The Murder of Joseph Pararajasingham 
 

ArulMozhi.T.N.K 12/10/2015

Yesterday Former Eastern Province Chief Minister Sivanesanthurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillayan who arrived at the CID along with his lawyer to give a statement was arrested. According to media reports from Sri Lanka, this arrest is linked to the the murder of former TNA, Member of Parliament Joseph Pararajasingham. 
 
Mr. Joseph Pararajasingham was a senior Tamil politician and the Member of Parliament (MP) of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) for Batticaloa district. 
 
Before entering the Parliament Joseph Pararajasingham also wrote as a part-time journalist at the Tamil daily "Thinapathi,"  under the pen name Sugunam Joseph.  He also served as an Executive Member of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and the SAARC Parliamentary Association. His death was a great loss, to not just the Tamil community, but to all Sri Lankans. 
 
Even though it is being reported that the arrest of Pillayan is a result of the investigations being conducted on the Joseph Pararajasingham murder, there is more to this story than meets the eye. 
 
The United Nations report details the murder as follows;
 
 
Paragraph 243;  On 24 December 2005, Joseph Pararajasingham, an MP for the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) was shot dead while attending midnight mass at St Mary's Church, Batticaloa. Eight other persons, including his wife, were injured in the attack. The church was located between military checkpoints, in a high-security area with a large presence of security forces. Pararajasingham was assigned police bodyguards by the Ministry of Defence, who were present with him at the time when he was killed but allegedly did not attempt to prevent the shooting or apprehend the killers. Just days before the attack, his usual bodyguards had been replaced. The victim was shot with nine bullets in the back and in the chest in front of a church full of worshippers and the Bishop from whom he had just received communion. Witnesses saw two perpetrators in civilian clothing with pistols. They shot and killed the victim while members of the congregation fell to the floor. They fired shot up into the roof to make way for their escape out into the yard where they proceeded to climb over a wall surrounding the church. There were numerous security guards, police officers and two police constables present during the incident."
 
Paragraph 244;  The assailants exited the church unchallenged,despite the fact that it was under police guard, and allegedly departed in a white van in the direction of a nearby army camp. Joseph Pararajasingham had declined to support Karuna after his split from the LTTE and had previously been threatened by members of the Karuna group. Family members of the victim suffered further threats after the attack and fled the country.
 
Paragraph 245;  OISL considers that, based on the information obtained, there are reasonable grounds to believe that the Karuna Group killed Joseph Pararajasingham, and that it was aided and abetted by security and army personnel. Initial police investigations identified and detained two suspects from the armed forces. However, the suspects were released due to the lack of testimony from witnesses, despite the many eye-witnesses to the killing. The killing was one of the incidents which were to be investigated by the Udalagama Commission. The Commission stated in its report that Pararajasingham’s murder was not investigated by the Commission due to ‘non availability of witnesses and time constraints.’
 
Paragraph 247;  In July 2013, the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) conducted a mission to Sri Lanka to inquire about several cases of Sri Lankan politicians killed, including Joseph Pararajasingham; during their visit several authorities commented that there was no evidence to indicate that the Karuna Group was involved in the killing and thus no such line of investigation was being pursued. The IPU concluded in its mission report that it is “highly improbable that the perpetrators in Mr. Pararajasingham’s case could have escaped without the complicity of the security forces.”
 
However on October 9th 2015 according to this news story that appeared on Sunday Times, "The Inter Parliamentary Union has asked Sri Lanka to forward a report contain the progress made into investigations into the killings of four members of parliament (MP)s at the IPU 133rdAssembly scheduled to be held from October 15 to 21 in Geneva, Switzerland. A report obtained from the CID on the progress made into the killings of MPs Nadaraja Raviraja, Joseph Pararajasingham, T. Maheshwaran, and D.M. Dassanayake will be taken to the IPU Assembly by the Sri Lankan delegation attending it, , Deputy Speaker Thilanga Sumathipala told a press conference held at the Parliamentary Complex on the 8th of October". On the same day TNA leader Sampanthan has also noted that "the name of the suspect involved in the murder of late TNA MP Joseph Pararajasingham was living overseas and that he manged to flee Sri Lanka as the former Government failed to arrest him" here. 
 
Would the arrest of Pillayan also lead to the arrest of Karuna given the fact that all fingers points towards him?
 
Moreover a news story published last month on the Ceylon Today, states that "a former paramilitary leader who later took to politics has come under the Criminal Investigation Department (CID)investigation and surveillance after details of this huge weapons transfer". We dont know if this story is any way linked to the Karuna-Pillayan faction, but it looks like the Paramilitary forces that has had a free hand in the past are being dealt with caution by the new regime.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The author can be reached at leftoutvoices@gmail.com.