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Vigneswaran had thanked police for maintaining order – IGP
by Shamindra Ferdinando

Police investigating Friday’s assassination of Vanniasingham Vigneswaran, President of the Trincomalee District Tamil Peoples’ Forum (TDTPF) yesterday said that two security officers of the main Bank of Ceylon Branch, Trincomalee located along inner harbour road were witnesses to the killing.

Police Chief Chandra Fernando said that the security men were armed but had looked the other way as the assassin walked out of the bank premises. Speaking to The Island, after visiting the scene of the crime, Fernando said that a three wheeler driver who brought an old lady to the bank had seen the killer fleeing the scene on a motor cycle.

The two Tamil security men had run inside the bank and told the manager of the incident. "They could have easily hit the assassin," the police chief said.

The police chief, accompanied by DIG CID Asoka Wijetilleke, visited the bank as Defence Secretary Colonel (Retd) Gotabaya Rajapakse directed police headquarters to crack the case.

The IGP disputed pro-LTTE TamilNet claim that Vigneswaran was shot when he was about to enter the bank. Quoting the manager and the security guards, he said the victim had entered the bank at 9.15 am, signed in and requested Rs. 300,000 from the manager. Vigneswaran wanted to take the money to their kachcheri branch as he expected many withdrawals in view of the forthcoming festive season. In his statement to police, the manager said that Vigneswaran walked out of his office as the money was being counted. The IGP said that the slain bank employee had claimed that he wanted to have a cup of tea. Fielding questions, the IGP said that Vigneswaran, instead of having a cup of tea at the canteen at the same building he stepped out of the main entrance and was shot at point blank range.

"Did he receive a call? Did anyone ask him to come out?" the IGP queried, adding that they were in the process of drawing a picture of the assassin with the help of the security guards and the three wheeler driver.

The police chief said that they were also aware of the fact that the LTTE proxy the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) was about to announce the appointment of Vigneswaran as the national list Parliamentarian to fill the position held by Joseph Pararajasingham MP who was slain in Batticaloa on Christmas eve.

Although Vigneswaran led a series of protests in Trincomalee and its suburbs on behalf of the LTTE, a senior Defence Ministry official described him as a reasonable man.

According to the IGP Vigneswaran, in a letter dated March 17, addressed to him, thanked the Trincomalee police for maintaining peace amidst chaos during recent troubles. The LTTE would have been furious if they knew of the confidential letter, the police chief said, adding that he was pleasantly surprised to receive the letter. Although the bank employee had been critical of a section of the security forces he had praised the police for excellent work in the volatile district. He had particularly commended DIG Rohan Abeywardene and SSP Ambanwela.

Vigneswaran’s funeral will take place on April 11 Tuesday afternoon at Anpuvallipuram cemetery.

LTTE Velupillai Prabhakaran bestowed the title Maamanithar (Great Human being) on Vigneswaran. "Steadfast and honest, he opposed the genocidal war by the successive Sinhala governments which destroyed thousands of Tamil lives and their property, plundered Tamils possessions and resources, and was intent on destroying Tamil National symbols. Vigeswaran fought to free Tamils from this menace," Prabhakaran said in a statement conferring the award, as reported by TamilNet.

 

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