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Who alerted ASP Mahanama of his impending arrest over A’pura shooting incident?

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Uddika Premaratne

Actor-turned politician Uddika’s bid to switch allegiance to JJB thwarted

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Ongoing investigation into firing a couple of gun shots at Anuradhapura District actor turned SLPP MP Uddika Premaratne’s vehicle last September has revealed that ASP Anuradhapura Sanjiva Mahanama fired at the car after the lawmaker got out of the vehicle and entered his house at Lahiru grounds, Anuradhapura.

The officer had used the personal weapon issued to him by the police department and subsequently handed it over to police claiming a defect and obtained another weapon, according to the investigation. The attack had been staged by the lawmaker and the police officer and there was absolutely no evidence to suggest the involvement of another party.

Police spokesman DIG Nihal Thalduwa told The Island that the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) was on the verge of taking ASP Mahanamna into custody when he fled the country. “We are aware he took a flight to Malaysia about a week ago but his current whereabouts are not known,” attorney-at-law Thalduwa said.

Responding to another query, the top official admitted that ASP Mahanama appeared to have been tipped off by a person/persons aware of the breakthrough made by the investigators. According to him, the ASP’s complicity in the incident had been established and there was no ambiguity whatsoever in that regard.

First time entrant to Parliament at the 2020 August general election contested Anuradhapura district on the SLPP ticket. The actor was one of the five National Freedom Front (NFF) members elected to parliament while its sole appointee to parliament Mohamed Muzamil was appointed through the SLPP National List.

Premaratne resigned in late February this year. S. C. Muthukumarana of SLPP filled the vacancy created by Premaratne’s resignation.

Initial reports regarding the incident suggested that the MP’s vehicle had been targeted by a group of gunmen. However, the CID investigation has revealed that ASP Mahanama arrived at the scene in a Honda Civic registered in his name and then as arranged fired at Uddika’s car parked at Lahiru grounds.

Ex-Flying Officer Keerthi Ratnayake, who had inquired into and reported on several major incidents, including 2019 Easter Sunday carnage disclosed in an interview with Chamuditha Samarawickrema that the Honda Civic had since been sold by the law enforcement officer.

Appearing on ‘Truth with Chamuditha,’ Ratnayake alleged that then MP Premaratne’s actions had been politically motivated and in line with his strategy to create environment conducive for him to switch his allegiance to Jathika Jana Balawegaya (JJB). Securing political asylum for his family in Canada appeared to be a secondary requirement, Ratnayake said, underscoring the responsibility on the part of law enforcement authorities to conduct a no holds barred investigation.

Pressed to explain, referring to authoritative sources, Ratnayake claimed that the top SLPP leadership had demanded that Premaratne quit his seat or face the consequences in case he switched his allegiance to the JJB.

According to Ratnayake, between the incident in September last year and his resignation, Premaratne accompanied his family to Canada but returned later leaving them there. Ratnayake maintained that the former MP’s primary objective had been to join the JJB claiming that he was targeted by the ‘system.’

Ratnayake said that at the time of the incident on the night of September 17 at 10.30, the MP’s police bodyguard hadn’t been with him.

Asked whether ASP Mahanama had been transferred to Police Garage following a spate of complaints against him, Ratnayake said that the officer was able to secure a transfer back to Anuradhapura as a result of pressure being exerted by some Anuradhapura based monks and the SLPP.

Ratnayake also revealed the alleged involvement of the missing ASP Mahanama with Chairman of Aura Lanka Chairman Viranjith Thambugala, who had been arrested in respect of a complaint regarding the misappropriation of Rs 70 mn but was granted bail by the Colombo Chief Magistrate.

Ratnayake discussed the role played by an attack on Surakimu Lanka Organization President Ven. Pahiyangala Ananda Sagara Thera in the Rajanganaya last February when he was there to inspect Aloe Vera plantation belonging to Thambugala. The police never conducted a proper investigation into that incident, Ratnayake said, adding that the ASP and some SLPP lawmakers and others in Anuradhapura had been involved in nefarious activities.

The ASP’s involvement in the politically motivated shooting incident staged by the then MP Premaratne wouldn’t have been properly investigated if not for the IGP directing the CID to take over the inquiry.

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