By Lal Gunasekera
A senior cadre of Eastern Province Chief Minister S. Chandrakanthan’s party TMVP was arrested yesterday by the CID at Wennappuwa for masterminding the robbery of Rs. 160 million cash and Rs 15 million in jewellery from the People’s Bank branch at Puttur two weeks ago.
The police said a person who resembled a leading politician in the Eastern Province had been seen riding a motorcycle towards the house of the suspect in Batticaloa a few minutes before the place was raided yesterday, but the mysterious rider had disappeared before the police could intercept him.
Five men had arrived in a white van and staged the robbery. None of the robbers have so far been arrested. In addition to those five, investigators are on the trail of five others in connection with the heist.
Security sources told The Island last night that two former factions of the LTTE were committing illegal activities in the East.
They had between them nearly 15,000 cadres and though the government had offered them two amnesties to surrender their arms only about 80 weapons had been handed over by one faction, while the other had retained their arms, the police said.
Sources said that the government had been alerted to a grave security threat posed by those two factions as well as another extremist group with a membership of about 300 to 400 persons, but most of their weapons had been surrendered.
The army has now offered a fresh amnesty to surrender all illegal arms in the province by July 31 as there are hundreds of automatic weapons in the possession of various criminal elements there.
Last year another bank was robbed at Kalawanchikudi, but so far only one suspect has been arrested.