The Welikada prison riot in 2012 killed around 20 inmates leaving more than 15 injured, yet no concrete action has been taken yet, despite a lapse of six years. The relevant authorities are yet to take action against the perpetrators who were involved in the mass killing.
Around 27 inmates at the Welikada prison were reported to have been killed by the Special Task Force (STF) following what was reported as a search operation leading to a riot.
Based on testimony of eyewitnesses, the STF had entered the premises of prison with firearms and had insisted that this was an order from a higher official attached to the Defence Ministry.
Eye witnesses had heard screams of those being assaulted and later shot to death.
On November 9, 2012, the Special Task Forces (STF) had forcefully entered the prison, shut down the power supply and killed those inmates. The atrocious task was carried out forgetting that even the prisoners are human beings.
Around 10 PM, some of the prisoners were engaged in a protest insisting the authorities to meet some of their demands. This cannot be considered as a reason that instigated the riot. In the meantime, Special Task Force (STF) of the Police had entered the prison to conduct a search operation. It was reported on the following day that the riot occurred as the prisoners attacked the Police officers who were returning after conducting the search operation. However, the riot took place for few hours. The prisoners started shouting and screaming as they were not aware of what was happening inside the prison. Some prisoners even tried to break the walls and get out of the prison while some others using phones illegally, called their relatives and informed them about the incident.
One of the prisoners who was sentenced to death and submitted a petition had informed that STF was engaged in targeted killing of prisoners. The riot came to an end only after the STF officials left the prison premises.
The committee that was appointed to investigate over the incident revealed that it was a very well planned massacre targeted on prisoners. It was reported that the prison turned into an unsafe place for the prisoners only after the STF of the Police entered the premises. The report further said that C. W. Kodipelli Indika who was the Commissioner General of the Prisons, when the riot occurred and Former Senior DIG Anura Senanayake had failed to do their duties properly and the riot occurred as a result of their carelessness.
Even though the reason for the riot was not clearly stated by the committee appointed, it emphasized that the STF of the Police carried it out following an order given by a former senior official in the Ministry of Defense. The doubt over whether the STF shot the prisoners or the prisoners shot each other has been resolved through the report. Among the prisoners who were shot, some were sentenced to death penalty. The list includes KaluThushara, Thotalaga Kapila, Dolphin Chaminda, Kiribathgoda Susantha, Konda Amila, Maharagama Chaminda and 20 more underworld criminals who were killed. Another 14 were injured. When the light came on after the forces left, the dead bodies of prisoners were seen all over. There were firearms near their dead bodies to show that they died after they shot each other. But, only the dead would know who killed them.
The eye witnesses said that they heard some screaming out the names of the underworld criminals who were killed. They further said that after calling out names and killing one group, the murderers had gone to every other prison, called out names and shot them dead.
It was revealed that one of the officials attached to the STF had provided the details of the prisoners who were shot to a former senior official in the Ministry of Defence. It was further revealed that one of the main motives of the riot was to murder the criminal who was imprisoned for stealing the sword from the National Museum.
It was also reported that the prisoners attacked the Police when they returned after conducting a special operation. But there was no evidence to prove that the prisoners had firm arms or weapons in possession.
A Police investigation was launched immediately and it was carried out under the former Senior DIG Anura Senanayake. Even though nearly 20 prisoners were murdered, no comprehensive investigation was conducted and the Police did not provide adequate evidence to find the individuals who were involved in the riots.
During the same period, many other mysterious murders also happened and some people who were murdered mysteriously are Wasim Thajudeen and Lasantha Wickramathunga. The investigations pertaining to all these murders were also conducted by Anura Senanayake.
After the present government came into power, families of those killed witnesses, concerned lawyers and activists raised their voices seeking justice. Under the present government, an investigation has been launched on Senanayake. The investigation started with his statement being taken down. The Narahenpita Police OIC in his statement alleged to have revealed details of the murder of Wasim Thajudeen and this resulted in the arrest of Anura Senanayake. Sometimes, the Police change the directions of a case adhering to an order given by a higher official. They would be in trouble if they fail to do so.
Criminal Investigation Department has completed their investigation on the prison attack. It was alleged that the riot took place with the aim of killing the underground criminals. Even though the CID is aware of the people who were involved in the mass killing, the prosecution is being delayed due to difficulties in collecting evidence.