had been made for the good of all the people. The farmers had no problem with organic farming but insisted that the transition had to be phased out to avoid serious adverse effects. But no! The government never relented and tried to show that the street protests were instigated by interested parties including chemical fertiliser companies, to make the government unpopular. The government insisted that chemical fertilisers have caused many ailments including the dreaded kidney disease and turned a deaf ear to the farmers’ grievances.

However, hot on the heels of Mr. Modi’s U-turn last week, the Minister has changed track and tells us that the government, being one which is always ‘sensitive to people’s concerns’, has decided to make chemical fertilizers available through private imports, but would not import them on its own or change its policy of going fully organic. Questioned by journalists, another ruling party spokesperson quipped that the government’s decision came about neither due to the Indian PM’s ‘example’ nor in response to the loud protests. It is a result of the discussions held within the party, he assured.

However, it is unfortunate that the government had to wait for more than seven months to be ‘sensitive to peoples’ concerns’. If the ruling party members had only taken a few minutes to watch TV news headlines, they would have proved their ‘sensitivity’ months earlier, not waiting for Mr. Modi to steal a march on them, so to speak. To any reasonable person, the government obviously has responded to the rampant protests that were actually the climax of a prolonged process, which began with pleading, explaining their predicament, reasoning, chest thumping, expressing disbelief, which gradually culminated in loud protests, burning of effigies and threatening to come to Colombo in numbers. Surely, Mr. Modi didn’t make it any easier for the government to justify its ‘sensitivity’ to farmers’ grievances!

Thus, to any reasonable person, the government had actually responded to the unbridled anger of the helpless farmers, not to their grievances. What’s more, looking at how the government had handled the previous issues of a controversial nature, it is hard to recall any instance where it promptly responded to people’s concerns; it was always a case of responding to people vehemently protesting as a last resort- be it the Port City issue, Eastern Terminal, Teachers’ salary or Yugadanavi Power Plant issue, not to mention the pathetic state of innocent villagers being perpetually traumatized by wild elephant attacks often taking their lives wantonly. In each of these cases, the government, wittingly or unwittingly, seemed to regard the voices of concern, not as appeals worthy of serious attention, but as attempts at disruption or politically motivated interventions. This, surely, does not augur well for the government or support its claim to ‘sensitivity’ as regards people’s concerns.

The government’s decision to compromise on its strict chemical fertiliser ban, which has come soon after Mr. Modi’s reversal of sorts, allows room for the discerning public to make obvious inferences, despite the government’s claim about its decision not being influenced by that of the Indian PM. In fact, the government reps have nothing to gain by pretending to blush when journalists suggest that they perhaps took a leaf from their neighbour. Even at this juncture, people’s representatives seem reluctant to prefer sincerity to affectation; hence the government’s growing aloofness, which is causing a “severe trust deficit”- to borrow a pithy phrase from The Island editorial of November 19.

As the representatives of the public, what any government needs to foster are sincerity and empathy. It is this tacit bond between the people and the government, which will consolidate trust in the long term. Being the party that holds power, the onus is on the rulers to secure people’s faith. Instead, every party that has come to power since Independence has always helped the Opposition to make a five yearly ‘ritual cleansing’ in the eyes of the people. So, the wheel turns.

Susantha Hewa

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Don’t harass whistle-blower



Thushan Gunawardena, who alerted the authorities and the media to a serious fraud taking at Sathosa should not be harassed by the Police as it is clear that he has no political motives and has acted in the public interest.

The Cabinet minister concerned is attempting to show a conspiracy against him when he has failed to prevent such frauds at Sathosa and let it continue as there were benefits flowing to him in addition to his being able to employ family members and manipulate the system for personal profit.

It is patently clear that he is trying to take the investigation in a different direction and prevent changes that would clean up the mess that is contributing to the massive losses at Sathosa.

Mahinda Gunasekera

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Stanley (Sam) Samarasinghe




Even with the prior knowledge that the end was near, when the news of the passing away of Sam on the 23rd of November 2021 was conveyed to me, it was difficult to bear. Though living the better part of his adult life in the United States, to those with whom he had regular contact and dialogue, he was ever present. He succumbed to an illness that he bore with courage and fortitude for several years. In that time his enthusiasm to live his life to the full did not diminish. Except family and close friends none had even the slightest inkling that he was battling an invasive enemy within.

I have described Sam as a Patriot, if its definition is “one that loves his country and zealously maintains its interests”, then it fits him well, as he did that in full measure.

Having schooled in Kandy at Dharmarajah College, Sam completed a special degree in economics at the Peradeniya University where his father worked. Having being accepted by both Oxford and Cambridge Universities, he turned to his mentor, Professor H. A. de S. Gunasekera, who had advised him to take Cambridge. He went there with his wife Vidyamali, whom he had met at Peradeniya and obtained his Ph.D. in Economics. They both returned to Peradeniya and Sam became a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Economics. He taught there until 1989, when he left for the United States with his wife and two sons, Mevan and Ranmal. He was appointed Professor of the Development Studies Programme at the USAID, a position he held for many years in Washington. But what is remarkable, is that he continued his abiding interest in the many facets of Sri Lankan life, especially in education and politics and of course, Kandy. He returned to Sri Lanka at least twice a year. While others would spend such breaks as a let up from work, Sam vigorously involved himself in many spheres of activity.

Along with Prof. Kingsley de Silva, he created the only intellectual hub outside of the Peradeniya University in Kandy at the International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES). As Director, he secured funding for many academic projects that the Centre did. Sam was instrumental in the ICES buying its own place and then constructing a tarred road leading to the Center. The way he set about it will give the reader an idea of the man Sam was. The road served at least 12 houses. He arranged a meeting of all the householders and sold them a deal that none could refuse. Each household was asked to pay proportionately to the distance from the main Peradeniya Road to their house. At the end of the exercise. Sam refunded the excess in that same proportion!!

Sam was an academic, researching and writing extensively, sometimes collaborating with other academics such as Prof. Kingsley de Silva and Prof. G.H. (Gerry) Peiris. On several occasions, he brought out his post graduate students from the Tulane University, New Orleans (where he was Visiting Professor of Economics) to Sri Lanka and to Kandy, arranged field trips and had them interact with academics and professionals.

His particular interest in Kandy made him do a study of its traffic congestion and organised a public seminar with other experts on the subject. As the President of the Senkadagala Lions Club, Sam obtained funding for many of its projects. In fact, Sam had a penchant for writing up project proposals, an expertise he ungrudgingly shared with anyone who asked for it. He started a monthly local newspaper in 1994, the “Kandy News”, becoming its Chief Editor and its main sponsor. The last issue was a special supplement done in the run-up to the Kandy Municipal Council election in 2018.

When the tsunami stuck the country in 2004, Sam was the lead Consultant of a World Vision programme designed to make a qualitative assessment of tsunami and non-tsunami villages from Kalutara in the Western Province to Kilinochchi in the Northern Province. A task he successfully completed with his team under the aegis of the ICES.

He was an advocate for cooperation and harmony among the races. His involvement in the post tsunami work in Jaffna and Trincomalee with the Lions Club is proof of that, as much as it was when he asked the guests to the nuptial reception of his son Mevan, not to give presents but to contribute towards the project initiated by Mevan and himself in giving school books and equipment to the Tamil Primary School at the Gomorra Estate in Panwila.

My own association with Sam goes back to the time I ran for office as Mayor in 1997. He threw his weight behind me helping out in ways too numerous to mention. That friendship grew and grew and it embraced my family as well. He would ask me to criticise his writing especially on politics. He was a stickler for accuracy and uncompromising on facts. His opinions were rational, practical and unbiased. A bubbly personality, he was always a believer that there are better times ahead. His enthusiasm was infectious. His criticism of events and people were never personal. There is much to take from the life and times of Sam Samarasinghe.

We share his loss with his wife, the two boys of whom he was justly very proud of and his siblings whose welfare he always had. The country is poorer for his passing.

May he find peace in Nibbana!

Harindra Dunuwille

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