Postal Services Minister Jeewan Kumaratunge was at a dinner with a Chinese delegation along with Mr. Mahesh, an Additional Secretary to the President at his residence when Senaratne’s driver informed him of the abduction.
“I was told that Minister Kumaratunge had immediately informed the President and the IGP about the abduction. I assume this alert would have helped my release,” Senaratne told The Sunday Leader.
According to Senaratne, President Rajapaksa and the IGP had assured Minister Kumaratunge quick action to arrest the abductors.
Senaratne who crossed over to the SLFP from the UNP is the Colombo District SLFP Organizer. He was on his way to Hanwella from Jubilee Post, Nugegoda when he was abducted by a well-built gang in a dark blue coloured van on Monday March 26 around 7.30 p.m. in front of the Naga Viharaya, Kotte.
He was released after a few hours near White House Restaurant in Kandana after the abductors received a telephone call to one of their mobiles. Senaratne says he does not know who was behind his abduction and why they released him immediately after they received a call on their mobile.
“I know for certain that the abductors knew me. I did not see their faces. The driver of the van called me by my first name while the others called me ‘sir’. They wanted a Rs.50 million ransom. While they were discussing this on our way, one of them received a call on his mobile. I overheard him saying, ‘I do not know anything in this regard ask him’ and the mobile was passed from one hand to another passing the blame from one to another. No sooner this particular call was received, the van stopped abruptly and they were in panic.
After a few seconds they wanted me to close my eyes tightly and they dragged me out of the van. I thought that it was my last few seconds alive. I was pushed against a parapet wall and warned not to open my eyes for fifteen minutes and they then drove off,” Senaratne said.
Although Senaratne believes that his abductors received instructions from a powerful person for his release, he still cannot figure out who was behind the move.
“Maybe this happened after my brother-in-law Minister Kumaratunge informed the President and the IGP. However I know for certain that my abductors knew of this relationship but still abducted me for ransom. It was that call that led them to drop me off at Kandana. I presume the caller was their ‘boss’. He may have received a call from another powerful person to release me immediately,” said Senaratne.
Following his abduction, Senaratne has received many calls from his friends in Nugegoda, Avissawella and Killinochchi with information of abductions that have been taking place in those respective areas over the past few months.
“So many people have been abducted from Nugegoda, Avissawella and Killinochchi for ransom. If this continues further without any breakthrough the situation could be more serious,” added Senaratne.
According to Senaratne, the moment he was abducted his driver had informed the police emergency number 119
“Within a minute of my abduction my driver had called the police 119 emergency number. I was taken all over Colombo in the same van for about three hours. Had the police informed the check points the vehicle would have been nabbed very easily,” said Senaratne.
He further said how the abductors wanted him to keep ready the money they wanted.
“Before I was released I was asked to keep the money they wanted ready. They told me that they will call me on my mobile and to bring it to the place they named. If they are not known to me how do they know my mobile number? This was a well-planned job and it was handled in an extremely ‘professional’ way. I believe this group is well trained for this job,” Senaratne added.
Senaratne now lives in fear and said that he has to take extra precautionary action to prevent a repetition. “Not only myself, but I am concerned about my family’s safety as well. Who knows who was behind this move and what their goal was?” said Senaratne.