Lankanewsweb is able to reveal exclusively today the plans under way by Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, to fully overhaul the State Intelligence Service (SIS), Sri Lanka’s premier intelligence organisation.
The SIS is what the CIA is to the United States, MI-5 to the United Kingdom, Mossad to Israel, RAW to India and ISI to Pakistan.
Gotabhaya wants to keep the SIS under his close control by increasing its surveillance and intelligence gathering capabilities politically. People identified as threats to the Government, most importantly in the opposition political parties, trade unions, non-governmental organisations, media, civil society organisations are among those who will come under close watch under a new scheme.
Monitoring of telephones of these persons as well as profiling of them for a major data base to be established is to be given highest priority. Helping in this task is so called Professor Rohan Gunaratne, who works for a “counter terrorism” organisation in Singapore. This is said to be a front for his undercover operations to gather intelligence for foreign organisations.
Gotabhaya has handpicked a controversial police officer to head the State Intelligence Service with effect from September 1. He is Chandra Nimal Wakista and is also known as Wakiya. He is presently an acting Deputy Inspector General of Police. Since he is acting, he continues to draw the salary of a Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP). He has little or no experience in intelligence gathering nor has he been trained in this field either in Sri Lanka or abroad.
Gotabhaya’s decision to make Wakista one of the most powerful and soon to be most feared policeman in Sri Lanka has already sent shockwaves in the upper echelons of the Police Department. It has also become the talking point in diplomatic missions in Colombo.
Gunaratne, who is a personal friend of Wakista and uses his vehicles on visits to Colombo, now, has the power to call from any file from the SIS. He is also preparing several reports to him on how to carry out intelligence work. He has told Wakista that he needs materials from time to time to write speeches and reports for Gotabhaya.
Wakista is to be the Sri Lanka’s spy chief whilst serving as the head of the Terrorism Investigation Division – TID. Though terrorism has been defeated two years ago, the TID is still the most feared section in the Police and dreaded by parents of over a thousand Tamil youth held in custody without charges. Recently, the leader of the Tamil United Liberation Front, V. Anandasangary made a complaint to the police that several Tamil parents had complained to him that they had to pay large sums of money to seek the release of their children.
In one instance, a parent had paid Rs 250,000 and got his son released. In another instance, Rs 350,000 seized from a terrorist hideout was found missing. Staff at the TID had to make contributions to raise the money. The former Tamil MP has alleged that payments were being sought by Inspector Prasanna Silva who works directly under Wakista. So far, there has not been an inquiry into the complaint by Anandasangary, a senior police official said.
Making the situation worse is the fact that Wakista is running a canteen at the Boosa Detention Centre in Galle. All inmates and parents are compelled to buy their victuals from this canteen which is manned by two of Wakista’s men, Indraratne and Nishantha. Before weaning his way into Gotabhaya’s heart, Wakista had run a hopper boutique at Hokandara. His wife, a retired woman police constable served as cashier during the day whilst Wakista worked in the night.
Just three months ago, Wakista’s brand new vehicle was driven by
his son. He wrecked it. Gotabhaya asked him to have it repaired in a private garage ignoring all Police regulations. Such is his power.
Vehicle movement records at the TID headquarters show that Wakista is in the habit of making regular visits ostensibly to inspect the Boosa Detention Camp. However, almost all visits have ended up at his estate in Galle where he has launched a project to grow Dragon Fruit. Some constables under Wakista have also been deployed for this purpose.
The former Inspector General of Police, Mahinda Balasuriya, who has been rewarded with a diplomatic appointment in Brazil, police sources told Lankanewsweb, had covered up a complaint from a counsel representing a leading business house in Singapore. He had alleged that Wakista had taken into custody the Tamil businessman Gnanasunderam at the instigation of his business rival. They complain he is still in custody and no investigation has been carried out so far.
Whilst senior and experienced officers in the SIS are being transferred out, Wakista is selecting his own staff and plans are afoot to move them to the SIS office at Maitland Crescent. Gotabhaya has given him a blank check to re-organise the intelligence gathering to suit is own needs. Some senior police officers say this is a dangerous trend since Gotabhaya has got full control of the armed forces. Now with a sinister re organisation of the State Intelligence Service, even the lives of law abiding citizens can be at risk. If they do not toe the Government’s line, Wakista the spy can report it. Then Wakista the TID boss can arrest them as terrorist suspects.
With the appointment of Wakista, plans are afoot to set up a large branch organisation of the SIS in Jaffna.
Watch out for more details in this website soon.