IGP Pujith Jayasundara who testified before the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) appointed to look into the Easter Sunday attacks yesterday said President Maithripala Sirisena offered him an ambassador’s post and to clear him if he accepts the responsibility for the failure to prevent the bomb attacks on April 21 and resigned from his post.
“President Sirisena called me on April 23 this year and wanted me to come and meet him later on the same day. I did meet him later on 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,” Mr. Jayasundara said.
“I have been in the police service for 35 years. Therefore I did not want to betray the police. Then I thought of my family including the fate they would suffer if I lose my pension. After taking into consideration all these I decided against resigning. I got another phone call from the President on May 5, 2019. The President seemed to be annoyed. He said he didn’t get a word from me regarding his request. I was sent on compulsory leave later. I was used as a scapegoat,” he added.
Mr. Jayasundara initially refused to testify these matters before the media but the acting Chairman of the Commission Dr. Jayampathi Wickremaratne and member of the Commission MP M. A. Sumanthiran stated that there is nothing wrong in testifying these matters in front of the media as the affidavit which Mr. Jayasundara has submitted to courts had already become a public document. Mr. Jayasundara came up with these details thereafter.
Mr. Jayasundara then added that he had no ulterior motives behind the disclosures. “I did not testify to score marks or to put anyone in difficulty,” he said.
Mr. Jayasundara then said a national security protocol failure and a systems failure had occurred. Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka then suggested that officers down the line in the defence establishments cannot take action on their own without orders of those who are in charge of the defence sector. Citing an example, he said the decision to go for a war to get Mavil Aru opened was made by those in the highest level in the defence sector. He then asked whether Mr. Jayasundara would agree to his point. The latter said he agrees.
Responding to a question raised by Field Marshal Fonseka on the disclosure made by DIG Nalaka De Silva about the open warrant obtained against National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ) Leader Zahran, Mr. Jayasundara said DIG De Silva did obtain an open warrant against Zahran and then went on to get a blue notice from the Interpol.
Also, Mr. Jayasundara revealed that he got DIG De Silva to brief President Sirisena on the impending threats from the NTJ on three occasions.
Further, he revealed that he was informed of the impending attacks on April 9 2019. He said the TID report was specific about the attacks as it mentioned about the plan to attack churches and the Indian High Commission. He said the report from the State Intelligence Service which he received on the same day did not mention specifically about the places which were under threat.
Responding to questions raised by Field Marshal Fonseka and MP Nalinda Jayatissa on the information received regarding the Easter Sunday attacks, he said he obtained reports on the attacks on April 18 and 19.
He said the then Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando telephoned him on April 20, 2019 and warned him that there would be an attack on the following day. Also he said the Defence Secretary warned him around 7.30 a.m. on Easter Sunday that something would happen on that day. He said he informed the DIGs in all provinces from the day he received a prior warning while security was provided to the Indian High Commission.
He added that security officers of VIPs were informed about the attacks. He revealed that the PSOs of VIPs were informed though the matters are not revealed to the VIPs themselves. “I did not get an opportunity to reveal the truth and therefore I am revealing everything today,” he said.
Earlier during the day Mr. Jayasundra revealed that he was not invited to participate in the National Security Council meeting although he was an ex-officio member of it. He said he was kept out of the Security Council meeting from October 2018. However he was not sure of the exact date from which he was kept out. Mr. Jayasundara then went on to explain that he was called to the Security Council meeting on October 23, 2018.
He said former Defence Secretary Kapila Waidyaratne had informed him that President Sirisena had wanted him kept out of the Security Council meeting. Minister Rajitha Senaratne questioned why Mr. Jayasundara did not inquire as to why he was kept out of the Security Council. Mr. Jayasundara said he did not do so as that was not a practice.
The IGP elaborated on the Security Council meeting on October 23 where he was asked about IP Nishantha Silva who was handling the youth abduction case. “I was asked to transfer him. I did this reluctantly as Nisantha was a good officer,”
Dr. Jayampathi Wickramaratne said Mr. Jayasundara would be called in again to testify before the select committee if needed. Mr. Jayasundara at this point requested not to summon him again. (By Yohan Perera and Ajith Siriwardena)
Pix by Pradeep Dilrukshana