Plot to assassinate TNA legislator uncovered

January 28, 2017 01:12 am | Updated 01:12 am IST - Colombo:

Sri Lankan authorities have uncovered a plot to assassinate Tamil legislator M.A. Sumanthiran, The Hindu has learnt. Earlier this month, the Prime Minister’s office sent a message to the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentarian from Jaffna district about a “serious security threat” to his life that Mr. Sumanthiran needed to be aware of.

A well-placed source in the government, on condition of anonymity, told The Hindu that “such a message was delivered to Mr. Sumanthiran”.

The message, said to have been based on high-level intelligence reports, was passed on around the time when four men, who are former LTTE cadres, were arrested in Sri Lanka’s Tamil-majority Northern Province earlier this month.

When contacted, the police officer in charge of the police station in Kilinochchi — the northern town that was formerly the de-facto capital of the LTTE-controlled area — where two of the arrests were made, said the Terrorism Investigation Division (TID) was handling the case. The TID was not available for comment. A lawyer appearing for the arrested persons, who also did not want to be named, said the police told a magistrate court that the arrested men were in possession of claymore mines and detonators.

Security threat

Confirming that he received a security threat, Mr. Sumanthiran said the government informed him about it, sharing some specific details. On January 13, the parliamentarian, who was to be in Jaffna to participate in an event, cancelled his trip at the last minute.

Asked if it was related to the security threat, Mr. Sumanthiran said: “I cancelled my trip not on account of a security threat, but for some other reason. But I learnt later that four persons were arrested on suspicion that they had been ready with an assassination attempt for the 13th [of January] when I was supposed to be there as per the original plan.”

On the alleged link of the former LTTE cadre to the assassination plot, Mr. Sumanthiran said that most rehabilitated cadres were struggling to make a living. “We too have asked the government to initiate a programme for livelihood assistance to them. In the absence of such support, they are easy targets for exploitation by people with political motives.”

Following the arrests of the two former LTTE members in Kilinochchi, TNA MP S. Shritharan, from Kilinochchi, recently told Parliament that the government continued targeting former LTTE cadres who had been rehabilitated. Speaking to The Hindu on Friday, he said: “They are still viewed with suspicion. With no jobs, they struggle to make ends meet.”

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