Arrest of Indian National in Kuliyapitiya

Arrest of Indian National in Kuliyapitiya; History repeats itself ?

by Staff Writer 20-03-2021 | 2:13 PM

Colombo (News 1st); On Friday, Sri Lanka Police said it arrested an Indian national for allegedly vandalizing several Buddha Statues in Kuliyapitiya on Thursday (18), night.

This is not the first time an Indian made headlines by being arrested in Sri Lanka. Back in 2018, Marceli Thomas, an Indian national was arrested for possible links to an alleged plot to assassinate then-Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena as well as Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who at the time was not President, but was the country's Ex-Secretary of Defence. A person named Namal Kumara, calling himself the Director (Operations) of an Anti-Corruption Task Force held a press conference on 15th September, 2018 where he played some recorded conversations indicating a conspiracy against the head of intelligence and various police officers. The tape seemed to indicate that DIG Nalaka de Silva from Sri Lanaka's Terrorism Investigation Division (TID) was involved in an attempt to tarnish the reputations of several senior police officers. What also comes out is that the said DIG didn't like the president at all, or those around him. The next update is was that the anti-corruption activist had alleged that the DIG himself was in a plot to assassinate the president, and a former defence secretary Gotbaya Rajapaksa (Elected President in 2020). He reportedly even recorded some conversations with Nalaka de Silva which proved this, but erased it later out of fear. Whether a copy of the tape exists yet is unclear. Media reports thereafter, placed him as a police informant. A few days later an Indian national Marceli Thomas, was arrested (26th September 2018), apparently when he came to "warn" Namal Kumara that he is going to be framed. Then-Police Spokesperson SP Attorney-at-Law Ruwan Gunasekera said Thomas arrived in Sri Lanka in January 2017 and the TID that detained him had no clear picture as to how he received money from overseas, adding it was being investigated.* “After Namal Kumara's revelations were made public, the Indian national claimed he visit Kumara's residence to inquire into these claims on several occasions,” said Gunasekera. Several days later came another unexpected development. The Indian High Commission was quoted as saying that after due diligence, they had found that Thomas had a history of mental illness since 2000. Thomas was termed mentally unfit and was put under the care of doctors at a hospital of mental care near Colombo. Thomas claimed innocence and alleged that the police are trying to frame him in the case. A flurry of accusations and counter accusations followed. The Sri Lankan Opposition demanded that Nalaka be arrested to allow impartial investigations into a matter of national security. The DIG was first transferred out of his post to the IT cell, and was then sent on compulsory leave pending an investigation. Some including the National Freedom Front accused him of having connections with the LTTE; yet others claimed that there was a counter plot to kill the DIG to prevent the truth from coming out. Meanwhile the investigations continued. Voice samples were initially confirmed as that of the DIG and the tape itself was available in the media. Later it was said, that the tape would be sent to Singapore for forensic investigation.

Sirisena alleged that RAW was plotting his assassination

On the 16th of October then-Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena accused India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) of plotting his assassination, said The Hindu. At the weekly Cabinet meeting, Sirisena told Ministers that the Indian intelligence agency was “trying to kill” him, but “Prime Minister Narendra Modi may not be aware of the plan,” The Hindu reported that it learnt of this accusation from sources present at the discussion. The Hindu source linked the discussion on the alleged assassination plot, to the development of the Colombo port and Indian involvement in upgrading the East Container Terminal, and President Sirisena’s opposition to it leading to an argument with his then-Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. * Later on, the 27th of February 2019, court acquitted the Indian national arrested and remanded over the alleged plot to assassinate Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena and former Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa of the conspiracy charges. And since then, nothing was heard from Thomas who appears have to have gone dark. Did he go back to India? Or is he still in Sri Lanka with an alias? However, there are serious concerns now as to why in 2021, and Indian national made his way alone to Kuliyapitiya to allegedly cause damage to Buddhist statues. Kuliyapitiya in the Kurunegala District is one of the areas where riots took place in 2019, soon after the April 21st Attacks which killed hundreds and injured many more.