By Shamindra Ferdinando
Former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa says that some countries had the wherewithal to overthrow democratically elected governments, though Sri Lanka lacked such capacity.
War veteran Rajapaksa points out that there had been many such interventions over the years in various parts of the world. Sri Lanka was a case in point, Rajapaksa said.
The ex- Defence Secretary was responding to a query whether he endorsed his brother and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa accusation that the US, British and Indian intelligence services had got him ousted. Alleging that he had been a victim of a conspiracy involving intelligence services in an interview with The Hindu, the former President said that India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) was operating without the sanction of the government.
The comment was made ahead of former Sri Lankan leader’s one-on-one meeting with Indian PM Narendra Modi.
Northern Provincial Councillor Dharmalingham Siddarthan is on record as having said that at the behest of the RAW; Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization (TELO) assassinated two Jaffna district members of parliament, including his father Visvanather Dharmalingham (MP for Manipay) and K. Alalasundaram (MP for Kopay) in early September 1985.
Responding to another query, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said that external intelligence services had subverted the former administration taking advantage of what he called privileged status enjoyed by them. Major countries maintained specialized units meant for clandestine operations outside their borders, therefore the former President’s accusation could be realistic, the one-time Commanding Officer of the celebrated first battalion of the Gajaba Regiment said.
Asked whether he felt the intelligence services under him had failed his brother by not identifying the then SLFP General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena’s move, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said that secret services countered threats to national security. Rajapaksa insisted that intelligence services hadn’t been used in political projects under any circumstances.
Well informed sources told The Island that Maithripala Sirisena’s move, though being brought to the notice of the then SLFP leadership several weeks before the actual switching of allegiance by the top minister was ignored. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said that Sri Lanka never acquired a capability to tap hand phones though it could have helped anti-terrorist operations. Although, land lines could have been monitored, no one of importance used them any longer to enable us to benefit, he said.
Gotabhaya Rajapaksa paid a glowing tribute to intelligence services while recollecting the circumstances under which they managed to apprehend Kumaran Pathmathan in August 2009 and kill Gopi over one-year ago. Even Welle Suda had been apprehended by Pakistan during the previous administration, though he was brought to Colombo only after the change of the government in early January, the former Defence Secretary said.
Commenting on the assassination of the then Sunday Leader editor Lasantha Wickremetunga in early 2009, Rajapaksa said that the new government should investigate further and tangible measures to bring those who had been responsible before a court of law.
Dismissing long persisting accusations that he in his capacity as Secretary to the Ministry of Defence ran death squads, Rajapaksa said that similar allegations were directed at previous governments. The outspoken former Defence Secretary said that those who had served him as soldier bodyguards were professionals and weren’t involved in any clandestine project beyond their legitimate tasks. The former Defence Secretary emphasized that he could vouch for the conduct of those who had served him loyally.