Easter Sunday Attack: Horrors remain unsolved

Easter Sunday Attack: Horrors remain unsolved

22 January 2020 12:14 am

One of the key elements catalyzed victory of the present Government in November 16 turning the 4-year running Good Governance down was the Easter Sunday attack occurred in April 21, 2019 targeting famous Catholic churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka. 

There were enough evidence to showcase the long existed Islam extremism in Sri Lanka and how Zahran Hashim, matermind behind the attacks, harboured it.  

The tragedy nevertheless was ultimately irreversible, as it took more than 250 innocent lives, local and foreign alike, losing loved ones for a lifetime, while others were left permanently disabled. People of Sri Lanka suffered enough horrors of a three-decade war, and the persecutions of 71/88-89, only to find out being burdened by another state of panic - the Easter Attacks. 

The incident on last year's Easter Sunday unraveled how the national security, the heart of Sri Lanka, was weakened and how the political opportunism took over.

Then President Commander in Chief Maithripala Sirisena appointed a three-member committee and a special parliament select committee (PSC) to probe the Easter bombings. The PSC was opened to media in accordance with the Right-to-Information Act and by doing so, many information by which the country's national security was taken for mere political amusement were revealed. The PSC final report proves it well.  

Meanwhile, a special presidential commission of inquiry to probe the Easter Bombings was formed by the former president himself. The probe is still on-going. But by far, the society is aware of many facts, and although there is no structured court case to the incident, it is no secret that who are the respondents to this unsolved case. 

The former president's response over the incident is utter shameful. His attempt to impose blame on officials attached to the defence ministry by clearing himself up was proven unsuccessful as the PSC report was outed. Up to the point, the former president made efforts to mask himself out of the burden. But it is well known that he as the then commander in chief and the keeper of the defence ministry was the responsible person to the people. 

Former President Sirisena was aware of the threat of the Easter bombing, the PSC report revealed, but behaved in a manner that he was not and the officials appointed for security did not inform him. But the testimonies unraveled by the director of the State Intelligence Service (SIS) before the PSC proved otherwise.     

The former president was warned of the danger of a potential attack on April 11, according to the testimony by the director of the SIS. The former president testified before the PSC that the notification was received between 07.30 and 08.30 am local time on the date of the attack. The president of Sri Lanka was in Singapore at the time of the incident, and was informed of it between 10am and 11pm on Singapore time, according to his testimony.

Accordingly, Sirisena as the first citizen of the country either willingly or unwillingly had allowed a tragedy to be fallen upon his nation. But the question remains as he to this day roam free without being a respondent to the incident. 

President Sirisena cracked down the Army first!

The higher burden of national security is on the Army, and the Army has the largest intelligence force. Its excellence was well evident in the victory of the thirty-year old war. But... what happened to its excellence during the tenure of Maithripala Sirisena as president? What happened to the army intelligence that was able to overthrow a gruesome thirty year-old terrorism?

The testimony delivered by former army commander Mahesh Senanayake summed up the answer to this question!

Until the point of the attack, the army commander of Sri Lanka did not know anything about Zahran Hashim, or his group of terrorists harbouring Islam extremism in the country. There were no intelligence reports on his possession whatsoever. Maybe he was busy toasting for the post war joy too long. 

Why were the masterminds behind the Easter Attack not tracked by the Sri Lankan Army, which had an uncanny intelligence unit that dropped bombs on the heads of the LTTE, reached their feet and recorded their decimation?

What did former army commander Mahesh Senanayake use the intelligence forces for? Did he play dumb, or had not he the brains to understand the severity of Islam extremism, a malign threat throughout the globe, when it was on many occasions tabled before the Security Council? 

It was rather unfortunate that Senanayake as the army commander did not take seriously the stand director of Terrorism Investigation Division Varuna Jayasundara had as a special task force officer on Zahran Hashim.

In the aftermath of the Easter bombings several facts about former army commander Mahesh Senanayake gradually began to surface, questioning whether he was truly a suitable person for such responsible post. 
Senanayake had violated almost every criterion for his appointment as army commander by the time he was appointed. Former head of state Sirisena appointed him as the commander of army superseding six-to-seven senior members before him.  

The national security degree is a must for any military commander in the world, evident of all the tri-forces. However, Senanayake did not fill up to this most compulsory qualification in the military. Needless to say, his appointment by Sirisena did not appeal to it either. 

Meanwhile, Senanayake was accused by the military itself of not having any live experience in the battlefield, speaking of which, it had once been confirmed by Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, who divulged that Senanayake during the season of war was seen as a person submerged to mere paperwork. He had also been recognized as a person who never set foot in the National Defence School. 

Mahesh Senanayake during the time he was sacked out of the Army for committing anti-disciplinary actions engaged in foreign employment in Dubai, but was appointed as the army commander superseding many seniors before him in a flash after five years - on the blessings of former president Sirisena! 

A person who is not familiar of the national security has no ability to analyse and solve matters pertaining to the subject, however, Senanayake was entrusted with such responsibility. Projecting his unworthiness, the Easter bombing took hundreds of innocent lives even at the presence of a large intelligence force. 

Meanwhile, an army official cannot take part in any political activity for at least six months after his retirement. The condition blatantly being violated, he still managed to enter the presidential election as a contestant. 

Senanayake is missing in action now. He left the country. The former president being a puppet of state governance played with the whole country, while the former army commander played with the country's national security.  

So, should not Sirisena finally accept responsibility for the Easter Sunday genocide, for having a disqualified person as the army commander and weakening the army intelligence service? 

This has been well demonstrated by Dr. Maj. Gen. Boniface Perera. 

We should be surprised if the Easter bombs did not explode when senior officials who were responsible for national security of this country were deprived of their rightful place.

We as a country are still delaying ourselves on raising such officers up. 

Easter bombs set by Hemasiri and Pujith?

The Easter bombs were set in the Catholic churches and the luxury hotels by former defence secretary Hemasiri Fernando and IGP Pujith Jayasundara who are currently in remand prison, according to the juvenile interpretation of the former president. Former president Sirisena from the beginning had attempted to put the blame on the two long before they were remanded. 

But his role as the commander in chief in managing them was well evident by how he operated the Security Council. He acted on ousting the prime minister, the IGP and the state minister of defence from the Security Council politicizing it. Further unraveling the notorious chores of the former president, Fernando appearing before the PSC had grieved that he was very vulnerable as a defence secretary at the time. 

Meanwhile, the former president had pressured the IGP to hold accountable for the Easter bombings, Pujith Jayasundara had revealed in his testimony before the Committee, adding that Sirisena in return as a token of gratitude had promised an ambassador post.

The notoriety of the former president was unraveled as the two officials testified before the PSC.   

Fernando and Jayasundara were subjected as targets by the former president thereafter, just to clean up the mess he committed. 

The two have been remanded since November 09, 2019, while the former president commander in chief defence minister Maithripala Sirisena roams free enjoying the light of day. 

In the backdrop of a threat to national security, everyone who is in charge of security should be adhered to the collective responsibility, for which the former president did not have the backbone.

As people, we are crazed if we expect more accountability from a politician who attempted to avoid the accusations leveled against him. 

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