By Darshana Sanjeewa Balasuriya
Defence Secretary Kamal Gunaratne said that security agencies had received 97 warnings prior to the Easter Sunday attacks.
He expressed these views addressing a gathering of professionals at a session themed ‘Post Covid-19 Renaissance – Present and future development of Sri Lanka’, organised by the ‘Harimaga’ Organisation at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute on Friday.
He said that despite receiving early warnings of the impending attacks 97 times by the security agencies, those who were responsible had overlooked its graveness and severity and failed to prevent the carnage that left over 290 dead and approximately 500 injured.
“Our military intelligence operatives were imprisoned and harassed leaving a huge dearth in our intelligence apparatus which also paved the path for the extremists to operate scout free and under the radar,” he said.
“Last week, we recovered over 1.5 kgs of high explosives and some 90 odd detonators from Mannar. In addition, the military has also taken a few remote control devices into custody. If we also overlooked those incidents, none of these would have been recovered. We will never leave room for separatism from the North to rise nor extremism from the East to spread fear and destruction in this country ever,” Maj. Gen. Gunaratne stressed.
Maj. Gen. (Retd) Kamal Gunaratne also said that national security and defence were paramount for country’s development.
He said without securing them, it was impossible for a country to progress and develop.
Maj. Gen. Gunaratne emphasised that national security and defence were also crucial in attracting much needed direct investment to the country.
“Though separatism was militarily defeated in May 2009, we need to eliminate the separatist ideology which a few individuals of the Tamil diaspora are constantly sponsoring,” Maj. Gen. Gunaratne said.
He said 12,242 ex-LTTE cadres were rehabilitated and reintegrated into the society during the post-war period and that some remnant front organisations of the LTTE were still attempting to indoctrinate and recruit these individuals to fuel their separatist cause for financial gains.
The Defence Secretary explained the steps taken to eliminate drug syndicates that had been operating from prison cells.
“To put plans to the right direction in fighting the drug menace and organised crimes operated from the prisons, first we appointed capable officers in charge of the Prisons Department and the Police Special Task Force,” he said.
Highlighting the initiatives taken to change the existing system in prisons, Maj. Gen. Gunaratne said while a maximum security prison was already under construction to imprison notorious criminals and drug smugglers, mobile phone jammers had already been installed at the Boossa and the Angunakolapelessa prisons.
He also revealed plans to address the welfare issues of prison inmates and also to reduce overcrowding in prisons.
“We have taken several measures to increase facilities to rehabilitate drug addicts. A special Centre with state-of-the art facilities to accommodate over 1,000 inmates is now under construction in Nittambuwa. Another facility to be constructed to accommodate 2,000 inmates at Weerawila”, he added.
The Defence Secretary highlighted the plans to curb illegal sand mining and minimise illegal encroachments especially in the Western Province.
According to the Defence Secretary, a special unit has been established at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to investigate public complaints.
Commandant of the Police Special Task Force (STF) DIG Waruna Jayasundara, Commissioner General of Prisons Thushara Upuldeniya, Chairperson ‘Harimaga’ organisation Kanishka De Silva were also present at the occasion.
- those who were responsible had overlooked its graveness and severity and failed to prevent the carnage that left over 290 dead and approximately 500 injured