By Yoshitha Perera
The failure of the Nuwara Eliya Police to find anything suspicious from a search operation carried out on May 8, 2018 at a lodge where National Thawheed Jama’at (NTJ) Leader Zahran Hashim was operating a training camp, enabled Zahran and the NTJ associates to escape from the Police, it was informed yesterday at the PCoI probing Easter Sunday attacks.
Testifying before the Commission, officer attached to PCoI police unit, SI Sanjeewa Sampath of CID said that a resident who lives in close proximity to the lodge had alerted former IGP Pujith Jayasundara about a suspicious group that was occupying the lodge.
“Thilakaratne Illesinghe, a resident who lives close to Thakhila Holiday Inn, where Zahran had been operating his training camp, tried to contact Nuwara Eliya Police station. As his attempt proved futile, he called former IGP Jayasundara,” officer said. The representative from the Attorney General’s (AG) Department then questioned the witness from where he had found IGP’s contact number and the witness said that he had noted it down from a TV programme telecast earlier.
In his statement, the witness quoted Illesinghe as saying that the group that occupied the lodge did not frequent outside like other guests who visit Nuwara Eliya and also said that these people were discussing about some weapons and money that were to be taken to Kattankudy. Though Mr. Illesinghe had alerted the Police about NTJ group’s clandestine activities in the morning, three police officers came around 4.00 pm to search the lodge, but they could not find anything suspicious from within,” officer told the Commission.
During the inquiry, the investigations officer also said that the police officers of the PCoI were aware that Zharan was preaching Islamic extremism and his associates had been conducting training programmes on how to handle weapons and assembling bombs.