(Former Health minister Maithripala Sirisena is the man of the moment having quit the UPFA Govt and coming forward as the common opposition candidate challenging incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa for the Presidency with the slogan “Supirisidu Nayakathwayak, Maithree Palanayak”.This article was written by me at a time when Maithripala Sirisena was riding high as a powerful govt minister. This particular piece is about how Maithripala Sirisena’s son daham Sirisena and his drunken friends assaulted Asela Waidyalankara in front of his wife at a beach resort in Paasikudah in Batticaloa district.Asela the son of Senior DIG Police Ravi Waidyalankara was hospitalised as a result of the assault.In what was a blatant abuse of his ministerial powers, Daham’s father Maithripala allegedly used his political clout to obstruct justice in a bid to save his son from being penalised for the assault. I wrote this article in detail then as none of the mainstream media publicised what had happened in full then. This article which was first posted on March 1st 2013 is being re-posted here without any changes due to numerous requests from readers………..DBSJ)
Sri Lanka today is a land of perplexing paradoxes and ironic contradictions. A former Army commander is forcibly dragged to captivity and court-martialled on flimsy charges by military personnel and officers who served under him.
The De jure Chief Justice of the country is “removed” from office on the basis of an adverse report presented by partisan Govt MP’s after Parliamentary Select Committee proceedings amounting to a Kafkauesque trial.
~ Asela Waidyalankara in Hospital ~ pic via: twitter/MangalaS ~ Mangala Samaraweera
The latest episode in this serial is the incident in the East where the only son of the serving Deputy Inspector General of Police is ruthlessly assaulted in an area within his father’s official jurisdiction. While the victim of the assault lies in a Colombo hospital, the father of the chief assailant a powerful cabinet minister is engaged in brazen efforts to thwart the course of justice to safeguard his son.
The incident in question happened on Sunday February 24th 2013.Twenty seven year old Asela Waidyalankara,his wife and another couple were enjoying a short holiday at the “Malu Malu”beach resort in Paasikudah in the Batticaloa district. Paasikudah meaning “Green Algae Bay”in Tamil is about 35 km from Batticaloa town.It is renowned for its pristine beaches and shallow sparkling waters. Paasikudah is fast turning into a beach resort attracting domestic and foreign tourists.
Asela Waidyalankara is the only child of AR Waidyalankara generally known as Ravi Waidyalankara who is a Deputy Inspector General of Police and also a lawyer.Asela himself studied law even topping his batch as an LLB student.He had however discontinued his studies during his final year temporarily with the intention of resuming later after getting married in 2010. He is currently an executive at Dialog Axiata LNL.
Asela and wife along with a friend of his wife and her husband were staying at Paasikudah’s “Malu Malu” resort which boasts of 40 chalets.Ravi Waidyalankara is the DIG of Batticaloa range.Paasikudah is under his Police jurisdiction.
Ravi Waidyalankara had been one of fifteen DIG’s transferred on February 17th. He had been assigned fresh duties as DIG of Police Headquarters Central division in Colombo.However V.Indran the DIG of Investigation and Revision division who had been transferred as Batticaloa DIG is currently on leave.Hence Waidyalankara is continuing as Batticaloa DIG in an acting capacity.
Although Asela was the Batticaloa DIG’s son that fact was not known to many at Paasikudah.According to schoolmates from Nalanda College, Asela was an unassuming modest guy who never threw his weight around citing his senior police official father.
On Sunday 24th afternoon Asela,wife and friends went out on a boating trip on the Paasikudah bay and returned to the shore around 3.30 pm.Asela went to the chalet they were staying in to keep a few things while the others lingered on the beach. While returning Asela noticed a group of persons who seemed inebriated and in high spirits.This is not an unusual sight on an afternoon at a beach.
One person in the group was with a camera. The group numbering more than a dozen seemed to be young men in their twenties or late teens. It is said that nine of them were students pursuing higher studies.
One person however seemed relatively older in the 35 -40 age group.This Man was “posing”for the camera amidst much laughter and glee. Actually he had removed his swimming trunks and was exposing his genitals. Asela an amateur photographer himself noticed that the focus on the exhibitionist encompassed his wife too. The camera angle was such that the young,pretty lady was also being in the frame along with the male exhibitionist who was positioned behind her. She was unaware of the pervert behind her posing nude for the camera.
Seeing this Asela was naturally annoyed. He was worried that those pix may be later displayed on the internet.But since the group was large and drunk , Asela was prudent and diplomatic. He went up to the photographer and using the friendly term “Machang” stated that the lady being photographed was his wife .He then asked him to show the pictures taken and kindly delete the ones where his wife was featured.
The photographer however laughed loud and denied that the lady was being photographed. Asela however persisted politely that he be shown the pictures. “I am here to have a good time.You are here to have a good time.Let’s not spoil it”he reportedly said.
Even as this was happening several members of the group began surrounding him menacingly.They began querying”moko ,moko” (What,what)in Sinhala. Asela then said that he did not want any trouble and only wanted the pictures deleted.Now Asela found himself being abused in filth by some in the group encircling him.They started shoving him around.
Asela tried to extricate himself but suddenly one of the young men placed his hand on Asela’s chest.When he tried to push it away the youth started hitting him.This was like a signal. The rest of the pack then set upon him.They began beating him.
Asela tried to ward off the blows but he was clearly outnumbered. Besides he was already suffering from a dislocated left shoulder. Since he was a left hander his dexterity was curtailed as a result of this.The injuries to his shoulder were further aggravated by the assault.At one point Asela was hit from behind and fell down on the ground . He was then kicked mercilessly.
Seeing her husband being assaulted the wife ran up and tried to protect him. She too suffered bruises. At one point the distraught spouse clasped her hands together and begged the gang to stop beating her husband. But the drunken bullies would not budge.The helpless friends too could do nothing and were threatened to keep off.
Asela then saw two uniformed Policemen at a distance. He stood up despite the kicks and blows and managed to run up to the cops with the assailants giving chase. He was compelled to introduce himself as the son of the Batticaloa DIG and asked for help. The Policemen PC (sgt) 64435 Kulasekaran and PC 70061 Wickramarachchi then tried to stop the assailants.
The drunk mob was in a pugnacious mood.The vicious attack on Asela continued. When the Policemen tried to shield Asela from the blows they too were manhandled.The young man who had begun the attack on Asela by hitting him first then turned on the cops. He warned the Policemen in Sinhala not to mess with them or face consequences.
Then came the great revelation. The young man announced that his father was Cabinet minister Maithripala Sirisena. The ministerial brat was none other than Pallewatte Gamaralage Daham Sirisena the 20 year old son of Cabinet Minister of Health and Polonnaruwa district MP Maithripala Sirisena.
The attack on Asela continued.The Policemen also got hit trying to protect him. At one stage Asela was hit heavily on the head from behind. Already bleeding ,the dazed victim blacked out for a few minutes.
When he regained consciousness Asela found a small crowd including resort employees had gathered around.The minister’s son and his cohorts were told that the victim was in a bad condition and had to be taken to the hospital.The attack ceased. The injured Asela was taken to the Batticaloa General hospital by the Kalkudah Police.
Asela’s father DIG Ravi Waidyalankara was informed of the incident. His reaction was that of a father rather than a Police officer. Ravi rushed to Paasikudah from Batticaloa to see the son even as Asela was being taken to Batticaloa.Both vehicles crossed each other on the road and stopped.
DIG Waidyalankara then transferred his son to the vehicle in which he was travelling in and turned back towards Batticaloa town. He admitted his son to the Intensive care unit in B’caloa hospital. Thereafter he made arrangements to transport the son from Batticaloa to Colombo. Asela is now warded at the Central hospital.
The Batticaloa DIG did not directly involve himself in any way with action against the assailants.Ravi Waidyalankara was only concerned about the health of his only son.He let the Police handle the matter in the way they normally handle such incidents.Unfortunately later developments demonstrated that the Police would not be allowed to deal with the incident fairly and freely.
Meanwhile additional Policemen from Kalkudah Police arrived at Paasikudah. When the Police tried to arrest the intoxicated thugs who assaulted Asela they encountered resistance spearheaded by Daham Sirisena. The minister’s son threatened the Khaki clad guardians of law and order with dire consequences.”My father can give you the works with one phone call” he said threateningly.
The Kalkudah cops hesitated to act intimidated by menacing ministerial influence.There was a stand-off of sorts with the Kalkudah Police being unable to do their duty.
62 year old Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena the father of Daham was also alerted at about 5 pm. Sirisena who is also the Secretary of the Sri Lanka freedom party (SLFP) and a Prime ministerial aspirant was on a tour of Polonnaruwa meeting members of the public on Sunday.
Sirisena telephoned his only son and found out what had happened.Sirisena then telephoned an Assistant Superintendent of Police in the district and told him of the problem.Another Police party accompanied by this ASP went to Paasikudah. The ASP managed to plead with Daham Sirisena and persuaded him and his pals to accompany the Police to Kalkudah Police station. Maithripala Sirisena also advised his son to go to the Police station with the ASP and said he too would come there shortly.
Maithripala Sirisena then rushed to Batticaloa district.While travelling he telephoned DIG Waidyalankara and apologized for his son’s behaviour.Upon being told that Asela was admitted to the ICU Maithripala Sirisena went to Batticaloa hospital to inquire into the victim’s condition. He expressed his regrets for what had happened and asked Asela for pardon on behalf of his son. The bed ridden Asela thanked the minister for his concern and told him not to worry.
Minister Sirisena also greeted Ravi Waidyalankara within earshot of many at the hospital and said how sorry he was about the incident. Maithripala then said loudly in Sinhala “I am not like other ministers. The Police can take whatever action necessary against my son and his friends”. All those who heard the minister were impressed by the words.
Sirisena who is also the Health minister in charge of Govt hositals told DIG Waidyalankara that he would ensuure that Asela get the best possible treatment in the B’caloa hospital coming unde5r his ministerial purview.The DIG then said that he was planning to take Asela to Colombo. The minister then said that he would send him by Ambulance to the Colombo national Hospital.Ravi Waidyalankara thanked the minister but declined the offer. The DIG then took his son personally by car to Colombo and admitted him to a Private hospital instead of a Govt hospital.
Despite the praiseworthy sentiments expressed by Maithripala Sirisena that the Police could take action against his son the subsequent actions of the minister did not match his words.
Sirisena went to Kalkudah Police station where Daham Sirisena and his twelve friends were being held. Despite the offences of assaulting Asela and the Policemen and resisting arrest Daham and the dirty dozen were not formally arrested or put in a cell. They were given seating accommodation on Police station benches.
Maithripala Sirisena now began making a series of telephone calls. Among those whom he called were Defence and Urban Development Ministry secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaka. He also called Senior Colombo district DIG Anura Senanayake who in turn telephoned the Kalkudah Police. Anura Senanayake also telephoned a senior Supdt of Police in the East who began contacting the local Police.Sirisena spent several hours at the Police station pulling strings through the telephone
As a result of Sirisena’s efforts the 13 persons involved in the assault including Daham Sirisena were not officially taken into custody or produced before a magistrate. After Police recorded statements they were all released on Police bail in the early hours of Monday February 25th.Daham and the dirty dozen set free are now required to present themselves at the Vaalaichenai courts on Monday March 4th.
Under provisions of the Penal and Criminal procedure code the offences allegedly committed by Daham and his pals were not ones where the arrested persons could be set free on Police bail instead of being produced in courts.Besides it was only recently that the Rajapaksa Govt passed fresh laws enabling the Police to hold a suspect in custody for 48 hours instead of the earlier 24 hours. But the minister’s son and friends were apparently children of a greater God.
In the meantime Maithripala Sirisena took his son and his friends to Vaalaichenai hospital where “medical treatment for injuries sustained” were obtained. Steps were also taken to procure certificates from the Judicial medical officer(JMO) testifying that Daham Sirisena and his friends were not in a state of intoxication.Apparently the powerful minister has embarked on a course of preemptive action to obstruct justice and safeguard his son and cohorts.
It may also be recalled that the Health minister has got certain cough medicines banned because they possessed intoxicating content.Against that backdrop it may have perhaps been bitter medicine for Sirisena to accept the fact that his son too had imbibed intoxicants.
Maithripala Sirisena’s game plan seemed clear from the essence of the statements given to the Police by his son and his friends. The drunken gang of thirteen who had mercilessly assaulted a single youth in the presence of many including Policemen was now twisting the truth and relating a different tale.
This was patently visible from the statement given by Maithripala Sirisena to “The Island”newspaper. This is what the newspaper said –
“Minister Sirisena claimed that the DIG’s son had grabbed his son provoking his friends. According to the minister, the DIG’s son had been aggressive in spite of the boys assuring him that there was no attempt to photograph his wife. The minister alleged that the DIG’s son had got himself admitted to the Intensive Care Unit of the Batticaloa hospital in a bid to bring charges against his son and his friends.The minister alleged that the police had been unfair and ignored the fact that the DIG’s son had provoked the incident”.
If the newspaper report is accurate then one can easily discern what the “defence” is going to be. The country is about to witness another classic attempt of “Blaming the victim”.As in the case of Mervyn Silva who claimed that the Samurdhi officer tied himself to a tree,Maithripala Sirisena is now stating that Asela Waidyalankara committed virtual “hara kiri” by taking on a gang of thirteen all alone despite having a dislocated shoulder. Daham and his goons were acting in self-defence according to the “pater familias”of the house of Gamaralage.
Furthermore Sirisena also accuses Asela of admitting himself to hospital claiming injuries to implicate his son and his friends.This is the man who personally apologized to the victim and declared in public that he would not object to action being taken against the culprits including his son.He also faults the Police as being unfair for ignoring the fact that the DIG’s son had allegedly provoked the incident.
It was only last week that Parliamentary affairs minister Sumedha Jayasena found fault with the Police for taking action against her illegal sandminer henchmen who were only “ignorant”of the law.Now we have Sirisena. With ministers such as these in Mahinda Rajapaksa’s cabinet Sri Lanka is already the “miracle of Asia”.
So D-day for Daham and the “Dirty dozen”is March 4th when they present themselves at Vaalaichenai courts. With Maithripala Sirisena doing the utmost to “shape things up” in the finest tradition of the Rajapaksa regime it does not require any analytical ability to predict what the ultimate outcome of this affair would be.After all Justice would surely be done and appear to be done in a land where there is a De jure chief Justice as well as a De Facto Chief Justice!
Maithripala Sirisena with the backing of powerful people in the defence establishment has commenced a campaign to malign the victim Asela and discredit the affected father Ravi Waidyalankara.Misinformation and disinformation is being dished out to the media.It is being propagated that Daham and his friends were neither drunk nor disorderly and that a minor incident has been blown up disproportionately. In what amounts to an insult to the collective intelligence of Sri Lankan people it is also being insinuated that Asela had single-handedly launched an attacked against 13 young persons.
Given the power that a cabinet minister has under the Rajapaksa regime and the fact that powerful forces are backing him it is very doubtful that truth would prevail and justice be done.The announcement that special Police teams would record statements and conduct investigations suggests that the powers that be are likely to adopt familiar ruses and either bury the matter or come out with controversial findings.Under the topsy turvy Rajapaksa regime there is every chance that the guilty would go scot free and the victim censured and possibly penalised.
Realistically all one can hope for is that Asela Waidyalankara recovers from his injuries soon and gets on with his life without further mishap and that his father DIG Ravi Waidyalankara is not victimised because his son was the victim of the son of a powerful cabinet minister.
My heart goes out to Asela Waidyalankara who was assaulted on February 24th in front of his wife by goons and critically injured. Twenty years ago on February 14th 1993 I was assaulted by LTTE goons in front of my wife in Toronto.My leg was broken and head stitched.We had been married only in November 1992 and were returning from a Movie on Valentines Day. I can understand and feel the grief and pain of Asela and his wife.
DBS Jeyaraj can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org