The White Van Saga


The focus has shifted from Medamulana to Mirihana.

It was expected that Kurunegala, and the many other important towns in that district, would draw the larger interest with the parachute leap of Mahinda Rajapaksa from Hambantota to Kurunegala, in the search for an easier path to be prime minister.

But Mirihana, where he mostly lives in today, just as his brother Gotabaya, has become the focus of the UPFA campaign. Guess why?

It is the White Van Saga.

The White Van has been part of the political scene in this country for quite some time, from before the rise of the Rajapaksa family to seats of power and glory. White Vans have been a major threat to journalists and many others who have dared raise their voices against the powers that be, before and during the Rajapaksa Era.

How can a single white van be the stuff of political interest in the midst of a general election campaign, where all analysts agree there is a tough fight between the two main contenders for a majority of seats in parliament; and will most likely decide on who the next prime minister would be, especially when there are so many white vans on the roads every day?

White vans may not have votes; the deciding factor in an election. But, they have been the stuff of political power, and more importantly, political crime, for quite some time. They have thus earned a special place in the thinking of the people, about the dastardly acts of politicians in power.

This is not a case of the usual white van that is used by those in power to abduct a person or persons opposed to them, have them assaulted and dumped in a distant place, or even have them killed or ensure that they go missing. This seems to be a unique white van of reconciliation. It even traces the origins of its ownership to the LTTE and the final days of the fight to defeat those ruthless terrorists. It is a white van with a history – seized from the LTTE by the military and being in the custody of the security authorities since then.

So how come such a vehicle is spotted in suspicious circumstances at Mirihana – the new power center of UPFA politics? Well, it had the usual signs of a white van engaged in crooked business –it had false number plates, and unregistered numbers at that. Much more, it had tinted glasses and curtains within, too.

What is stranger is that it was carrying persons from the armed forces. Now, what is the need for armed forces, even when in civvies, to use vehicles with no registration and or with false garage number plates? This cannot be part of the battle against the LTTE – because the LTTE was defeated by the same armed forces, which took over the vehicle, possibly in 2009.

And what was it carrying? An exercise bicycle: Surely there is no need for such secrecy involving false number plates to carry an exercise bicycle, even for a friend of a top name in the army, as it now turns out to be...Quite a puzzle indeed!

And what else did it have? Yes, it did have a military issue revolver…hmmm…quite serious…not a bottle of water as some military person said when a search found an unauthorized revolver on his person, in a area closer to Medamulana not so long ago. But that is also resolved.

The military personnel were carrying the revolver for their boss, a very senior officer in the army, who had asked them to do so. Case on revolver closed? Or is it?

But the white van drama has now moved on to the political stage. The UPFA is screaming at the highest decibels of political noise that this white van was a threat to its Campaign Coordinator, former and defeated president Mahinda Rajapaksa, and to his brother Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who was Secretary of the Defence Ministry, when this van was taken over by the armed forces.

It certainly is a puzzle within puzzles. With all this come the allegations of the rise of the LTTE, and even so-called connections to LTTE cadres recently arrested in Tamil Nadu with cyanide capsules, and weapons.

The UPFA throws all of this at the government, and the forces of the UNP-led alliance, receiving the silent support of President Sirisena, as part of the plot to defeat Mahinda Rajapaksa’s entry to parliament or to the office of Prime Minister. There seems to be a note of desperation when clutching at such white vehicular straws for success. Of course, the other side promises to give more facts as time passes by. Wait and see is the name of this game.

Yet, there is one matter that has been forgotten; it is to congratulate the Police … the Mirhana Police in particular… for having seized this white van with false number plates, and exposing what appears to be a major political hoax that is part of huge political campaigning today.

This appears to be the first time that the Police in his country actually apprehended a white van with false number plates, carrying military personnel in civvies, and also carrying a revolver, with high military ownership, together with an exercise bicycle. Such stopping of white vans, under suspicious circumstances never took place under the regime that is seeking a return to the powers of parliament that it made a mockery of for so long. That is more the substance of this saga of political chicanery, than of political conspiracy.

Congrats again to the Mirihana Police for that chase and catch, establishing a new record in white van politics in the country.

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