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NewsMinister Devananda has great difficulties speaking the truth

Minister Devananda has great difficulties speaking the truth


by S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole
 This is the text of a Statement by Prof. S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole regarding Minister Douglas Devananda’ complaint to the Kayts Police on his article “Pitfalls in the President’s Alliance with the EPDP–A Visit to Kayts on Elections Day” (posted on Transcurrents on July 24th 2011)and the Police Questioning him about it)
2 August, 2011

I was interviewed by the Kayts Police today (2 Aug. 2011) at my office at the University of Jaffna. Inspector of Police Silva of the Kayts Crimes Branch was nice and courteous and seemed to see interviewing me as a matter of duty.

He made direct contact with me for the first time on 1 Aug. at my office in the afternoon but could not record my statement as I wanted it in a language I could understand. So he returned on 2 Aug. with a Tamil policeman, Sergeant Nanthakumaran, who recorded my statement in Tamil in response to Inspector of Police Silva describing the complaint to me and asking me for my response.

As described by IP Silva, the essence of Douglas Devananda’s complaint is that I published an article titled “Pitfalls in the President’s Alliance with the EPDP–A Visit to Kayts on Elections Day” in and that it was written in a way to ruin his reputation and make him angry. (I do not know why he singled out thesamnet when an article of that title appeared in other places as well). Devananda made six points, namely that I had said that:

1) The EPDP used pistols to scare people
 2) Tamil girls had been supplied by the EPDP to the army in Jaffna
 3) The EPDP is responsible for the night-time robberies and murders in Jaffna
 4) For the 2011 local government elections the armed forces were used to favour the EPDP
 5) The EPDP had terrorized the voters in Kayts
 6) Devananda is engaged in criminal activities

I was asked to respond. My translation of what I said follows.

My name is Samuel Ratnajeevan Herbert Hoole. I am 58 years old and a Ceylon Tamil Christian. I am a professor by profession and am married. My address is 88 Chemmany Road, Nallur, Jaffna. My telephone number is             021-222-0190      .

First thank you for being so mindful of my convenience in coming all the way from Kayts to the university to record this statement and for the opportunity to respond.

Minister Devananda has described me as his friend of many years [My note: This happened when before the Jaffna University VC elections I was appointed as the UGC Coordinator for Engineering in Jaffna and I was informed by Professor Carlo Fonseka that Devananda was angry and had boasted to the Minister for Higher Education that they can appoint me to anything in engineering but he controls the Council and would never allow me to be elected to the panel of three names to be forwarded to the President for the post of VC. I was therefore warned to mend fences with Devananda. Subsequently when I asked Devananda what the problem was, his response was “No I did not say anything like that. Did you not tell Professor Fonseka that we are friends of long years? I must ask him why he said this.”]

Yet today in a civil matter he has involved the police as if this is a criminal matter. His purpose, it seems to me, is to scare all those who oppose him in politics. His message is this – “If you speak against me, the police will come after you!

It seems to me that Minister Devananda has great difficulties speaking the truth. For example according the EPDP News of 29 July [Friday], the police searched for me, contacted me and had begun questioning me. But IP Silva knows that the police spoke to me first only on 1 August [Monday]. Further, according to the EPDP News of Sunday 31 July, I had agreed to come to Kayts Police Station on the 31st but subsequently had telephoned to say that I would not be coming and had agreed to come on Monday. But IP Silva knows that the first time I spoke to the police was only on 1 Aug in my office in Jaffna. These show how much Minister Devananda is to be believed. By making the public believe that I am wanted by the police for some crime I committed, he has caused great harm to my reputation. At the right time, in the right place, I shall take the right action.

I am a professor. Being careful with my words is part of my training. All that I have written, I have written with care and truthfulness. It is for the purpose of correcting my friend Devananda from any wicked course he may traverse that I wrote what I wrote. With these as preface, let me take up his 6 charges against me in the order IP Silva enunciated them.

1. I did not use the word pistol anywhere in my article

2. I did not write that he has supplied Tamil girls to the army. What I wrote is that leaked US Embassy cables made that claim about his supplying Tamil girls to the army

3. I did not say that the EPDP is responsible for the night-time robberies and murders in Jaffna. What I stated is that Major General Hathurusinghe made a statement that EPDP cadres are responsible for the night time murders and robberies in Jaffna.

4. Yes, the armed forces were taking sides in the elections. When there were unlawful EPDP posters in front of the polling station and I complained, the Sub-Inspector of Police who came apologetically told me that he was under orders from higher authorities not to take down any posters with the President’s image on it.

5. Yes, it is true that I wrote that Tamils have been terrorized. The police too know this well. For example in the 2002 General Elections, some TNA people came to Kayts to ask for the people’s vote. They were brutally attacked by the EPDP. On that day Jaffna University employee Perambalam and another were murdered by the EPDP. Twenty eight people including Mavai Senathirajah were admitted to Jaffna Hospital with severe injuries. Following the incident the police filed a murder case against three EPDP members, one by the name of Napoleon, another who was the Chairman of the Velanai Local Government and a third. With such an EPDP, is it wrong to write that the public is in terror of this EPDP?

6. I did not say that Devananda is engaged in criminal acts. I only wrote that there are allegations that he is involved in criminal acts. For example it is well known that there was a warrant for him in India over a murder incident.

I therefore reject all charges against me by my friend, Minister Devananda. Thank you.

At the end of my statement I was asked by IP Silva

1) Is the article in thesamnet by you? Answer: I wrote an article and sent it to several of my journalist friends. Some published it as it was, others published it after editing it and yet others published extracts. I need to study the article to answer if it is exactly what I wrote.

2) Did you write anything to make the Honourable Minister angry? Answer: No.

3) Did you send the article to thesamnet? Answer: I cannot remember. I sent it to many people.

The police left telling me everything is fine and I need not worry.

Post Script: A policeman came to my office on 4 August at 4:00 PM with what seemed a summons to be present at 9:00 AM at the Kayts Magistrate’s Court today, the 5th. It was purportedly signed and sealed by the Registrar of the Kayts Court. I consulted lawyers and was advised that it did seem to be in order. It had a reference beginning B which meant a criminal charge which would require my arrest and coming out only on bail. That seemed ominous since Devananda’s EPDP news had already written implying that I was in police custody being questioned. But strangely, no charge was mentioned.

I was advised that the judicial service has broken down in Jaffna and was told of a) a particular judge asking for some of the saris from the Thondamanaru priest which he gets as gifts from worshippers, b) a judge asking people who come to court to sell their heirloom furniture to the judge, c) a magistrate asking an MP for help in getting to be a high court judge, d) a commission being asked by a judge while the court complex in Point Perdro was built and e) sitting judges attending political events (such as the opening of the reconstructed statue of King Changili this week) organized by politicians whose matters come before the judges in attendance.

I was advised that the magistrate at the Kayts court has difficulties controlling the noisy EPDP cadres who are in court in large numbers and are known to bump into and intimidate those who come and to assault people there. Two of the lawyers I tried to retain declined expressing fear over appearing in Kayts in a case involving Devananda because they saw designs in such a hastily constructed, irregular summons with obvious gaffes and deviations from normal practice. I was advised that no criminal charge can be sustained over an article and that criminal defamation is not in our books anymore.

I was further advised that since what I received at the last minute is not a proper summons and I had other pressing duties, I should carry on with those duties and send a lawyer to verify the authenticity of the purported summons, get another convenient date so as to be properly advised about the charges and be in a position to take precautions before I step into Kayts.

Such is Kayts, the Kingdom of Devananda who, one of his admirers said recently, is our first Tamil king after King Changili. As a caution, it must be remembered that Changili is best remembered for Martyring 600 Christians in Mannar.

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