By D.B.S. Jeyaraj
A striking facet of Gotabhaya Rajapakse’s intriguing personality is the candour he displays in some media interviews. Instead of bluffing, sidestepping or trying to wriggle out of answering tricky questions the Defence secretary responds directly and fields them in a frank,forthright manner.
This characteristic was very much evident in the telephonic interview given by the Presidential sibling on Wednesday Feb 10th evening to Ravi Velloor of the Singapore-based “Straits Times” barely 48 hours after the controversial arrest and detention of ex-Army commander and defeated Presidential elections candidate General Sarath Fonseka.
General Sarath Fonseka’s rally at Panadura-Jan 2009
Given the furore surrounding the arrest one may have expected the Defence secretary to be a little evasive or “diplomatic” in commenting about the retired four-star general but Gotabhaya-true to form-was bluntly open and pulled no punches in answering.
When Velloor raised the issue of Govt fears that Fonseka was conspiring to lead a coup attempt Gotabhaya did not mince his words in replying. This is what he said-
“He was planning on a military rule. It was very clear in the latter stages, in the way he had spoken and addressed the people. He said he wouldn’t allow the politicians to rob the military of the victory they had achieved and offer a political solution.
He was completely trying to isolate the politics and take the country on a different path. In his very last stages as army commander he began bringing his people into Colombo and his regiment, positioning his senior regiment people all over.
All these things were looking like a military coup. He also took a keen interest in changing the previous navy commander (who was not well inclined towards him).”
Whatever the merits or otherwise of the Defence secretary’s response, it certainly seemed to have impressed the newspaper concerned as the highlight of the interview. So much so that the heading given to the feature was “He was definitely planning a Coup”.
The defence secretary’s bold assertion that his former comrade at arms was planning a coup d’etat is perhaps the crucial factor governing the conduct of this Government towards the former Army commander and ex-Chief of Defence staff.
Rightly or wrongly the Rajapakse regime has been entertaining suspicion and fear for a long time that Sarath Fonseka was plotting a coup against it. This paranoia or reasonable caution, depending on how one perceives it, explains much of the government’s rationale in dealing with the Fonseka phenomenon before and after the Presidential elections.
It appears that the Govt is in possession of some information about the possibility of a coup engineered by Sarath Fonseka. Of course the ex-army chief has strongly denied such an allegation but nevertheless the regime has gone ahead and arrested Fonseka in a crude display of power.
Apart from detaining Fonseka the Government is also conducting a multi-level investigation into what it sees as a coup d’etat in the making. This includes not only probes into the conduct of serving and ex – military personnel but also that of the pseudo-marxist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna(JVP).
It remains to be seen as to whether these investigations would uncover genuine evidence about a coup being planned or not. However the powers that be seem convinced that there really was a plot and are determined to identify and charge the culprits.
On the other hand there is much doubt about this coup conspiracy theory. Many see it as a total fabrication aimed at stifling the chief Presidential contender and his political allies. The real conspiracy they say is not the alleged coup conspiracy but that of the ruling regime planning to penalise Sarath Fonseka through false accusations.
Before his arrest, Sarath Fonseka had vehemently denied that he was plotting a coup. Had he wanted to capture power while in office as Army chief it would have been a simple matter to send a few battalions down to Colombo and take over the Government, he pointed out.
Later when the Lakeside Cinnamon Hotel was besieged amidst charges of a coup d’etat being planned there, the General again dismissed them saying that nobody would try and stage a coup from that Hotel. Besides, Fonseka said that his wife and daughters were with him there. After his arrest Mrs. Anoma Fonseka has also emphatically denied that a coup was ever planned at that Hotel.
These denials notwithstanding the Government is firmly of the opinion that a coup with wide –ranging implications had been planned and that the JVP too was linked to the conspiracy. Despite charges of political vendetta being levelled against it, the Govt has thought it fit to go ahead and arrest the chief Presidential challenger.
Against that backdrop the situation seems to be that of the Govt procuring enough evidence through interrogation and investigation to construct an effective case against Sarath Fonseka over a coup d’etat conspiracy. It also appears that the Govt will resort to both a court-martial by a military tribunal as well as an indictment under the penal code in a civil court.
At this point of time the state is yet to garner sufficient evidence warranting speedy action against Sarath Fonseka and his alleged chorts in a coup conspiracy. But informed sources revealed that much progress has been made in pursuing a line of inquiry into an alleged coup d’etat conspiracy. These sources seemed confident that a valid indictment and trial would materialise very soon.
One does not know at this juncture whether the state would be able to prove charges about a coup conspiracy against Sarath Fonseka or not. However there seems little doubt that such an attempt would definitely be made.In fact it may be the pivotal issue in any legal action contemplated.
Fear or suspicion about a military coup was at the heart of deteriorating relations between the Rajapakse brothers and Fonseka. The gradual erosion of confidence has reached this sorry state of affairs today.
A brief examination of the recent past concerning the coup conspiracy factor would be of relevance in understanding the current course of events.
Even as the war spearheaded by Sarath Fonseka was raging against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE) the President and his siblings got worried about Sarath Fonseka carving up a little empire of his own within the military establishment.
The unorthodox scheme of promotions implemented by Fonseka enabled seniority and experience being overlooked in favour of merit and performance. In the process several positions in the captain to Colonel ranks were filled by persons regarded as Sarath’s favourites. Many of Fonseka’s cronies were also appointed gradually to key posts and strategically important positions.
The situation was further aggravated by Fonseka making two “excessive” demands. One was that the Army’s strength should be raised to 400,000 and he be made a Field Marshall. The other was that at least one battalion should be stationed or deployed in every town in Sri Lanka from Paruthithurai (Point Pedro) in the North to Devinuwara (Dondra) in the South.
Both these requests aroused suspicion amidst the Rajapakse fraternity. It was further compounded by Fonseka’s elaborate plans to set up “cantonment townships ” housing soldier families in various parts of the Country with particular emphasis on the North and East. He also had plans of independent economic projects capable of generating sustainable funds for maintaining these townships.
What Fonseka’s motives were in making these demands is not known but they were viewed with suspicion as they had the potential of militarising society on a massive scale. Besides the scheme if implemented would place troops and families loyal to Fonseka throughout the length and breadth of the Country. In short a configuration of territorially non-contiguous pro-Fonseka units would be established.
Being an adroit politician Mahinda Rajapakse did not veto Fonseka’s proposals when the war was on as he did not want to alientate the astute general but when the army triumphed over the tigers the Machiavelli of Medamulana began moving deftly.
When Fonseka reiterated his twin demands in the wake of military victory the commander was given a rude shock. Both demands were turned down. Furthermore President Rajapakse informed him very correctly that there was no need of a huge army in post-war Sri Lanka and that gradual downsizing would soon be underway
This infuriated Fonseka who indicated his displeasure. Thereafter the army chief started making derogatory remarks about the President and the Defence secretary. He also commenced talking of becoming the president through elections or any means. Fonseka also effected changes within the officer echelons and moved his loyalists to Colombo and key positions.
Perturbed by this trend the President and Defence secy struck swiftly and in July last year removed Fonseka as Army chief and appointed him as chief of Defence staff. On this occasion too the President was to emphasise that there was no need for a big army and once again referred to the Burma (Myanmar)example.
This rankled so much that when Fonseka quit his post in November 2009 he specifically referred to it in his publicised resignation letter.
Here is the excerpt-
“Your Excellency, you too made a statement at the very first security council soon after the 18th of May 09 when the battled was declared over, to the extent that “a strong public opinion is in the making to say that the Country is in possession of a too powerful army, which will lead Sri Lanka to another State like that of Myanmar”. It was surprising to hear such a comment from Your Excellency in spite of your repeated praise and boast of the war victory brought about by the same Army. I personally felt that Your Excellency has commenced mistrusting your own loyal Army which attained the unimaginable victory just a week ago. You again repeated the same statement even after I handed over the command. Over these comments I felt disgusted as these comments indirectly insulted those who made the supreme sacrifice during the war victory”.
After Fonseka was kicked upstairs as Chief of defence staff, Jagath Jayasuriya who ranked no 9 in seniority was made Army commander. Thereafter a number of internal appointments,transfers and changes were made within the military structure. Many of the Fonseka loyalists were moved out to non-strategic positions. The Fonseka effect was being steadily reversed. This too irritated Sarath who mentioned it in his resignation letter. Here is the excerpt-
“The present Army Commander immediately on assuming duties commenced transferring senior officers who immensely contributed to the war effort during my command tenure including those junior officers working with my wife at the Seva Vanitha Army Branch which was involved in looking after the welfare of the troops, was clearly to challenge the loyalty of officers and most discouraging to the officer corps of the Army, with a wrong signal being transmitted on my authority”.
These contentious issues were indicators of the on-going cold war between the Rajapakses and Fonseka. The Ambalangoda Lion’s mane was being clipped to prevent him retaining a power base within the army. The objective was to pre-empt a possible coup d’etat by Fonseka with the help of his loyalists in the Army.
The simmering tension came out in the open after Fonseka quit the service and threw his beret into the Presidential stakes arena. The facade of civility was torn down as the race gathered momentum.
Though Fonseka was backed by a motley crew of political parties , the presidential aspirant relied greatly on the Triple “A” factor. His core supporters and elections staff were from his ancestral village Ambalangoda, his Alma mater Ananda College and the service arm to which he devoted 40 years of his life-the Army.
Of these three namely Ambalangoda, Ananda and Army, it was the Army that Fonseka relied most on. This was natural as his entire adult life was intet-twined with the Army. Besides after decades of being within the military milieu it was easier for him to interact with those of a military background than civilians. For one thing they followed orders without question.
There was also the need for security. The war against the LTTE had been fought conventionally and unconventionally. Terror had been met with counter –terror. From disappearances to deaths from abductions to assassinations various stratagems had been adopted. In such a situation Fonseka had no illusions about what he was up against. He feared assassination and assembled his own bunch of security personnel.
Thus many persons with a military background were made welcome in the Fonseka elections camp. Several retired army men from those of Major-general rank to lowly privates gravitated towards Fonseka.
Expatriate Retired Army officers from the USA to Australia came down to Sri Lanka to help General Fonseka.Several Army deserters also joined in and were accepted. Also some serving soldiers simply vacated posts and teamed up with Fonseka. This too was encouraged.
Fonseka demonstrated his disregard for military discipline by encouraging desertions and accepting deserters into his campaign folds. He set the wrong precedent right at the start of his campaign when his earlier security contingent was reduced. Fifteen of the original detail were from the military intelligence. Most of these men did not report for duty when recalled but opted to stay on with the General who to his discredit encouraged it. Fonseka also refused to return some of the Army vehicles allocated to him earlier.
This flagrant violation of military norms and etiquette by a senior ex-army commander set the wrong precedent. Since the election campaign was on, the Army hierarchy was constrained from taking drastic action as it would have been portrayed in a negative light. So the defence top brass silently stomached these grave breaches of discipline.
Adding to Army woes was the support retained by Fonseka in the service. An intelligence assessment in late December/early January estimated it at 75 -80% in the rank and file and around 40% among officers. Aggravating the situation further was the blatant partisanship showed by several serving officers towards Fonseka.
The ex-army chief continued to be in touch with former colleagues and subordinates . Politicisation of the military had reached peak levels and the Army as an institution was getting divided horizontally and vertically.
What troubled the Govt further was the nature and number of the “unofficial” security personnel converging around the “Swan”. The numbers were far in excess of what was actually required for bona fide security purposes.
Most of them were deserters and seemed well-armed. Some retired officers were in charge. Some ex-army officers were scouring the country inviting ex-army men to come and join the general’s team An illegal “Militia” in-formation was perceptible.
There was also much communication between Fonseka camp activists and those serving in the Army. This contact was both on the officer and ranker levels. This too was a cause for concern.
Complicating matters further was the JVP factor. In a bid to encourage and expand recruitment during the war the Rajapakse regime had allowed an unprecedented extent of politicisation of the military. Both the JVP and Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) had been allowed direct interaction with the military to boost morale. They were also allowed to actively promote recruitment
As a result both the JVP and JHU retained a level of political influence within the Armed services. The JHU support was more among the officers while the JVP had tremendous clout among rank and file. The JHU hierarchy supported Rajapakse in the hustings but the JVP was fragmented.
The JVP break-away faction now known as National Freedom Front(NFF)led by Weerawansa supported the President but the mainstream JVP under Somwansa and Tilvin Silva opted for the General
A very big worry for the Govt was the JVp-Fonseka relationship. It was only after the Rajapakse-Fonseka rift came out in the open that the Govt became aware of the close links between Fonseka and the JVP.
It was alleged that Fonseka while being Army chief had fraternised regularly and clandestinely with the crimson comrades. It was also revealed that Fonseka was in direct touch with JVP secretary Tilvin Silva during the time he was in the USA last year and had been “guided” greatly by the latter in the State dept affair.
While all these developments caused concern the govt was unable to pursue these matters diligently and take effective action as the polls campaign was on. There was some information that committees were being set up in each electoral division to coordinate and implement propaganda for the Swan.
These committees comprised mainly JVP cadres and ex-military personnel. The ostensible goal was electioneering but there was suspicion about a hidden agenda.
The Defence secretary and Army commander countered this evolving problem by a series of internal transfers and postings. Suspected pro-Fonseka elements were sidelined to inconsequential positions while staunch Rajapakse loyalists and anti – Fonseka officers were placed in strategically important and influential posts.
Also Fonseka’s parent regiment “Sinha” was relieved of key duties while the parent regiments of The Defence secretary (Gajaba) and Army chief (Armoured corps)were assigned important functions.
Contributing to this climate of hate was the loose talk and braggadacio of Sarath Fonseka. Increasingly confident of victory the General began firing off like a loose cannon.
He warned that military officers supporting Rajapakse would be court-martialled. He warned govt officials that they would be sent straight to Welikade and Bogambara.
Dire consequences for the Rajapakse brothers were also threatened by the Fonseka camp. Mahinda was to be imprisoned for nepotism. Gotabhaya was to be executed at Galle face by a firing squad for abuse of power. Basil was to be hanged for corruption.
The Rajapakse’s also got reliable information from moles within the Fonseka camp about how the General had described in ” graphic detail” what he would do to the Girwapattu clan when he became President.
Other Fonseka minions spoke of punishment to be meted out to Rajapakse supporters and of lists of names being prepared. An atmosphere of fear and mistrust was setting in. As election day drew close the paranoia of both sides about mala fide motives of each other increased.
The Fonseka camp was cocksure about victory. What it feared was a rear-guard action by Rajapakse supporters to deny them their rightful victory. Ironical as it may seem the Fonseka camp feared a military coup by the Defence secretary and Service commanders to prop up the incumbent President and prevent the General from assuming Presidential office.
On the other hand the Rajapakse camp feared trouble on two counts.If Rajapakse won the defeated candidate could foment violence on a widespread scale and bring about chaos and anarchy. If Rajapakse lost the winners could unleash mayhem and vindictive violence against the President , family members, associates and supporters.
Both sides also suspected an international dimension. The Fonseka camp was suspicious about India,Pakistan and China of bolstering Rajapakse. The Rajapakse camp suspected the Western nations of conspiring to install Fonseka in a position of authority.
It was against this backdrop that the National Security council met on Friday January 22nd. Various issues were discussed chief among which was a possible coup d ‘etat by the Fonseka fraternity.
Some pre-emptive and/or counter measures were proposed and approved. These included a plan to encircle the home and office of Fonseka in the event of violence erupting. This was to both protect Fonseka as well as prevent possible violence.
As part of the scheme to ensure maintenance of security in Colombo, suburbs and key outstation areas five elite Special Force battalions were transported quietly and stationed in Colombo 7,Seeduwa,Kuruwita, Panadura and Embilipitiya. Also several Armoured Personnel carriers were brought down
Unfortunately for the Govt there was an informant present. An officer assigned to assist the service chiefs leaked the plans to Fonseka. As a result the media supportive of Fonseka came out with “scoops” about these developments.
A negative consequence was that Fonseka got extremely suspicious about a plot to kill or arrest him thereby preventing him take over as elected executive president. In fact the entire opposition supporting Fonseka got jittery about their security.
They were sure of victory and equally sure that the Rajapakses would not relinquish power easily. Hence they feared some violence and what is more came out openly about an alleged “coup” being plotted by the Govt to retain power even after electoral defeat.
The Fonseka “mole” who tipped the opposition off was later identified and removed from his position. As an added precaution a retired Major-General has also been removed from his duties. This officer working as defence adviser to a key ministry enjoyed “observer” Status on the security council and sat in on most meetings.
Misreading perhaps the defensive measures being proposed, Sarath Fonseka came up with one of his own to counter what he deemed to be a sinister design of the defence ministry. Fearing some election night violence, he booked for himself a block of rooms at both the Taj Samudra and Lakeside cinnamon hotels. Apparently the Tajs Samudra booking was a dummy move to confuse the enemy.
On election night (26th) Fonseka, family members, key opposition figures, security personnel , office aides etc moved into Cinnamon Lakeside where 70 rooms had been booked. The hotel was formerly the Trans Asia Hotel. In a previous avatar it was the Ramada Renaissance hotel.
As a precaution Fonseka’s men in association with the Hotel’s security manager (an ex-army major) de-activated the security cameras to prevent any visual record of their movement. Several computers and laptops were also moved.
The morale was high as Fonseka thought he was the winner. After moving in to the Hotel the General was so happy about the environment that he told his associates “this is going to be my headquarters”!
Events however were overtaking. The Govt always paranoid about a coup had been alerted to such a possibility by two incidents.
A batch of 25 ex-commandos (all deserters) had been arrested in Gokarella in Kurunegala district. They said they were waiting for a retired colonel to show up and issue instructions to them. They were all arrested.
In Vavuniya a large group of election workers attached to Fonseka’s campaign were stopped. They were led by a JVP Parliamentarian. In the group were 70 retired military men. After prolonged inquiry the JVP cadres were released. Later the retired military personnel were also released.
Both incidents however set off alarm bells. Adding to this was the mysterious manoeuvre of the Fonseka camp in moving en masse into Lakeside hotel.
Now it was time for counter-propaganda.
The state media began regaling the nation about a coup being plotted by Fonseka and 400 armed deserters at the Hotel. It was also alleged that an assassination plot to kill the President and his siblings was being hatched in the Hotel.
The Defence establishment’s counter-offensive was now launched.
In a pre-dawn operation a contingent of troops and commandos surrounded the Lakeside Cinnamon hotel. People were allowed to move in and out though some were checked. It was in a way a pre-emptive strike to curtail Fonseka’s movement.
There was widespread panic in the ranks of the Fonseka camp. If the idea was to shock and awe, it had succeeded. Fonseka seemed visibly shaken while his daughters sent out frantic SOS type appeals via SMS.
There was consternation but no sign of Fonseka supporters taking to the streets. The naked display of military power in the heart of Colombo cowed the opposition into silence. So much so that even when the highly disputed election results were announced there was hardly any public protest.
For some hours there was much worry in the Fonseka camp that the General would be taken into custody. Fonseka himself feared execution. But with international pressure bearing down the tense situation thawed. Besides the point had been driven home as to who was the boss.
The Military personnel who had violated discipline and tied up with Fonseka were asked to surrender. After wrangling they did so. They were made to kneel down on the road and humiliated.Other Fonseka loyalists slipped out gradually. Finally the General himself was allowed to drive out to his residence on Queens road.
But the “counter-offensive” was not over. Fonseka’s election office on Rajakeeya mawatte was raided. Six retired army officers and nine soldiers working as Fonseka’s elections staff were arrested. All the computers in the office were seized.
Now it was time for a massive operation to uncover more details about an alleged coup conspiracy.
A crackdown amounting to a witch hunt was on.Section 39 of Army Regulations act of 1992 was invoked by the Army chief to send five Majors-General, five brigadiers,One colonel, one Lt.Colonel and two captains on compulsory retirement with effect from Feb 1st.. This was the largest ever group of officers to be dealt with in this way. All of them are regarded as Fonseka loyalists.The officers are-
Major General Jammika Liyanage. He was Commandant of the Army Volunteer Force; Major General Rajitha de Silva who was attached to the Office of the Chief of Defence Staff (OCDS); Major General Jayanath Perera. He was re-called from the National Defence Academy in China where he was following a course; Major General Samantha Sooriyabandara. He was one time Defence Attache at the Sri Lanka Embassy in Washington D.C. He was last serving at the Security Force Headquarters, Jaffna; Major General Mahesh Senanayake. He was attached to Army Headquarters; Brigadier Bimal Dias. He was attached to Security Force Headquarters, Mullaitivu; Brigadier Duminda Keppetiwalana. He was Commandant of the Army Combat Training School, Ampara; Brigadier Janaka Mohotti. He was Logistics Co-ordinator of Army’s 22 Division; Brigadier Athula Hennedige. He was Commander of the 221 Brigade; Brigadier Wasantha Kumarapperuma. He was Commander, 553 Brigade; Colonel Tilak Ubeywardena. He was attached to the Military Police;Lt.Colonel L.J.M.C.P. Jayasundera of the Vijayaba Infantry Regiment (VIR), Captain R.M.R. Ranaweera of the Vijayaba Infantry Regiment (VIR), Captain B. Krishantha of the Sri Lanka National Guard (SLNG).
Brigadier Kepetiwalana was then arrested for questioning into the murder of “Sunday Leader” editor Lasantha Wickrematunge. A retired Major-General Upali Edirisinghe was also arrested for questioning about complicity in an alleged coup conspiracy. Some other retired officers including a few who had come down from abroad were also taken into custody. One retired Major – general has gone missing. Another retired colonel wanted for questioning has resorted to legal remedy.
There has also been widespread arrests of army deserters suspected of being enlisted by Fonseka in the unofficial militia. Apart from this many serving soldiers are being detained and interrogated about suspected links to the Fonseka camp.
The General at a press conference alleged that over 400 serving military personnel are being held. Those detained in this respect are housed at the Vavuniya Technical College army camp at Nelukkulam, the Anuradhapura Air Force base and the Naval bases at Trincomalee and Colombo.
A journalist regarded as a close confidante of Fonseka has also been arrested. He is suspected to be the source who informed Fonseka of the white flag surrender incident. Three other journalists have gone missing to evade arrest. They were all close to Fonseka. This is separate from the Pradeep Eknaligoda case.
The Govt suspects that a militia of about 1500 deserters and serving military men was being mobilised by Fonseka. The massive crackdown has virtually decimated the campaign staff of Fonseka.
n Monday Feb 8th, Fonseka revealed that all the former military officers associated with him were arrested except for his media secretary Senaka de Silva. That night Fonseka himself was arrested by the Military Police for further inquiry into alleged military offences including a conspiracy (coup) against the commander in chief (President) Senaka de Silva was also arrested and handed over to the Police.
The JVP seems to be the next target.The Editor of the pro-JVP paper “Lanka Irida” is already in custody. Somawansa Amerasinghe has said that six detention facilities are being prepared for incarceration of a large number of JVP members.
Bolshevik (1920), by Boris Kustodiev
His former colleague Weerawansa has gone public about the Sarath Fonseka-Tilvin Silva connection and is urging an inquiry.Cabinet minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa has referred to alleged JVP involvement in a coup by setting up “Bolshevik committees”
Though Yapa did not elaborate further it would seem that he was referring to the “military revolutionary committees” under the “Soviets” during the October revolution of Russia. The notable ones were in Moscow and Petrograd (St.Petersburg).
They came into being in the last stages of the Provisional Government. When orders were given on behalf of Kerensky that all military personnel of the garrison units should be moved to the front (world war 1) there was widespread mutiny. The bulk of soldiers from the garrison units revolted against the provisional government.
The Bolsheviks were then in the majority within the Soviet and passed a resolution drafted by Leon Trotsky that called for the establishment of a revolutionary military command or centre. Thereafter the Bolsheviks sent commissars to the revolting military garrisons and set up military revolutionary committees in each garrison unit. Thus the committees gained the loyalty of the garrisons and exerted control of the military as opposed to the “lawful” provisional government.
According to Czech historian Michael Reiman, the setting up of Military revolutionary committees could be considered the true beginning of the “October Revolution”-”Already on October 21 and 22 the Military Revolutionary Committee, in effect, took upon itself authority over the garrison. Its actions, from both a practical and a juridical standpoint, would be considered by any nation a clear case of mutiny and insurrection”
In that context Priyadarshana Yapa’s revelation that Bolshevik committees were to be set up is indeed relevant if proven true. It appears that the Government suspects Sarath Fonseka’s coup conspiracy involved the fomenting of revolt within the army and setting up Military revolutionary committees with the aid of the JVP.
However far-fetched the possibility may seem the Government is well within its rights to investigate the matter thoroughly and discover the truth.
If there has really been a conspiracy involving Sarath Fonseka, serving army officers, ex-military personnel, deserters and sections of the JVP to stage a military coup and capture state power through gun barrels then those found guilty should certainly be meted out punitive justice.
But the Government should go the extra mile in ensuring that due process is followed in probing the alleged conspiracy. Already the ways and means adopted in the investigation have caused serious doubts whether due process is being followed.
More importantly if the Govt opines that the “conspiracy theory” is valid then it must charge all those allegedly involved in a civil court under the Penal code with open access to the media and public during trial proceedings.
Otherwise it would smack of a vendetta trial by a Kangaroo court.
The Govt must firmly adhere to the principles of natural justice. It must also remember that Justice should not only be done but also should appear to have been done.
DBS Jeyaraj can be reached at email@example.com