He is in charge of protecting the city of Colombo. Appointed in 2008, as the Director of the Colombo Crimes Division, Senior Superintendent of Police Anura Senanayake is on a mission to control crimes and terrorism in the city. He has successfully investigated numerous suicide bomb explosions which have resulted in the destruction of LTTE networks in Colombo. The CCD team works tireless to ensure that we sleep in safety at night. This is the story of how the CCD has prevented Colombo from burning.
SSP Anura Senanayake, can you tell us what role the Colombo Crimes Division plays in countering terrorism in Colombo?
The Colombo Crimes Division (CCD) is the main investigative unit in countering crimes in the Colombo city and handling incidents such as bomb explosions and other activities conducted by the LTTE. On top of this, we also handle other crimes including extortion and ransom cases. However the CCD is the first unit to investigate bomb incidents in Colombo such as the bomb explosion down Lotus Road, Dehiwela, Padukka, Piliyandala and Boralesgamuwa etc. We have been able to successfully conclude all investigations of the various bomb explosions that occured in Colombo during the year 2008.Actually our responsibility is only for the Colombo range, which includes Colombo South, Central and North. However in many instances the Secretary of Defence as well as the Inspector General of Police requires us to investigate crimes relating to terrorism in other areas because of the trust in the capabilities of the CCD is very high. People have 100% faith in us that if we take a case that something will be done. We are adamant to do our job well. Conducting an investigation doesn’t mean going there and looking at the place and coming back. We have to persevere and follow every step. We have dedicated officers in this division.
The main thing now is that within a short period of time we aim to indict the suspect through a comprehensive investigation. If we don’t take quick action, if we wait for 2-3 years then even the officers feel demoralised to collect evidence. The Attorney General has to give clear instructions and through that, the suspect needs to be indicted immediately. Such processes are better for the witness as well. I don’t think anyone would want to receive a summons after 2-3 years after the incident. In such cases the witness doesn’t appear. However if the witness receives the summons within a short period, then he will definitely go to courts to give evidence. We have been able to arrest and indict the culprits in most of the cases that were assigned to us relating to bomb explosions and assassinations that occurred in the year 2008. Through this we have been able to dismantle the crux of the LTTE in Colombo. We have accomplished a very big task. If the investigations were dragged on for a long time then there is no use. Today in the courts you get so many small cases that are dragged on and people give up. Then the accused is set free. At the CCD, we are not like that; within a short period of each incident we were able to file the case in the courts.
A key factor that has resulted in our success is intelligence. In Colombo we have developed very good intelligence. I am not only talking about the CCD but also about the CID, State Intelligence Services, Military Intelligence and Western Province Intelligence Unit, which have been the core of our investigations. Due to good intelligence, we were able to apprehend all suspects. This would have been impossible without good intelligence. We have arrested more than 75 LTTE cadres in Colombo itself for the last one year. As I said before, all the incidents that we solved happened in 2008. We have been able to ensure the security of Colombo at this current level through support of the other intelligence agencies. This is how we have ensured the security of Colombo.
We Have Arrested And Indicted Many Of The Culprits Responsible For Bomb Explosions And Assasinations That Occured In The Year 2008. Through This We Have Been Able To Dismantle The Crux Of The LTTE In Colombo.
In the recent past, the CCD has been successful in preventing many attacks in Colombo, can you tell us about the LTTE cells in Colombo?
The main incident was the bomb explosion down Lotus Road, Colombo 1. This is the first time in Sri Lanka where the main suicide bomber of a bomb explosion was identified. Usually when a suicide bomber blasts himself, we are unable to identify who it is. However through our investigation we were able to identify the suicide bomber, and through subsequent inquiries we were able to dismantle a number of LTTE cells. The Lotus Road investigation was a very big breakthrough for us becasue the Scene of Crime Officers (SOCO) were able to recover the SIM used by the bomber and through that we discovered crucial information. The unravelling of one investigation led to a series successful discoveries that led to the weakening of the LTTE in Colombo.
The first cell that we dismantled was the one in Wellawatta. We were able to apprehend all three members of this cell. One of them was in Singapore but through cooperation with the authorities there, we were able to bring him back to Sri Lanka. The next cell was in Dehiwela under a female LTTE cadre. We were able to dismantle this cell as well. The LTTE was using these cells to conduct their operations in Colombo. The investigation to take the Dehiwela cell was executed beautifully. However we were unable to arrest the main man as he passed away in India. If we had caught him we could have gone to another level in the investigations.
Thirdly, we were able to counter the cell in Wattala. Actually there is no use in arresting a man if we are unable to break the cell. We have to break the cell. In one cell there is only about 2 or 3 individuals, not a very large number. Once you break the three of them the cell is gone. Arresting one person is enough to weaken the cell. The CCD has successfully dismantled all the cells in Wellawatte, Dehiwela, Grandpass and Wattala.
How are these cells related to the various terrorist incidents in Colombo?
The dismantling of these cells was very important. Soon after the assassination of Minister of Parliament T Maheswaran, we were able to identify the handler of the assassin through telephone analysis. The handler was in Wattala. The associate was a female in her mid thirties. She was the person in charge of the shooter. On January 1, 2008 morning the MP T Maheswaran was shot, soon after the incident the associate left to the Wanni and we were unable to apprehend her. Then on February 3, 2008, there was an explosion in the Fort Railway Station; the CID handled the investigation. In this instance the suicide bomber’s photograph was published in the newspapers. Through this we were able to identify that the suicide bomber was the same handler from Wattala. Since the assassin of the MP was in our custody we were able to confirm that she was his handler. Through this investigation we can clearly see how the LTTE operates, this female cadre was first sent as a handler then in a month she was sent again with a different identity as a suicide bomber. Each cadre has multiple functions.
The person who placed the Padukka bomb arrived in Colombo in a vehicle and his initial target was actually a VIP. Since the LTTE did not have anyone else they used this person to place the bomb in Padukka. Therefore due to their vulnerable situation, the LTTE will use their cadres to suit the mission. In the sense that, if one cadre can be used for more than one function he will be used so. However he would have to still take the main target.
As I said before, through the Lotus Road investigation we were able to unearth the LTTE cells in Colombo. The key person who handled the main suicide bomber swallowed cyanide on capture but we were able to save his life. This suspect is the main LTTE organiser in Colombo. If he were still free, he would have burnt the entire Colombo city. We prevented that.
Looking at the attempted assassination of Minister Douglas Devananda, the female suicide bomber was brought to Colombo by the same culprit as the Lotus Road incident. The culprit’s wife is in our custody and she has told us everything. According to their statement we have been able to apprehend everyone. He is also the person who organised the assassination of D M Dassanayaka.
The female LTTE cadre, we arrested who was the leader of the Dehiwela cell had brought the motor bicycle that was to be used by the Lotus Road culprit. They set the bomb in the bike. Their aim was to target the Air Force Commander. We managed to capture the LTTE cadre as well as all the explosives. You would be surprised to hear where the LTTE was aiming to target the Air Force Commander. It was near a public shopping centre in Colombo. He would come in the morning and go in the evening. However the Air Force Commander did not use that particular route. Since their initial target was unsuccessful, he (the Lotus Road culprit) was given the order to target any VIP in Colombo. He received his order in the morning, but by mid afternoon we arrested him in Wellawatte where he tried to commit suicide by swallowing cyanide. If we hadn’t arrested him, he would have attacked any VIP. The LTTE did not care who the VIP target was.
Another incident that we were able to prevent through the arrest of the Lotus Road culprit is a bomb explosion in W A Silva Mawatha in Wellawatte. Another LTTE member by the name of, let us say P kept his bike near a private hospital and the Lotus Road culprit kept watch near a another shopping mall in Colombo. From this point, he was giving information to P about all the VIPs travelling on that route. The plan was to explode the bomb when a VIP reached the colour lights near W A Silva Mawatha. We were able to prevent a major incident in Wellawatte through our timely arrest of the Lotus Road man. It was a very good investigation.
Subsequently, through this investigation we were able to uncover that the same people were linked with the assassination of Minister D M Dassanayake. Through the confessions of the Lotus Road culprit, we were able to arrest all the Sinhala people linked to these incidents. The involvement of the Sinhala people was that, during the ceasefire they were transporting things to the LTTE after signing agreements because they own vehicles. They were helping the LTTE for money. I have to stress that people like them are very dangerous characters. Initially we did not believe that a Sinhala person was involved.
The person who was involved in the Lotus Road bomb blast had also been working with this Sinhala person (SP) who was the main man behind the assassination of Minister D M Dassanayake. It was he who set the bomb that killed the minister. The assassination took place on January 8, 2008 but SP had set the bomb on December 21, 2007. Imagine how many days it was there from December 21 to January 7. He changed the batteries four times. The bomb was there for more than ten days. Thinking that it was Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle they detonated the bomb. Their mission was to kill Jeyaraj Fernandopulle but the bomb killed Minister Dassanayke instead. This is what happened and they admit this too.
Then we were able to crack another case from the information we gathered through the Lotus Road investigation. We were able to detect a link in Puttalam, which was a major point in transporting explosives to Colombo. For years we were not able to catch this person, through this case when we kept on following each and every lead we were able to catch this LTTE cadre in Puttalam. Through this we were able break the link of the LTTE between Puttalam and Colombo. Puttalam is still a hub of LTTE activities. We do not know what sort of percentage this capture was of the whole LTTE network. But it has definitely controlled their activities of transporting explosives to Colombo. We captured all the explosives that were sent through him in Colombo.
Therefore, as you can see the Lotus Road investigation was extremely successful because it resulted in uncovering and dismantling the crux of the LTTE operations in Colombo. Through this case we were able to break many of the LTTE safe houses. We were able to unravel all of this within 2-3 months of the explosion.
The Colombo Crimes Division Has Successfully Dismantled All The LTTE Cells In Wellawatte, Dehiwela, Grandpass And Wattala.
Can you tell us about the case involving the pastor?
We arrested the pastor in Mabola, Wattala. The story that we are being told is that his sister who lives in Killinochchi has an ailing child. Apparently one day when he went to Killinochchi to collect the child he was taken by the LTTE. The LTTE had told him “since you are a pastor, you can be a great asset to our cause, if you do as we tell you then you can take the child out of Killinochchi”. The pastor said that he had no choice but to accept their offer. I do not know to what extent he is telling the truth, but he accepted the task assigned to him.
He had an accomplice and both of them were working in the Church. This pastor was from a different sect, he does not wear a robe but only a collared shirt. Another man from Mannar, brought down twelve suicide jackets and gave it to them. The pastor cut open the seats of his vehicle and inserted the jackets. Then he arranged some priests from his church in Colombo to attend a function in Mannar and then they all came back to Colombo bringing the explosives with them. They knew that since all were pastors travelling in the same vehicle, no one would suspect them.
They arrived at the Medawachchiya road block, the explosives were not detected. They dropped off three jackets in Nuwara Eliya. Then they came to Colombo, it was only when they were handing over the two jackets in Colombo that they were caught. They had sent some jackets to Kalmunai as well. During questioning he told us that there were more jackets at home, buried behind the church. I quickly called the Police in Mannar and the Army and they were able to recover the balance jackets.
The main lesson here is the method used by the LTTE to transport these materials. They used a pastor. They brainwashed him. This arrest was very important, through this we were able to capture such a lot and prevent a catastrophe. Imagine if the Police hadn’t arrested them in Mabola, Wattala. Imagine what it would have been like in Colombo today if we had not arrested him. Not only the jackets in Colombo , but also the ones in Nuwara Eliya and Kalmunai would have been detonated if not for the timely arrest. Following the arrest within one month we were able to uncover everything. That is why Colombo is in this state now.
What about the Piliyandala bomb explosion case?
The most important aspect of this case is that the LTTE had sent the bomber to Colombo one year before the incident. While he was waiting, he received a call one day, asking him to come and collect the bomb. A man wearing sunglasses handed over a bomb and said that he will receive instructions. He brought the bomb home and kept it under his bed for four days.
Then he received a call one day, telling him to detonate the bomb in a CTB bus. This man and his accomplice brought the bomb a distance of 5 Km in a bus. The bomb was taken in a bag just like an ordinary parcel. They brought it in a bus to the Piliyandala junction. Earlier the accomplice had come to Piliyandala and informed him that the coast was clear as no armed personnel were in town.
The bomber cannot speak a word of Sinhala. We have asked bus drivers and conductors to be more vigilant but in this instance they were not. The bomber came to the Piliyandala bus stand and got down from the bus and looked around, as he did not see anything to concern him he got into the other bus placed the bomb on the luggage rack and got down again. No one noticed. He walked to the other side of the road, the bus engine started; he turned around with his back to the bus and detonated the bomb. I asked him why he turned his back, he said he could not watch. When the bomb exploded he fell on to the floor and he immediately went home.
I went to the scene of the explosion; people need to see the devastation caused by terrorism. There were two pregnant women in that bus, it was heart wrenching to see. One lady was only five months pregnant. People should see the bodies of the dead. I cannot describe the sorrow of those women’s husbands. It was heart breaking to see them cry. I showed the pictures to them and the culprits started crying. I can not imagine such a scene. All the bodies were in pieces, bodies of small children. It was a terrible sight.
How was the Dehiwela train bomb explosion case solved?
The Dehiwela train incident was another devastating sight. Now that we have seen so much of blood and death in such a terrible way, we have become hardened, why are such things happening? Regardless of who does it, a crime is a crime – a tragedy. In this case, the most important aspect was that we received information about a suspicious person from the public. When we arrested him he confessed to the crime. He said that he threw the remote into a canal and we went and retrieved that as well. This was also very successful and we have indicted the man. He said that he will plead guilty. Anyway we have concrete evidence against him.
The main man is a LTTE cadre and he is a computer engineer. He was residing in Nawala for about eight years. Then one day his mother called and said that his brother had been taken away by the LTTE. So this person went to meet the LTTE. They had said that his brother is with them and that they will send the brother back only if he does what the LTTE tells him to do in Colombo. He had agreed and the LTTE had given him a full training. Then he became a hardcore LTTE. They brainwashed him by showing various negative aspects about the Government etc. Again, we do not know how true the story about the brother is, but it could be true because he was in Colombo for eight years without any trouble and then suddenly he gets involved with the LTTE.
The LTTE gave him a very big task to fulfil. During an entire year he was transporting bombs from one place to another. He had an accomplice as well. He goes to Wellawatte where he is informed of his task of bombing the train. He goes to the Wellawatte train station but the police are there. Then he goes to the Colpetty station and the STF are there. Finally he goes to the Dehiwela junction, there too he meets the police when he turns back and gets to the track through a by lane. He went up to the train got in; he kept the parcel. When the train started moving he got down and detonated the bomb using the remote control. About sixty people were killed in this attack. Afterwards he came straight home and went to sleep. He said he didn’t go to work for two days because he was upset by what he had seen.
After about a month he was asked to set another bomb. He went to the Dehiwela railway station, as there was a big army presence he didn’t know what to do. Therefore he took the bomb and started walking towards Colombo on the railway line. At that moment the train was coming towards Dehiwela. He placed the bomb on the railway track and detonated the bomb with the aim of toppling the train. The train didn’t topple. When he was trying to escape, people tried to catch him. Though he managed to get away he dropped his bag. Once we had the bag we were able to gather all his information including the place he worked. We went straight to his office where we were able to get his photograph from his personal file. By noon we put his photograph in all the news telecasts. Then we did a telephone analysis and we found the last call was in Dambulla. Through that we knew that he was travelling to Killinochchi. We immediately emailed and faxed the picture and all the details to Vavuniya and all the check points such as Iryankulum. Then exactly at the checkpoint, a WPC captured him. The email with the picture was received by the checkpoints by 1.30 pm, by 2 pm we caught him.
If not for our quick action, he might have escaped to Killinochchi and we would not have been able to capture him. Through this capture we were able to break the cell in Wellawatte. There were four people in this cell; we were able to catch all of them. We were also able to recover 27 Kg of C4 explosives and two revolvers on the roof of the house.
All active cells in the Wellawatte area have been destroyed. However, we have been informed that there are two or three cells that are not active at the moment. The operation was successful because we able to use technologies such as email etc. The Secretary of Defence and the IGP played a key role in supporting us whenever we need their assistance. Breaking the case would have been difficult if we were to do this by ourselves. Since we had the support from the top we were able to do this well. The culprit has been indicted as well.
The Secretary Of Defence And The Inspector General Of Police Played A Key Role In Supporting Us When We Needed Their Assistance. Breaking The Dehiwela Railway Bomb Case Would Have Been Difficult If Not For The Support We Received From The Top.
There was an attempt on the life of Minister Maithripala Sirisena; can you explain to us how this case was solved?
We conducted an investigation in Boralesgamuwa, where the target was Minister Maithripala Sirisena. This case is very important.
A young woman was sent to Colombo with another woman of around 60 years of age. The LTTE did not tell her what her mission was. However the elderly woman was informed to live with the young girl and find a place stay in Colombo. They found a house in Wellawatte for rent. The LTTE told the older woman to treat the girl as her daughter and that they will let her know the target very soon. They were staying above a Sinhala woman’s house. The Sinhala woman is also in our custody at the moment. This girl is quite attractive, she would have music on and they were living like any other family. She would read a lot of Sinhala books and she would dress very well. The woman acting like her mother would say that they are staying in Colombo till her daughter went abroad. For two months they followed Minister Maithripala Sirisena. The main break in this case was when we found her SIM on the scene.
The SIM was found 75 meters away from the scene, towards Piliyanadala. It is very difficult to find such tiny items. Therefore the Scene of Crime Officers (SOCO) work very hard. In this particular case we swept about 2 Km, it is only then that we can find these things. Through the location of the SIM we were able to find that there were two handlers. Upon concluding the telephone analysis we were able to determine that the two handlers and the suicide bomber were together at the same place.
During this particular mission, one handler was in Boralesgamuwa town, the other handler was in Piliyandala and there was another in Nugegoda. There were three handlers. Until the target is taken, the handlers stay in close proximity to the suicide bomber because you never know when the suicide bomber might change his/her mind. They know that they are going to die, so there is a possiblity that they may change their mind. Therefore, there are at least two or three handlers in every case.
On the day of the incident, Minister Maithripala Sirisena had gone to an opening in Bandaragama. The suicide bomber went by bus to Kesbewa, then took a three-wheeler to Piliyandala junction. From there she walked towards Boralesgamuwa waiting for the target to come from behind. When we looked at the telephone analysis, we could see her coming from Piliyandala. She was wearing a long skirt and blouse and was wearing the suicide jacket underneath. When the motorcade came, she jumped to the vehicle, but the minister’s vehicle went past and she could only hit the second vehicle. Therefore, she was not successful in taking the target.
The telephone analysis shows that, three days prior to the incident both handlers and the suicide bomber were in Peliyagoda. On that day, the Minister went for a function, just 2 Km away, but they could not take the target. There was another day, when all three were in Moratuwa, that day the Minister went to Moratuwa for an opening. Another day the bomber was at Castle Street around 10.00 am, one handler at Borella and the other at Castle Street. All three were together. On that particular day parliament was in session and the Minister went around 10.00 am. They have tried several times to attack him. Minister Maithripala Sirisena is a main target.
We did not know where the suicide bomber was located, therefore we looked at the calls she has made at night. The telephone analysis showed that she was in Wellawatta, close to the police station. There is a vast area that comes under this area. So we cordoned off the complete area and checked. We showed the photo of the bomber and asked if the person lived there. We came to the house of the woman who lived below the suicide bomber’s house and she said there was no such person living there since both the mother and daughter were not there. Since the suicide bomber could not be traced, we did the telephone analysis again and it was confirmed that she lived in this area. Then we went and asked if there were people who lived on rent and left. When we went to that particular house again, the woman said there were some people upstairs but they have been gone for two days and that they are not the people we were looking for. We broke open the door and it was indeed the residence of the suicide bomber. We found three suicide jackets which were prepared for a mission. The woman living downstairs confessed that the suicide bomber lived there and that she lied because she was scared. The suicide bomber’s ID had a Sinhala name; it was a fake name. We found her comb at home, so we cross checked the DNA of her blood samples with the hair and we got a positive match.
We wanted to get hold of the woman who portrayed herself as the mother of the suicide bomber. From the telephone analysis we found that she called a number in Vavuniya everyday. We obtained the details in Vavuniya and forwarded the information to DIG in Vavuniya. We were able to capture fourteen people in this particular house in vavuniya. Some were old people and the person portraying herself as the mother was also there. She confessed that the LTTE had given instructions to keep the suicide bomber as her daughter until the target was taken. There is a grave charge against her and she is under our custody now. Through the telephone analysis, we were able to locate her and find out her activities. Every night at 10.00 pm she used to give a call to the handler. The handler was living in Armour Street, in a lodge. Soon after the incident he absconded. The other handler was captured later on. Therefore, through quick telephone analysis and due diligence we were able to break this case.
In the Mihintale police area we captured a suicide bomber. That arrest was done by the SIS (State Intelligence Service) and the investigation was conducted by the Colombo Crimes Division. This is a different story altogether. The LTTE had given him a suicide jacket as well as the name of the target directly. A luxury car was rented in Colombo so that there would not be any suspicion. The suicide bomber was picked up in Palugaswewa and the jacket was hidden inside the woofers. Once the bomber arrived in Colombo he got in touch with his handler.
Usually the LTTE works in such a way that first the suicide bomber comes to Colombo and then he/she gets to know the target afterwards. For example, in the assassinations of the former President Premadasa, the bomber was with him for three years. Even in the case of General Parami Kulathunga, the suicide bomber waited for one and a half years, but the target was not given. It was given later. In this particular case the target was already given.
The Padukka bus bomb was another special incident. There were two people involved in this incident. The LTTE had asked one cadre to bring the other to Colombo and give him driving lessons so that he will know all the roads in Colombo. Therefore, the bomber was enrolled in a driving institute and he obtained the driving license. The LTTE sent Rs 1.2 million to buy a van. The van was fitted with explosives. Before they execute any attack the van and the LTTE cadre was detected and detained. The explosives were in Batticaloa and we took all these explosives into our possession. Through this recovery we were able to prevent a massive explosion in Colombo. Otherwise it could have been used to target a VVIP. The explosives were sufficient to blast the van far away from the target but still incur a large damage through the explosion. Through the hard work of the officers we were able to prevent a major attack.
At the same time the LTTE had instructed these two cadres to target a bus that travels from Kottawa to Kirindiwela taking army officers on leave. Their aim was to detonate the bomb when the bus was on the Hanwella Bridge.
Once they received the bomb they took it from Modara to Town Hall, from Town Hall to Maharagama and then to Kottawa. They got into a bus at Kottawa, one of the cadres was at the front of the bus with the remote and the other got in from the back and kept the bomb on the rack. When he tried to get off the bus, a lady saw him and alerted the people. He panicked. There was small tussle to get hold of the bag, during that time the pin of the bomb that causes it to blast was dislodged. Therefore, when the bomb was thrown out of the bus and detonated the there was only a minor explosion.
The LTTE cadre who was assigned the duty of detonating the bomb did not want to do so while the tussle was going on as it would have killed the cadre who had kept the bomb. If he had done so, he would have had to answer to the LTTE, as the plan was to place the bomb in the bus. This man is actually a suicide bomber and his mission was to explode himself on a later date. We were able to capture this man.
We awarded Rs 10 lakhs to the person who furnished us information about the other person involved in this incident. We received accurate information that he was in the Ella police area in a Kovil in a tea estate. We arrested him and he confessed. He was captured two months after the incident. The remote that he had thrown away after the Hanwella incident was also recovered. By the time he was arrested the van and the explosives were already in our custody but without telling him we asked about those and he gave us the details. Through that the Modara safe house was destroyed. The credit should actually go to the lady who was in the bus, if she had not been observant, there would have been a major explosion on the Hanwella bus and even the van would have been exploded by now. It was a very successful investigation.
All these incidents took place in 2008, and we have been able to solve them very quickly. The credit goes to all the hardworking officers involved.
In addition to these we have arrested many LTTE members and recovered explosives. We have contributed immensely to make Colombo safe.
The CCD is also involved in investigating extortion/ransom cases, can you tell us about this aspect of your work?
Recently a Tamil person received a call from a person claiming to be from the Karuna faction, he was asked to furnish Rs 10 million, if not his two children will be killed. He went to India for six months, upon his arrival back in Sri Lanka he received a call on the way from the airport saying “since you are back keep the Rs 10 million ready.” We made him negotiate with the callers and brought down the amount to Rs 5 million. The money was arranged and they decided to meet in the lobby of a well known private hospital in Colombo. He was asked to sit in a particular manner, when the suspect approached him and took the bag we arrested him. When we questioned the suspect it was revealed that the main man is in Vavuniya and he had asked them to pick up the money. We did a telephone analysis and found out that the person concerned was not in Vavuniya, but in Anuradhapura. Through our analysis we found that call was generated from a place between the bus stand and the prison. Then the person in our custody told us that the person is actually an inmate of the Anuradhapura prison and he carries out these operations from the prison. We went to the Anuradhapura prison and found him. He had everything with him including the phone. It was a really successful mission. We did a telephone analysis and looked at all the numbers that he had called, we looked at his bank account details and we talked to all the people he had spoken to and found out that they had extorted large sums of money. Everyone had given money because of fear. The most important thing is not to make the complainant scared; we have to talk to them and not allow them to go home. The moment we let him go home, they get scared and give the money. One day ,while we were negotiating with the extortionist, the mother had gone and given the money. The mother had given the money because she was scared. People are scared because they don’t want any harm to come to their family.
People should not be scared, they should complain. There have been many cases where people have made complaints and we have arrested the people involved. There has been no harm done to the complainants. There are Tamils in Wellawatta and Colombo who give large sums of money the moment they receive a call, merely because they are scared.
We have a surveillance system in place, which is essential for even ordinary crimes. Any man who goes for an illegal mission behaves in a different way. So, if they are detected and if their behaviour is analysed it is not difficult to identify those people. I am the coordinating officer of the surveillance effort in Colombo. Senior DIG is also involved in this.
The Secretary Of Defence Gotabaya Rajapaksa Is Our Strength, He Has Succeeded In Bringing Us All Together As One Team, Which Has Been The Key To Our Successes. We Are Very Fortunate To Have Him Lead Us.
What would you say is the reason behind the successes of the CCD?
Actually the main person responsible for ensuring good security in Colombo is Secretary of Defence Gotabaya Rajapaksa. We have to update him on our progress weekly, furthermore, the Inspector General of Police also keep on the constant go by inquiring about investigation on a daily basis. Senior DIG Nimal Mediwake gives us his utmost support as well. The Secretary of Defence is our strength; he has succeeded in bringing all of us together as one team, which has resulted in the success of our investigations. We are actually very lucky to have him because he is the strength behind us. By working in a team the importance of the investigations have also grown. Thus, as a united team we have ensured the current secure environment in Colombo.
Our Scene of Crime Officers work really hard. The talent of an investigation officer is his ability to collect evidence at a scene of crime. If a tiny little piece such as a SIM is missed, that it is the end of the investigation. As you can see, we went very far with the Lotus Road bomb blast. We went as far as the assassination of Minister D M Dassanayaka. Our key was the SIM.
The CCD is successful in capturing many of the LTTE cadre. Had we not caught these people, Colombo would have been in flames and all the VIPs would have been attacked by now.
A major reason for our success is that we all work as one team; not only within the CCD we work as one with the DMI (the Military Intelligence), SIS, TID, CID and WP Intelligence. That is our strength. We have the support of all these units. We need that support when we go for an investigation. Similarly, when the CID or any other division goes for an investigation we give them our fullest support. Actually such investigations need full dedication of all staff, you just cannot do them for the sake of doing it. We have to be really dedicated. It is the dedication that matters, without the dedication you cannot achieve results. The results you see today are due to our dedication. It is teamwork. That is what we need.
Furthermore, the meetings we have with the Defence Secretary are very important. No matter how busy he is he will always make time for us because he knows the importance of talking to us every week. At these meetings he asks us everything, nothing is left for another day. Therefore, it is a great encouragement for us. We risk our lives for these operations and investigations. All that we have is the encouragement that they give us. They do not let us down. There is the possibility of errors taking place in these investigations, but we know that since we are not doing something wrong we will always be encouraged. The success behind our investigations is the encouragement given by the Secretary of Defence, Inspector General of Police and Senior DIG Nimal Mediwaka. The IGP also offers handsom rewards and promotions to those who make important contributions in handling these matters. To be honest, if not for our commitment, Colombo would have been on fire.
It is with great pride that I say that the CCD has contributed immensely in protecting the city of Colombo. We made a significant contribution in preventing terrorism in Colombo.
There may have been setbacks during investigations, can you tell us how you overcame these setbacks and kept your officers motivated?
The Secretary of Defence speaks to all the CCD units and the IGP also speaks to our units regularly. Usually we have about 12 units working on investigations and I speak to all units every day. I always inquire about what they are doing each day and direct them in the right direction. As the senior officer when you keep inquiring from them the task will be done. Now if I hand them the inquiry and ask them after two months what is happening then they will give various excuses and the motivation is also gone. But when I keep pushing them then they are also motivated and eager to solve the case. This is exactly what the Secretary of Defence did as well. At every meeting he gives us instructions and he keeps pushing us to give our best. Then we also fell in line with his direction. From him we were encouraged and made confident. Then our IGP, he would ask me everyday for a report on the investigations. He also keeps on asking us for results. As I said before, Senior DIG Nimal Mediwake has also been a big strength. Under this environment anyone who has the commitment and dedication would be able to successfully conduct these investigations.
If I give you an example, when we went to Vavuniya to catch the 60 year old LTTE woman, our officers went so many times looking for her. They went all over Sri Lanka to catch her; they were in Vavuniya for a very long time. They would call and tell me that they have not been successful, but I kept on encouraging and motivating them. We did not catch her in one go; it was with great effort that these were done. As senior officers we should know how to motivate them to keep going and push them to work towards achieving our goals.
There is a team that goes to the field; the main thing that motivates them is the senior officers talking to them. Once they do something we show our appreciation. In the Police Department, when any commendable work is done the IGP commends the relevant officer and gives him monetary rewards. Our officers have received many rewards for the contributions that they have made. They are promoted for the work they have done. It is then they become motivated; it is a big relief for the officers. Leave alone the LTTE, even for resolving any ordinary crime, the Inspector General of Police treats them the same.
I need to assure the public that we do not bend to any political influence. We always do our best to bring the perpetrators to justice. That is our commitment.
His Excellency The President, Secretary Of Defence And The Government Have Taken The Right Decision To Destroy The LTTE. Thousands Of People Have Sacrificed Their Lives For This Country And There Is No Doubt That We Should Salute Our Heroes.
The public is not aware of the achievements of the CCD, is there any specific reason for that?
If you look at the media, they never give publicity to the good things that we do. For instance, the breakthrough in the Rs 10 million extortion case did not get any publicity. However if we make one small mistake it is highlighted in the media. We are not disheartened by such actions. If the police does something wrong, show it, but similarly, if they do something good, show that was well. There are some media personnel who never show anything positive about the Police. They are against the Police. You can not do this by going against each other. Media has the right to criticise the Police. They also have the responsibility to praise the good work done by the Police. That does not happen. We have done so many good things, but nothing has been shown to the public. They are waiting to pounce on any mistake we make, but they have nothing to show as we don’t do anything wrong. I am very proud to say that.
What are your final thoughts?
His Excellency the President, Secretary of Defence and the Government have taken the right decision to destroy the LTTE. Thousands of people have sacrificed their lives for this country and there is no doubt that we should salute our heroes who have sacrificed their lives and limbs to protect this country.