IGP Pujith Jayasundara, who testified before the select committee appointed to look into the Easter Sunday attacks, today revealed that President Maithripala Sirisena had offered to give him an ambassador’s post if he accepts the responsibility for the failure to prevent the bomb attacks on April 21 and resigned from his post. He said President had promised to clear his name if he resigned. Following are excerpts of the testimony of IGP Jayasundara. In it, he revealed that he had not been allowed to participate in security council meetings since October 2018 but was called in once to discuss the transfer of an officer. Mr. Jayasundara claimed that he was being used a scapegoat in this scenario.
Dr. Jayampathi Wickramaratne acting Chairman of the Select Committee -Mr. Jayasundara tell us about your career
I joined as an Assistant Superintendent of Police in 1985. Two others were recruited together with me. After training, I was promoted as a Superintendent of Police in 1994 and then became an SSP in 1996. I was promoted as a DIG in 2005. I became the IGP on April 20, 2016.
Dr. Jayampathi Wickramaratne- Are there any divisions which come directly under you?
Yes the DIG in charge of the CID was placed under me. I took the TID under my purview as the need arose. Nalaka Silva was in charge of it at that time. I cannot remember the date. Maybe in 2017.
Dr. Wickramaratne –Send us a chart
Acting IGP will do it if you ask. I don’t have the power to do it now
Dr. Wickramaratne – The SIS Director reports to you?
No. The Police came under the Defence Ministry initially. Then the need arose to work with the tri-forces as a result of terrorism. A Law and Order Ministry was created later. The Police came under his purview
Dr. Wickramaratne –The norm is that the police comes under another ministry, not the Defence Ministry
Yes. Police was put under the purview of the Defence Ministry later. SIS officers were under the Defence Ministry though they were police officers.
Field Marshal Sarath Fonskea – To whom does the SIS Director report to?
To the Secretary, Ministry of Defence.
MP M. A Sumanthiran –You are saying that SIS officers, though they belong to the police, come under another ministry
It was sort of a setting.
MP Sumanthiran – Was there a formal setting?
I don’t know. I have never been to intelligence offices as the IGP. I tried to build a relationship with that unit but there were no results.
In what era did the reporting to the Defence Secretary, even if you belong to another ministry, begin?
I cannot remember clearly. It was the form during the early stages of my career.
Field Marshal Fonseka- If an SIS Director receives any information he has to report to the Defence Secretary?
Yes, that's how it should be done. However, there are instances where the form is changed.
DR Nalinda Jayatissa- What's the procedure to be followed when the police need support for an operation?
It depends on the information that is available. It is possible to talk with the relevant SDIG. STF support could be sought.
MP Ashu Marasinghe – Does the weekly reports of the SIS come to you?
Not on a weekly basis but according to its importance. The SIS is bound to send reports to the Defence Secretary
MP Marasinghe Do you get those reports?
No, not all
MP Marasinghe –When you get a report what do you do?
I ask for a review. However, I have delegated the responsibility to my senior DIGs to deal with it in an emergency. I don’t put the letterhead on it on these occasions.
Dr. Wickramaratne – You are a member of the Security Council?
Dr. Wickramaratne –Did you participate in all the Security Council meetings from the time you were appointed IGP?
I participated from April 20, 2016, till October 2018. However, I came there on October 23 to discuss the transfer of an officer. I was advised by members of the select committee that I was not needed at the meeting.
You said several members of the select committee told you not to stay, who are they?
I was advised verbally by the then Defence Secretary Kapila Waidyaratne not to stay. He said I was not needed. I then asked whether I should send a representative to the meetings. They said there was no need for it.
Dr Rajitha Senaratne – Is the IGP a permanent member of the National Security Council?
Dr Senaratne –How can such an important member be excluded and how can you stay away just because someone told you not to attend.
It was not just somebody. It was our Defence Secretary. How can I question his reasons for it?
Field Marshal Fonseka- You did not participate in the security council meetings until the April 21 tragedy took place?
I participated on October 23, 2018. I suspected that they did not trust me. On that day the discussion was about a transfer of an officer. We agreed and disagreed.
MP Sumanthiran –You think you were excluded because of the issues pertaining to the transfer?
I don’t know
MP Sumanthiran – Transfer was regarding IP Nishantha Silva
Yes. The transfer was originated by me and it was I who cancelled it. I gave the transfer with the consent of the police commission. IP Nishantha was involved in several abduction cases. It may be that they wanted him out of the investigations.
MP Sumanthiran -Was there any pressure for you transfer him?
Yes, from the President.
Dr. Senaratne –Did the President give any reason for this?
No, However I think it may be because of the investigations that were ongoing.
MP Jayatissa –Did DIG Nalaka Silva recommended banning the National Thowheed Jamaath?
There are documents. Give me time to give a detailed explanation. There was a notion just after the Easter Sunday attacks that the IGP was responsible. This is the very first opportunity I am getting a chance to state my case. The State Intelligence Service (SIS) report contradicts the Terrorist Investigation Department (TID) report. I was informed of the impending attacks on April 9, 2019. The TID report was specific about the attacks as it mentioned the plan to attack churches and the Indian High Commission. He said the SIS report which he received on the same day wasn't specific about the places that were targeted. The intelligence report went public through an officer. It went to this officer because I took action. There was a meeting at the Defence Ministry on April 9, 2019. I participated in it. The intelligence report was not discussed. They said the progress will be notified later.
Rauff Hakeem-This was not discussed as the main topic?
Yes. Then I got a letter from the SIS Director. It contained same information. There was information on a suicide attack on important churches. However they were not named. They have mentioned the Indian High Commission. The information specified was sketchy, but I was ordered to take action.
MP Jayatissa–The Chief of National Intelligence who wanted you to take action on this information comes under the Defence Secretary?
Whatever it has he issued an order. Then I decided to inform four DIGs including DIG Western Province, Kandy and Head of the STF about the threat. There was an investigation going on into an organisation called National Thowheed Jamaath but it had been stopped for some reason. Islamic extremists started their activities from 2012/2013. Nalaka Silva was appointed at that time. He was a capable officer. SIS reports say there was no information on the specific targets of Zaharan. We, however, provided STF protection to the Indian High Commission.
At this point, IGP Jayasundara was allowed to make a statement on what happened after April 21. He continued the statement despite minor interruptions whenever slight clarifications were needed.
The members asked about the Security Council meeting he attended on April 23, 2019, and the meeting he had with the President. Mr. Jayasundara initially refused to discuss these matters in front of the cameras but MP Sumanthiran said he should testify as details have gone in the affidavit he had submitted to courts.
MP Sumanthiran – What is stated in the affidavit is now public
I did not publish anything.
MP Sumanthiran-It goes public after it is submitted to the court
Dr. Wickramaratne –These are not sensitive information that affects the security of the country.
President Sirisena called me on April 23 this year and wanted me to come and meet him later on that day. I did meet him later that day. He informed me that I as the IGP was responsible for the tragedy. He said he cannot accept the responsibility for it as he was not informed of the impending bomb attacks beforehand. Therefore he said I have to accept the responsibility. The President added that I will be definitely found guilty by the three-member commission which he was going to appoint. He said I will be cleared if I resigned. He said I will go without a pension if I am found guilty. He offered me an ambassador’s post if I agreed to his request. “I served the police for 35 years. Therefore I did not want to betray the department. Then I thought of my family including the fate they would suffer if I lose my pension. After taking all this into consideration I decided against resigning. I got another phone call from the President. He seemed to be annoyed. He said he had not got an answer from me regarding his request for me to resign. I was sent on compulsory leave later. I was used as a scapegoat. I did not testify to score marks or to put anyone in difficulty,” he said.
Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka -Grass route level officials in the defence establishments cannot take action on their own without orders from those who are in charge of the defence sector. The decision to go for a war to get Mavil Aru opened was made by those in the highest echelons of the defence sector.
Field Marshal Fonseka - Did DIG Nalaka Silva obtain an open warrant against National Thowheed Jamaath (NTJ) Leader Zaharan? Yes. DIG Nalaka did obtain an open warrant against Zaharan and then went on to get a blue notice from the Interpol. I got him to brief President Sirisena on the impending threats from the NTJ on three separate occasions.
I had information on the Easter Sunday attacks on April 18 and 19. The then Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando phoned me on April 21 and warned him that there would be an attack the following day. Additionally, Defence Secretary at around 7.30 am on Easter Sunday warned that something would happen on that day. I informed the DIGs in all provinces from the day I received a prior warning. Security was beefed up around the Indian High Commissioner. Security officers of VIPs were informed about the attacks. They are usually informed but these matters are not revealed to the VIPs themselves. (Yohan Perera and Ajith Siriwardana)