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Probe recent arrests of Sri Lankan abroad on terror charges

20 May 2014 07:16 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The government of Sri Lanka must join hands with the Indian authorities in the investigations into the case of Sri Lankan national Zakir Hussain, arrested in Chennai on April 29 under India’s anti- terror laws. The subsequent arrest in Malaysia of another Sri Lankan, allegedly connected to the Chennai arrest and whose identity has not been thus far revealed, needs to be fully investigated by the Sri Lankan authorities in order to ascertain the true and complete sequence of events and allegations. These are essential steps that need to be taken in the interest of the country, to pre-empt foreign interference in Sri Lankan affairs and also to respond to exaggerated international media speculations and false intelligence leaks that are often hyped up when it comes to the arrest of Muslims.

The Government’s obligation in these types of cases is not merely to watch the interests of the Sri Lankans but also to cooperate with Indian investigators for a full and fair investigation. The Sri Lankan team needs to gain access to the Sri Lankan nationals forthwith, ascertain the nature and the contents of statements and other material attributed to them and others involved and coordinate in particular the Sri Lankan side of the investigations. An impartial but meticulous investigation is vital to ascertain the true implications of these arrests and to take appropriate remedial action.

Following the end of the war, unfounded allegations had been made against Sri Lanka from time to time by external entities. On June 19, 2009, within a month of the LTTE’s defeat, the US State Department reported to India, according to Wiki Leaks, that Pakistan based Lashker-e- Taiba(LeT) had established a facilitation centre in Sri Lanka. Then in September 2010, Indian intelligence leaked to the media that the Maharashtra bakery bomber, Himayat Baig had claimed while in Indian police custody that he was trained in Colombo.

 On  July 8, 2013, within 24 hours of a few improvised bombs exploding in the world renowned Mahabodhi in Buddha-Gaya, India’s National Security Advisor Shiv Shanker Menon, told top authorities here that the bombs had been planted by Muslim extremists, while India’s National Investigations Agency even after months of comprehensive investigations could not trace the perpetrators of the blasts. On August 22, 2013, Indian intelligence leaked another story to the media that intelligence had been received that LeT was preparing for an attack on South India from Jaffna.  All these claims turned out to be absolute falsehoods, planted with subversive objectives!

"Arundhati Roy, writing on the trial of Afzal Guru had included in her book the text of a recorded interview with a top Indian police officer Davinder Singh, Deputy Superintendent of  India’s Special Task Force (STF) admitting the atrocious torture methods he had employed in questioning terror suspects"


The spectre of the ‘Muslim terrorist’ has been used since 9/11 to legitimize invasions and hegemony. Described as the ‘worst of the worst’ Muslims have been locked up in terror cells from Guantanamo Bay to Bagram to be released several years later without any charge.
It is in this background that Sri Lanka needs to ensure that the arrest of any Sri Lankan is not misdirected to achieve the geo-political objectives of world or regional powers. Sri Lanka must be vigilant in this regard as false pretexts could easily be employed by external powers to legitimise entry to the country, as seen in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

The Supreme Court of India in the well-known Afzal Guru’s case, related to the attack on the Indian Parliament, noted that police had violated legal safeguards, fabricated evidence and extracted false confessions from suspects in custody. This indeed has become a common occurrence! India’s celebrated award winning writer Arundhati Roy, writing on the trial of Afzal Guru had included in her book the text of a recorded interview with a top Indian police officer Davinder Singh, Deputy Superintendent of  India’s Special Task Force (STF) admitting the atrocious torture methods he had employed in questioning terror suspects. Torture does not necessarily bring out the truth but often it is abused to inveigle others whom authorities often want implicated!

In this regard, Dr. Rohan Gunaratna of Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University has told P. K. Balachandran of Indian Express that Zakir Hussain was planning to attack targets not only in India but also in Sri Lanka and Maldives! Allegations of ‘planning’, ‘thinking’, ‘conspiring’ are easy to make. But on what evidence has he made this accusation? He must disclose the evidence and sources to the Sri Lanka police chief and facilitate a full investigation. This is vital in view of foreign power play in the region targeting Sri Lanka. The danger is that this Sri Lankan in captivity in Chennai, could be made use of through forced confessions to widen foreign intermeddling into Sri Lankan affairs, as one of several long term external strategies to destabilise Sri Lanka. Zakir Hussain could become only the beginning of such a process, unless the government intervenes to follow up thoroughly on every new allegation that will be thrown up.
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