Home News The Narrative of Hejaaz Hisbullah : Victimhood of Gota’s Easter mastermind drama

The Narrative of Hejaaz Hisbullah : Victimhood of Gota’s Easter mastermind drama

The Narrative of Hejaaz Hisbullah : Victimhood of Gota’s Easter mastermind drama
(Tharindu Jayawardhana)
It has been 04 years since April 14th, when lawyer Mr. Hejaaz Hisbullah was illegally arrested as the mastermind of the Easter Sunday attack in Sri Lanka. This article is written to reveal the story behind the arrest of Hejaaz.
ඡායාරූපය අන්තර්ජාලයෙනි
It is the year 2020. Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who became the President of Sri Lanka, had started hunting down his political opponents. As a result of disregarding the advice of the health authorities, COVID-19 was spreading throughout Sri Lanka. The Sinhala Tamil New Year celebrations in April began with a comical press release by the then police spokesperson. Although the press release was comical, its content was an attempt by the government to seriously violate human rights. It informed not to criticize the minor shortcomings of the government officials.
A few days after the press release by the police spokesperson, a writer named Ramzi Razik was arrested. Later, on the 14th of April another news was reported even before the heat on Ramzi Raziq’s arrest dies down. This particular piece of news, while causing some shock and curiosity among the legal community, also brought happiness to some who were looking for justice for the Easter attack. It is the news about the arrest of lawyer Hejaaz Hisbullah. On April 14, lawyer Hejaaz received a phone call and who stated that he was from the Ministry of Health, asked the lawyer whether he had withdrawn money from an ATM the previous day. He informed the lawyer to not to leave his home as the ATM machine he used the previous day was also used by someone infected with COVID-19.
After that, a group of people came to his house, claiming to be from the Criminal Investigation Department, checked the office in his house and took the lawyer along with some files into custody. On April 15th and 16th, the lawyers went to the Criminal Investigation Department to meet Hejaaz Hisbullah, but they were only able to talk to Hejaaz in front of two police officers. It was also stipulated to talk only in the Sinhala language. After April 16, the lawyers did not get an opportunity to meet him.
Blatant falsehoods by police spokesman
On the 19th of April, the then Police Media Spokesperson, Superintendent of Police Jaliya Senaratne held a press conference. He stated that  the lawyer was arrested after a lot of evidence which came to light due to his connection with a bomber of the Easter attack. Jaliya Senaratne stated that it is more of a relationship between a lawyer and a client, and that the arrest was made after gathering information from phone analysis, etc.

 “This arrest has been made after conducting a number of investigations with sufficient information regarding this lawyer, after recording a number of witnesses statement and after conducting a number of phone analyses and gathering a lot of information about the places he has gone through the phone analysis. At the same time, this arrest has been made with sufficient facts for sufficient evidence. The Criminal Investigation Department will never arrest any person based on a mere complaint or a phone call…. Even if he is a lawyer or not, there is a reasonable suspicion that he has acted illegally. The arrest has been done according to that. This is not an arrest made based on the relationship between a lawyer and a client. We have uncovered enough facts to make an arrest.”
Jaliya Senaratne stated that some facts have been uncovered to say that he had contact with other suspects and acted illegally. The Police Media Spokesman commented that anyone listening would feel that Hejaaz was a mastermind who had ties to the terrorists who carried out the Easter Sunday attack. It was later revealed that evidence against Hejaaz had been recorded a few days after his arrest. The then Superintendent of Police who lied is now a Deputy Inspector General of Police. A poet named Ahnaf Jaseem was arrested and pressured to testify against Hejaaz Hisbullah as there was not enough evidence against him.
22 Months in the custody Without Evidence
Not only did they held him without charges, but the lawyers were also deprived of the opportunity to discuss matters with him personally. In the end, the lawyers had to seek a order from Court of Appeal and as a result of that court case, the lawyers were allowed to consult with Hejaaz Hisbullah on December 16, 2020. The Criminal Investigation Department also avoided reporting the investigation progress regarding him to the court.
Mr. Hisbullah, who had been detained in the Criminal Investigation Department for almost 10 months in connection with the bomb that exploded in the Cinnamon Grand Hotel, was brought before the court on February 17, 2021. Deputy Solicitor General Dileepa Peiris, Deputy Solicitor General Sudarshana de Silva, Senior State counsel Lakmini Giriagama, Director of Criminal Investigation Department Senior Superintendent of Police Nishantha de Soysa, Assistant Superintendent of Police Upul Senavaritna, Chief Inspector of Police Karunathilaka and sub inspector of Police Kumarasiri appeared for the prosecution. A group of layers including Hafeel Fariz and Niran Ankital appeared on behalf of Mr. Hejaaz Hisbullah. Mr. Hejaaz Hisbullah, who has been in remand for almost a year since then, was granted bail in February 2022 on the orders of the Court of Appeal.

Although he was arrested and detained in connection with the Cinnamon Grand Hotel bombing, the Attorney General filed an indictment against him in the Puttalam High Court saying that he had delivered an extremist speech to a group of students of Al Suharya Madrasa School, Madurankuli. In addition to local children, children from several poor families in Colombo were also educated in that school. An organization named Save the Pearl directed the children to that school and provided them with the necessary facilities. Hejaaz Hisbullah had also engaged as an activist of the Save the Pearl organization for some time. In addition to Hisbullah, many Muslim educated intellectuals had been members of the said organisation.
In the absence of charges against Hejaaz, the police spun a different story. It is said that Hejaaz gave extremist lectures to the students of the school in Madurankuli. However, the school students who gave evidence in the case stated that they did not know that story. One of the witnesses said that he stated certain facts because of the influence by CID. No evidence has been produced against him so far.
Who wrote the script?
No information was reported about the reason why there was an attempt to make lawyer Hejaaz Hesbullah the mastermind of the Easter attack and there was only a question about whether the police could weave such a story alone.
According to information obtained from the Parliament of Sri Lanka by Center for Society and Religion under the right to information act, it was revealed that one person had stated the same story while testifying before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry that investigated the Easter attack. That is Mr.Tuan Suresh Salley, former Director of Army Intelligence and currently Director of State Intelligence Service. He gave evidence before the Easter Commission on June 25, 2020.
He testified about Save the Pearl and lawyer Hisbullah and said that lawyer is a man with seven faces. Suresh Salley has stated that he (the lawyer) appear before the society in various forms such as a lawyer, human rights activist, educator, businessman, etc. Salleh also said that there were three bombers in the Save the Pearl organization, and that the madrasa school in Madurankuli was built on land given by a bomber. It has now been revealed that many of the details of the testimony, including these facts, which he has stated before the commission on oath, are false.
‘Save the Pearl is another organization that came into being like JMI. But at that time, we had no knowledge about this organization. There was a reason for that. What is Save the Pearl? It is an organization that came into being as a welfare organization very carefully. But a lot of people from Save the Pearl, i.e., Ibrahim’s two sons, Jameel and Jameel’s brother, all four of them are born from Save the Pearl…. Ijaz Hisbullah is the president of this. Land is donated through this organization to build an orphanage. They came to build that orphanage and built it as a Muslim school in Puttalam. Then the land is donated by the same person who blasted in Shrangrila hotel. At the same time, when this school is built, the children in this school was taken entirely from a group of children who do not have a mother or a father, or both parents, or who cannot be taught at all. Then Zaharan and others came there to deliver lectures. Ibrahim also comes. A lawyer called Ijas also comes. Even in this institution, the books have been made in such a way that the children’s minds are perverted in a very organized way. We found 35 books, we gave them directly to the government, we gave them to be translated and now it has been submitted to the court…. I see that we are working only with the people who came and connected with Zaharan about explosive activities. But we do not pay much attention to where these Zaharans came from. Three suicide cards in Zaharan’s group born from Save the Pearl…Then the person who studied law in has been in constant contact with these three suicide carders from 2015 until the end. About fifty times with the three of them. At the same time, this person is the president of Save the Pearl, which the three of they were members of. Then the attack of Mawanella Buddha statue and then Zaharan gave 17 lakhs to another group, and through that group, this lawyer takes that money through another lawyer into the account and uses that money if there is a case in the Supreme Court….. After doing all this through phone numbers, emails, and physical contact, he went to Egypt. He came back to Sri Lanka after that.. Meanwhile, the younger brother of tha man named Jameel is still in custody in the CID. He makes all the claims about how this relationship happened. At the same time, 10 students have already declared how these guys came and gave lectures, etc.
So really, we’re only seeing a certain side of it between Arriving Zaharan and Suicide Cards. But it is this ideology that has not been able to be treated to a large extent in the world. The people who spread this ideology are dangerous people because those guys come and create groups like this with these medium and long-term plans, the facilities that those guys need. But I see that this person has 7 faces. On the one hand, he is a very famous lawyer. On the other hand, a very famous educator. He has his own education institute. That is what his father does. He is a member of it. At the same time, he advocates religious affairs. And He is a human rights activist engaging with civil organization activities. Besides, a businessman. There is a huge number of faces…’  Suresh Salley has stated in his affidavit.
Many of the contents of this testimony are factually incorrect and misleading. It was not Hisbullah or Save the Pearl that created the controversial madrassa school. It is not only students who are referred through the Save the Pearl organization who study there. It is not a bomber who has given that land. So far, no evidence of extremist activity has been revealed in that school. No related books have been submitted to the court. It is also a blatant lie that all three bombers were born by Save the Pearl. Hejaaz was not involved in the Mawanella Buddha incident.
Before Hejaaz joined Save the Pearl, he engaged in an organization called Rapid Response Team (RRT), which included a well-known lawyer who was a close friend of Salleh.
The real reason behind the arrest was the Dargah incident?
 At the time of the incident in Aluthgama Dargah town in 2014, in a meeting held in the area, Rapid Response Team member Hejaaz Hisbullah has stated that the security forces are responsible for the incident. After that statement, there was an exchange of words between the then Director of Army Intelligence Tuan Suresh Salley and Hejaaz. As a result, they have taken steps to remove the lawyer from the place.
After that, Jameel’s brother Hakeem, who was the Bomber of Tropical Inn in Dehiwala, informed Hejaaz about the ideolgical changes in Jameel and asked Hejaaz to talk to him. Hejaaz talked with him and told Hakeem what to do. Accordingly, Jameel received a summons from the Terrorist Investigation Division. All they did was record a statement from Jameel and release him. Hejaaz knew the details, including that members of the security forces had come to meet Jameel. They publicly declared that after the Easter Sunday attack. Hejaaz questioned why the security forces, who knew about Jameel, did not stop the attack.

Also, Mr. Hezbollah has appeared before supreme court on behalf of Prefacer Rathnajeewan Hoole, who was a member of Election commission, against the illegal dissolution of Parliament by President Maithripala Sirisena in 2018, which is considered to be a crucial incident in the series of events before the Easter Sunday attack. His submission was a remarkable incident and was the subject of a lot of discussion in the legal field at that time. After that, Hejaaz contributed to the legal proceedings regarding the illegal arrests after the Easter attack. Lawyer Hisbullah was also a keynote speaker at the conference held by the Young Journalists Association and Young Lawyers Association at the Maradana CSR about the behavior of the media after the Easter Sunday attack.
After Gotabaya Rajapaksa came to power in November 2019 presidential election, they may have considered Hejaaz as a threat to them. This is probably why the government arrested him without any evidence and imprisoned him for almost two years. Now four years have passed since that incident. The people who organized the illegal arrest and imprisonment of Hejaaz are still at large. As with the Easter attack, Hejaaz Hisbullah has yet to receive justice. But He continues to fulfill his responsibilities as usual by speaking for the justice of others.


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