``Anil's Ghost'', the new novel by the celebrated Sri Lankan-Canadian writer, Mr. Michael Ondaatje, is based on the orgy of killings and disappearances that swept southern Sri Lanka in the late 80s when government-backed death squads put down an armed insurrection by the Janatha Vimukthi Perumina.
Now, one incident from those dark years has returned to haunt the United National Party (UNP), in power then, and its present leader, Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe. With the Government stepping up investigations into the incident in the weeks ahead of the general election, the spin team of the ruling People's Alliance (PA) has pounced on it and made it the Big Issue.
The allegation is that Mr. Wickremesinghe, then a Minister, was the political authority behind an illegal detention centre in a housing complex at an industrial township outside Colombo between 1988 and 1990.
Lanka takes its place in the annals of savagery-
The savagery of the conflict has created its own momentum of ever more gruesome atrocities- The JVP first, then the armed forces in retaliation, took to leaving dead bodies by the roadside and then igniting them with rubber tyres. In the Kandy district in central Sri Lanka, paramilitary forces recently cut up bodies and draped them from roadside trees - as though a burning body alone was no longer sufficient to intimidate opponents.
Paradise -John Colmey - INTHESETIMES
Vol 13 No.34 September 13-19 1989
Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe had links with or, had knowledge of, the groups that were responsible for Batalanda killings. Former Senior Superintendent of Police Douglas Peiris, who was recently arrested on landing at Colombo International Airport after absconding overseas, stated that the Mr. Wickremesinghe had provided housing, vehicles and money to one Dharmasiri and one 'Thadi' Priyantha who, he claimed, were operating the death squad. He said that he had been introduced to these two persons who had been identified as members of the Independent Students' Union (ISU) of the University of Colombo. One of the houses provided was in the Mahara area located behind the Mahara Resthouse. In his deposition Mr. Peiris specifically mentioned Hulftsdorp attorneys Kanchana Abeypala and Charitha Lankapura, Gampaha attorney Nissanka, and a Kelaniya Tyre Corporation employee named Perera as being the victims of a clandestine death squad which, he claimed, operated at that time with the knowledge of Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe. Douglas Peiris claims political links in 'terror' killings-Full story- (Daily News - 13/08/00)
"Counter Subversive Unit (CSU) was operated at the Batalanda camp. Douglas Peiris was the head of that unit" -Former IGP Earnest Perera.
Mr.Ranil Wickremesinghe, leader of the opposition was reported to have said in a political rally at Kekirawa that there was no such torture chamber at Batalanda. and that the government is using this story to sling mud at UNP leadership.
"We must not forget that the UNP was led during the past by great leaders in the calibre of people like D. S. Senanayake and Dudley Senanayake" - Wijeypala Mendis
The Batalanda Commission in its report in the mid-1990s said there was no way that Wickremesinghe wouldn"t have known of the torture chamber but did not accuse him of direct involvement. UNP officials said they believed that Peiris had been offered amnesty for his testimony against Wickremesinghe
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