Former president of Sri Lanka and Opposition leader Mahinda Rajapaksa on Sunday acknowledged India's efforts to help the island nation after multiple blasts on Easter Sunday claimed the lives of more than 250 people and injured over 500.
However, in an exclusive interview with News18, he vehemently denied the need for officers of India's National Security Guard (NSG) to be deployed in Sri Lanka, saying there was no need for foreign soldiers on Sri Lankan soil. NSG is a counter-terrorism unit under India's Ministry of Home Affairs.
"India has been helpful. But there is no need for NSG to come in. We don't need foreign soldiers. Our forces are capable enough. We just need to give them powers and freedom."
Rajapaksa also slammed the Sri Lankan government and held President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe responsible for the carnage on Easter Sunday.
#EXCLUSIVE -- Ex-Sri Lanka president, Mahinda Rajapaksa reacts to CNN-News18 newsbreak, says 'we thank India for all the help and support but Sri Lanka at this point in time does not need the NSG support to tackle terror'. | @PradeepPillai with more details #SriLankaTerrorAttacks pic.twitter.com/u50U66lctz
— News18 (@CNNnews18) April 28, 2019
Lambasting the duo for risking national security, he said: "They are busy playing politics at the cost of national security. They all knew about the growth of radicalism. They were worried about votes and vote bank and did not act."
He dismissed the perspective on authorities delaying earlier action against two little known groups, National Tawheed Jamaath (NTJ), which Sri Lanka believes was behind the attacks, and Jamathei Millathu Ibrahim. The Opposition leader said, "The existing laws are good enough to act against those with terror links."
Officials had earlier said that authorities could not act earlier to ban the two little-known groups because "the law required them to show firm evidence against them".
On Saturday, the Sri Lankan president outlawed two Islamist groups suspected to be behind the suicide bombings on churches and hotels on 21 April. The NTJ and Jamathei Millathu Ibrahim were banned under emergency powers, President Maithripala Sirisena said.
Earlier, Rajapaksa criticised the Sri Lankan government for wasting its time "troubling war heroes", especially after all that he had done to end terrorism in Sri Lanka during his time in office.
Nearly 10,000 soldiers have been deployed across the island nation to carry out searches and boost security since the bombings in three churches and four hotels, most of which were in the capital Colombo.
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Updated Date: Apr 28, 2019 15:45:31 IST