Politics

Was a deadly bomb in a typewriter bag?
Ashraff's death — accident or assassination?

by Manoj Abeydeera
Political assassination has become an established style an easy and quick method to get rid of rivals and opponents.

To begin with, US President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed while he was on a image promoting tour in Texas, in the year 1960. He died lying on the lap of First Lady Jacqueline, in his open car.

The Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was killed by a Tiger human bomb when he was addressing a public meeting, in 1990. There are also several other prominent figures who became targets of political criminals and their mercenaries.

If you take Sri Lanka the number of victims, is apparently larger and the Tamil communalist LTTE is responsible for these assassinations.

They ruthlessly killed prominent politicians like President Ranasinghe Premadasa, Lalith Athulathmudali, Gamini Dissanayake and so on. They also made a failed attempt to assassinate President Chandrika Kumaratunga.

The LTTE recently published a list containing the names of the following 24 persons killed by them, in their web-site:

 

Ex-Mayor of Jaffna, Alfred Durayappah on 27/7/75, Sarojini Yogeswaram on 19/5/98, G. Sivapalan on 11/9/98, A. Thiyagarajah on 24/4/81, V. Dharmalingam on 2/9/85, K. Alagasundaram 2. 9. 85, A. Amirthalingam on 13/7/83 (MPs), Sam Thambimuththu and Mrs. Thambimuththu on 7/5/90, V. Yogasangari on 10/6/90, A. Thangathurai on 2/5/97, S. Shanmuganathan on 15/7/98, Kanagasabai Rajathurai on 6/10/98, Neelan Thiruchelvan on 29/9/99, Atputharaja Nadaraja on 2/11/99, Kanapathipillai Navaratnaraja on 7/6/2000, President R. Premadasa on 1/5/93, Ministers, Ranjan Wijeratne in 1992, Lalith Athulathmudali on 23/4/94, Gamini Dissanayake on 7/9/94, C. V. Goonaratne on 7/6/2000 and Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1990.

Eventhough the LTTE admits the assassination of the above 24 persons this article discloses other assassinations carried out by them but not admitted, so far.

The then Minister of Ports Development Reconstruction and Rehabilitation, M. H. M. Ashraff died on 17th September 2000 in an air crash.

Fifteen passengers including the minister lost their lives in the helicopter disaster which occurred over Urakanda in Aranayaka. Various rumours spread by locals and even some foreign intelligence services attributed the disaster due to the misty and cloudy conditions and mechanical defects etc. There were talks of investigations but nothing happened.

The details surrounding the mystery have, now come to light.

Ashraff, who founded the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress was accused of being racial, confining his political activities for the benefit of Muslims. To overcome this allegation he formed a new alliance called the National United Allinace, hoping to contest Muslim majority seats under the Muslim Congress symbol and the Muslim minority seats under the new alliance.

In Ampara District they contested joining with the United Front. They got an allocation of four seats three Muslims and one Tamil candidate had to be nominated.

Finding a suitable Tamil to contest was difficult. However, Basir Segudarun (Deputy Minister of Housing in the present govt.) introduced one Kadirgamar Thamby, to Ashraff as a suitable Tamil candidate.

Basir was originally a soldier in the EROS. When EROS gave up armed activities and entered the democratic process in 1987, Basir turned to active politics and became an MP on the EROS ticket in 1989 elections.

When the EROS split he joined the Muslim Congress. These were allegations that Basir was having links with the LTTE.

Kadirgamar Thamby did not join the elections but continued to maintain his relations with Ashraff.

September 2000 was a busy month for politicians with elections in the offing. Ashraff was to go to Ampara on September 16 for election propaganda, but due to other commitments he put off the trip to the following day.

Kadirgamar Thamby who was working in the District office of the Congress at this time obtained the minister’s permission to take a type-writer to be used in the Branch office and keep it with him on the night at the Minister’s residence.

The minister and his companions started their journey with Kadirgamar Thamby carrying the type-writer in a bag.

As a rule Security personnel examine the bags and baggages of the group before embarkation. Since the minister was in a hurry, he didn’t want any inspection but to get in at once. The security officers insisted in examining the parcels, but the minister did not allow them to perform their duty and shouted at them for delaying him. security officers were helpless as the batch entered without any check.

Kadirgamar Thamby too entered the helicopter carrying the type-writer bag.

The type-writer bomb exploded in the air over Urakanda and killed everybody with the minister.

Time passed and there were divisions in the Muslim Congress. Ashraff’s party supporters were more concerned about strengthening their power and did not take trouble to find out the causes precipitating Ashraff’s death.

17th September 2001 was the first anniversary of minister Ashraff’s death. The LTTE presented a posthumous award to one of their Heroes at their Thirukkovil office and garlanded his photograph. That hero was none other person but Kadirgamar Thamby. He was felicitated for his suicide operation on Ashraff and for services rendered to the LTTE. Apart from this gratitudeness, the LTTE went further in this regard.

During the early period after the United Party Alliance came to power, Minister Arumugam Thondaman met some of the area leaders of the LTTE at Kokkadikovil, Batticaloa and had discussions with Karikalan and Karuna. Karikalan made a request from Thondaman. He wanted the minister to give a job to Kadirgamar’s elder son either to carryout his orders as a favour, Minister Thondaman appointed Kadirgamar Thamby’s son as a senior book-keeper at the District office of the National Housing Development Authority.

In the meantime the Memorandum of Understanding was entered into. Minister Milinda Moragoda then asked the chairman, Port Authority Mr. Parakrama Dissanayake to give employment to the other son of Kadirgamar Thamby, at the Trinco Port complex. He was given a job in the Port and was given a transfer to Oluwil Port site. He now works in the Thirukkovil LTTE office and goes to Oluwil Port site only to draw his monthly salary.

It is ironical, indeed to provide employment to the son of the assassin of the former Port Minister by the present Port Minister Hakeem.

Since Ashraff was a representative of the Eastern Muslim people, he was an obstacle to the LTTE in achieving monopoly in the East.

Twelve days after Ashraff’s assassination they attempted to kill Muslim Congress MP Hisbulla. They also made a second futile attempt.

The LTTE did not want a Muslim representative for the Eastern Province. They have gradually achieved their target. The Muslim leadership in the East is eroding now. One of the leaders of the Muslim Congress, at present Minister Hakeem comes from the Kandy area. There are no Muslim leader at present in the East to challenge the LTTE.

With the full story of the assassination of Ashraff revealed people are waiting to see what steps the Minister of Port and Shipping will take on this issue.

Tigers have been very careful not to reveal details relating to this tactical murder because it might lead to rouse Muslim anger. This was not the first Anti-Muslim attack carried by the LTTE. Hundreds of Muslim devotees who were offering prayers in a mosque were murdered by the LTTE. Dozens of innocent Muslim villagers were also killed. It is strange, Minister Hakeem forgetting all this, now conducts discussions with the LTTE. Time has come for Minister Hakeem to arrive at a decision. What is he negotiating with the murderers who killed his leader and his people?

If Minister Hakeem continues with the negotiation process it is tantamount to covering up the mischief of the murderous terrorists who are adamant to achieve Eelam. Then the Muslims may be prompted to decide on his future politics.

In Ampara District they contested joining with the United Front. They got an allocation of four seats three Muslims and one Tamil candidate had to be nominated.

Finding a suitable Tamil to contest was difficult. However, Basheer Segudawood (Deputy Minister of Housing in the present govt.) introduced one Kadirgamar Thamby, to Ashraff as a suitable Tamil candidate.

Basheer was originally a soldier in EROS. When EROS gave up armed activities and entered the democratic process in 1987, he turned to active politics and became an MP on the EROS ticket in 1989 elections.

When the EROS split he joined the Muslim Congress. There were allegations that he was having links with the LTTE.

Kadirgamar Thamby did not contest the elections but continued to maintain his relations with Ashraff.

September 2000 was a busy month for politicians with elections in the offing. Ashraff was to go to Ampara on September 16 for election propaganda, but due to other commitments he put off the trip for the following day.

Kadirgamar Thamby who was working in the District office of the Congress at this time obtained the minister’s permission to take a type-writer to be used in the Branch office and keep it with him that night at the minister’s residence.

The minister and his companions started their journey with Kadirgamar Thamby carrying the type-writer in a bag.

As a rule Security personnel examine the bags and baggages of the group before embarkation. Since the minister was in a hurry, he didn’t want any inspection but to board the aircraft at once. The security officers insisted in examining the parcels, but the minister did not allow them to perform their duty and shouted at them for delaying him. security officers were helpless as the batch entered without any check.

Kadirgamar Thamby too entered the helicopter carrying the type-writer bag.

The type-writer bomb exploded in the air over Urakanda and killed all on board including the minister.

Time passed and there were divisions in the Muslim Congress. Ashraff’s party supporters were more concerned about strengthening their power and did not take the trouble to find out the causes precipitating Ashraff’s death.

17th September 2001 was the first anniversary of minister Ashraff’s death. The LTTE presented a posthumous award to one of their heroes at their Thirukkovil office and garlanded his photograph. That hero was none other than Kadirgamar Thamby. He was felicitated for his suicide operation on Ashraff and for services rendered to the LTTE.

During the early period after the United National Front came to power, Minister Arumugam Thondaman met some of the area leaders of the LTTE at Kokkadikovil, Batticaloa and had discussions with Karikalan and Karuna. Karikalan made a request from Thondaman. He wanted the minister to give a job to Kadirgamar’s elder son as a favour, Minister Thondaman appointed Kadirgamar Thamby’s son as a senior book-keeper at the District office of the National Housing Development Authority.

In the meantime the Memorandum of Understanding was entered into. Minister Milinda Moragoda then asked the Chairman, Port Authority Mr. Parakrama Dissanayake to give employment to the other son of Kadirgamar Thamby, at the Trinco Port complex. He was given a job in the Port and was given a transfer to Oluwil Port site. He now works in the Thirukkovil LTTE office and goes to Oluvil only to draw his monthly salary.

Since Ashraff was a representative of the Eastern Muslim people, he was an obstacle to the LTTE in achieving monopoly in the East.

Twelve days after Ashraff’s assassination they attempted to kill Muslim Congress MP Hisbulla. They also made a second futile attempt.

The LTTE did not want a Muslim representative from the Eastern Province. They have gradually achieved their target. The Muslim leadership in the East is eroding now. Muslim Congress, leader Minister Hakeem comes from the Kandy area. There are no Muslim leaders at present in the East to challenge the LTTE.

With the full story of the assassination of Ashraff revealed people are waiting to see what steps the Minister of Port and Shipping will take on this issue.

Tigers have been very careful not to reveal details relating to this tactical murder because it might rouse Muslim anger. This was not the first anti-Muslim attack carried out by the LTTE. Hundreds of Muslim devotees who were offering prayers in a mosque were murdered by the LTTE. Dozens of innocent Muslim villagers were also killed.


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