Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has said that security will be beefed up in the Eastern Province to stem separatist terrorism and Islamic extremism.
Tamils and Muslims together outnumber the Sinhalese in the Eastern Province.
The province had been the base of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and also Jehadists who staged the April 21, 2019 suicide bombings in Colombo and other places.
Speaking at the 14 th. “Discussion with the Village” program in Galagoda East in Galle District on March 13, the President said: “ There were about 50 camps in the Eastern Province. They had been removed and only a handful of camps remain. I have advised that these camps be opened again, because separatist terrorism or Islamic extremism will not be allowed under our government.”
As per the full text issued by the President’s Media Division, the President said: “I’m well versed in national security and gravely concerned about it too. Under President Mahinda Rajapaksa I was entrusted with this responsibility as the Secretary of Defense. We worked as a team to end the 30-year war. I know how hard and how dedicated they were in executing it. So I will never allow this victory to be spoiled.”
He went on to say: “Those who neglected national security as a government are now trying to pin the Sunday Easter attacks on the former President alone. The Report of the Commission has clearly shown that the previous government did not give due importance to national security. All those who were part of the former government are responsible for this heinous attack.”
“His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith has made a statement claiming that some politicians are involved in the attack and they were not mentioned in the report. We will investigate them as well. Those politicians are not with us. They did not help bring me or the government into power. They are with the opposition. We don’t want to protect anyone. We are not up for negotiation. We have 2/3rd majority (in parliament).”
“We came to power without any help from them. So we don’t need to protect them. If they have done anything wrong, they will be exposed.”
“After we came to power, in addition to those who were arrested by the CID, the police, the Terrorism Investigation Division, we have arrested others that had ties with foreign countries and several others who were engaged in them were also apprehended. Investigations are being carried out and they will continue until all the culprits are caught by the law.”
The President pointed out that the report of the Presidential Commission on Easter Sunday attack repeatedly stated that the previous government did not pay any attention to national security and it was the reason for this attack.
“True, we told the same thing back then. Not only did we win the war but we also placed required security measures to prevent a war from happening again, especially in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. However, during the previous government everything was neglected. Intelligence officers were imprisoned, and complaints were leveled against them. The security arrangements in those areas were completely dismantled. Even if a simple poster had been pasted, we would catch them. If you can remember, anyone who were even involved in minor incidents were apprehended. That is how we ensured national security. However, the Report clearly concludes that the previous government did not pay any attention to it and national security was ignored.”
On the steps his government has taken to ensure security, the President said: “ We have re-activated the program we carried out by deploying competent personnel to ensure national security. But when something like this collapses, it is difficult to rebuild. It will take some time. The existing intelligence services need to be re-launched. Officers need to be reinstated in those areas. The Special Forces, especially the police.”