In the wake of the deadly Easter Sunday bombings which killed over 250 people, Sri Lanka's national intelligence chief Sisira Mendis has stepped down from his position. Before putting down his papers, Mendis testified in front of the Parliament Select Committee (PSC) on May 29 where he reportedly claimed that Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena knew about warnings on possible terror attacks but failed to hold regular security review meetings.
If reports were to be believed then Mendis was sacked by Sirisena following the comments he made to the committee. However, Secretary of Defence General Shantha Kottegoda later clarified that Mendis resigned.
Sirisena was reportedly upset over Mendis being grilled by the committee and the session being open to press. Sirisena's rival Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is leading the PSC, which is also investigating possible lapses that allowed the Islamic State terrorists to target hotels and churches.
Earlier, Sirisena had said that he met with the national police chief and his top brass 13 days before the dastardly attacks but no officer raised warnings passed on by India and based on information from a detained jihadist, reports a news agency.
On Friday (June 7) evening, Sirisena summoned an emergency cabinet meeting and said that police, military, intelligence officials and ministers will not testify before the PSC. "Everybody who testified before the select committee are the officers whom I removed. We have sacked Sisira Mendis also," Sirisena said.
Modi to visit Sri Lanka today
The crisis in Sri Lanka erupted ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the country on Sunday (June 9). PM Modi's visit comes close on the heels of serial bombings in the country which killed 250 and wounded another 500.
PM Modi will hold talks with Sirisena who earlier invited him to visit the island nation. During Modi's brief stopover in Colombo, the PM is likely to take up the issue of terrorism with Sri Lankan President.
This will be PM Modi's third visit to Sri Lanka. Earlier, the PM visited the country in 2015 and 2017. The Sri Lankan High Commissioner to India Austin Fernando said, "PM Narendra Modi's visit to Sri Lanka will send a message that it is a safe place to travel to. We would like the Indian government to lift the travel advisory for Sri Lanka."
Multiple bombs ripped through the island nation on April 21, when the Christian community was celebrating Easter Sunday. The explosions that rattled churches and high-end hotels were carried out by a local Jihadi group and ISIS affiliate, National Thowheeth Jama'ath.
The attacks came despite warnings issued by the Indian intelligence agencies. However, Sirisena and Wickremesinghe have both said that they were not informed about it before the April 21 attacks.