By Ajith Siriwardana and Yohan Perera
Former OIC of the Kattankudy Police Ariyabandu Wedagedara said he had not received any complaints of Zahran’s extremist activities except for some clashes between Muslim sects in Kattankudy over religious matters.
He said this testifying before the Parliamentary Select Committee appointed to probe the Easter Sunday Attack.
Following are the excerpts of the proceedings:
Ananda Kumarasiri: Were you aware of extremist elements during that time between August 2014 and July 2017? Did you receive complaints on extremist elements operating at village level?
OIC: There were no complaints on extremism. There were only clashes between various clans such as NTJ and SLTJ.
AK: Who had the majority – the radicalised youths or traditional Muslims?
OIC: The majority are the traditional Muslims. They were against the radicalised organizations.
Rajitha: There had been several complaints lodged at the Kattankudy Police against extremist elements. Didn’t you inform the police headquarters about the extremist organisations emerging in the area and resorting to violence.
OIC: No sir, we did not report of an extremist trend. When there was an incident, we report it.
Rajitha: Zahran and his group had used swords, knives and clubs.
OIC: It happened on March 10, 2017
Sumanthiran: Was Zahran there in the incident?
OIC: Yes, he was there. It was a clash between two large groups of people.
Sumanthiran: Why Zahran was not arrested?
OIC: Zahran, Rilvan and Army Mohideen fled the scene
Nalinda: What were the powers Zahran had by 2015 during election time?
OIC: As to my knowledge, during election time, the groups get strengthened as politicians try to garner their votes. That is why they were strengthened.
Sumanthiran: Previous witnesses said police had provided loudspeakers for Zahran’s campaigns despite objections by other people.
OIC: Meetings are organized by all groups. We only consider if the meeting is held at the area of the mosque. They discuss about their various ideologies during those meetings which led to violence.
Nalinda: Several organizations had complained to you against extremist elements. Why couldn’t you take action against them? Were you under pressure?
OIC: No, sir
Sumanthiran: There was a protest by the villagers to arrest Zahran. Were you transferred on this incident?
OIC: No sir, I had completed my three years.
Jayampathy Wickramaratne: What was the role of Army Mohideen during election campaigns in 2015? Under whom was he working?
OIC: He was with Provincial Councillor Shibly Farook.
Sumanthiran: If I say police also had connection with Army Mohideen?
OIC: No sir, it is wrong.
Sumanthiran: Why was he called Army Mohideen?
OIC: He is an army informant
Nalinda: It was said that Army Mohideen could not be arrested as he had connection with Kattankudy Police?
OIC: No, sir. Not at all .