Sri Lanka: police conceal identity of policeman who pulled gun at Tamil MP

Police in northern Sri Lanka declined to disclose the identity of a policeman who apparently tried to shoot at a Tamil lawmaker in a public place.

The plainclothes policeman lurking in the shadows of a nearby building had been seen loading a pistol and taking aim at Tamil National Peoples Front (TNPF) Leader Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam who was meeting a group of young sportsmen in Vadamarachchi east, Jaffna.

A senior police officer who visited the scene and confirmed that the man who aimed the firearm was indeed a police intelligence official, had rejected the MP’s request to reveal the identity of the potential assassin.

The police officer in uniform who claimed to be the ‘SI Jayatissa’ had also failed to produce any identification for himself.

CID officers

On Friday, (2 June) TNPF Leader Ponnambalam had visited the area at the invitation of the Vadamarachchi East Cricket Club. The cricketers had sought the MPs assistance to organise a tournament.

While the meeting was taking place under the shade of a tree at the Maruthankerny public playground, two men riding a motorcycle had arrived uninvited and placed themselves just behind the MP.

Feeling suspicious, TNPF’s research officer Theepan Thelishan had approached them and asked what business they have. The two had claimed that they are Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officers and came to investigate the meeting which they alleged to be ‘illegal’.

Police and military intelligence officers at public events is a common sight. However, the MP who felt uncomfortable had requested to see their identification.

“I don’t use the ministerial security division (MSD) protection. Therefore, I need to take care of my security and you should show us proper credentials,” Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam told the two visitors.

When the two refused to provide identification and one tried to walk away, the MP had tried to stop the man leaving.

“When I tried to hold him, he hit me with his helmet and ran away,” Gajendrakumar MP told JDS.

Loaded pistol

The public including TNPF supporters had apprehended the other and questioned him who in turn phoned someone and spoke in Sinhala.

Meanwhile, another man in civvies inside the nearby school building had started shouting.

“He was spewing out utter raw filth in Sinhala and demanding that we release the guy caught by us whom he claimed to be ‘their man’. Then some cricketers started screaming that he loaded a pistol and aimed it at me,” said Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam.

A few minutes later a police sub inspector who arrived at the scene had identified himself as Jayatissa, acting OIC of the Maruthankerny police station. However, there was no identification on him, according to the MP.

“He confirmed that the man who aimed the weapon at me was a police intelligence officer. Nevertheless, he refused to show the man’s identification to me although I clearly identified myself as a member of parliament.”

The lawmaker’s request to take legal action against the refusal of identification, assault and the attempt to shoot had been denied by the Maruthankerny police OIC who had promised to send the two who disrupted the meeting on ‘punishment transfer’.

Meanwhile on Saturday (3), quoting the police, state owned 'Daily News' reported "that the MP had gone to the meeting without police security and intelligence officers were deployed for his protection." 



Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka

  • JDS is the Sri Lankan partner organization of international media rights group, Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The launching of this website was made possible by the EU’s European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), of which Reporters Without Borders is a beneficiary.