There is confusion written all over the faces of the people that matter since the broadcast of the Channel 4 expose on the Easter Sunday carnage.

Some people rushed to defend the so-called Rajapaksa legacy, while others tried to find a scapegoat to apportion the blame.

The blame game is on, with the Catholic church rejecting the latest probes suggested by the government. The Catholic church demands an independent and transparent investigation with international experts to monitor proceedings. They also called upon all senior intelligence officials whose names have been cropped up for their alleged involvement to step down temporarily until the investigations are over. The stance of the Catholic church is now known to the world, and they have dismissed the appointment of a committee as a delaying tactic and a waste of money and time. The many committees and commissions of inquiries that have been set up by successive governments have come to naught as their recommendations have either not been implemented or reversed and it is not just the Catholic church, but the people too have lost faith in their ability to deliver the truth.

Many Rajapaksa cohorts have taken it upon themselves to defend them. But what is clear is that the more one tries to shield them, the more vulnerable they become to the alleged accusations made by the Chanel 4 dossier on the Rajapaksas and their allies. When people are poised to defend themselves, they often become more suspicious and guilty than if they lucidly allowed the facts to speak for themselves. Additionally, when people get too defensive, they often make statements that contradict or undermine evidence.

Namal Rajapaksa was trying to take the high moral ground to convince the people that the Rajapaksas were in the right, and that Channel 4’s animosity towards the Rajapaksa family go back a long way to the country’s war with the LTTE and it’s crushing of the group. The Jathika Jana Balawegaya (JJB) leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake queried whether they (Rajapaksa) had dragged on a land dispute with Channel 4 to harbour grudges with the Rajapaksa clan.

However, Namal Rajapaksa was rather specious in his approach to the issue and couldn’t grasp the crux of the matter with competence. His relentless mission was to try and prove his family’s innocence but it was a failed attempt in the eyes of the people.

The premise of Namal Rajapaksa is that it is a minor issue given the smear campaigns involving Sri Lanka, designed by Channel Four. In the same breath, he pooh-poohed the Channel 4 expose as mere rhetoric. A cross-section of the general public was not ready to go along with Rajapaksa’s insistence, emphasising that it merits a comprehensive examination and probe to ascertain the truth.

With the Channel 4 saga figuring in Parliament and elsewhere, all the other members of the Rajapaksa clan, except for the protagonist in the melodrama, maintained a stoic silence watching the unabated insults and accusations hurled at them. However, a few people, especially from the Kurunegala district, were trying to defend them.

The Defence Ministry issued a complete denial of the Channel 4 episode, while the government thought it fit to inquire into the matter. President Ranil Wickremesinghe decided to hold a quasi-judicial inquiry by appointing a retired Supreme Court Judge to head a presidential commission of inquiry and a separate Parliamentary Select Committee on the remarks made by former Attorney General Dappula De Livera before his retirement. The government itself has contradicted its position. While the Defence Ministry took a stand rejecting Channel 4’s allegations on behalf of the government, the President took a stand contrary to that and thought that the administration should clear the air before the presidential election next year. After all, was there an allegation against the government in the Channel 4 documentary?

The allegations were against several individuals and a paramilitary outfit operating from the onceTripoli warehouses of the Ceylon Government Railway called Tripoli Platoon, infamous for abductions and extrajudicial killings. By denying the Channel 4 saga, the Defence Ministry claimed the paramilitary outfit was part of their system and claimed ownership of the notorious Tripoli Platoon.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe had in mind a political motive when suggesting a retired judge of the Supreme Court and a select committee of Parliament in his typical ways of appointing committees for every minute matter.

In contrast, Wickremesinghe is well aware that the opposition SJB will take this slogan to the people and is capable of sweeping the vote in the Western coastal belt with an emotion-filled campaign.

Wickremesinghe aims to diffuse the SJB vote by appointing a parliamentary committee and a retired judge of the Supreme Court so that he can have some breathing space before the presidential election. But now, the apparent refusal of the Catholic church to accept the government’s suggestion has put him in an awkward position. He cannot appease the Catholics without initiating an inquiry, at least with minimal international participation. The church has virtually pushed the government to pledge an international probe. The circumstances are such that if Wickremesinghe wants to be in the fray with equal strength and counter the SJB and the JJB, he inevitably has to agree to the suggestion made by the Church. It may be to the chagrin of the SLPP, which is virtually on a slippery slope of decline.

For Wickremesinghe, political survival is more important than anything else, compelling him to give up certain principles he had avowed to uphold. He may have to seek shelter under another system that may ensure a better political deal in the long run.

Besides all this, in former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s statement, he more or less made a valiant effort to defend the Director General of the State Intelligence Service (SIS), Major General Suresh Sallay, who had been unreservedly loyal to his family. What Sarath Fonseka, the former Army Commander, told Parliament serves as an eye-opener: he said intelligence officers could pass through immigration gates without their departure or arrival being recorded. Sallay was attempting to provide an alibi to prove he wasn’t present during the Easter Sunday carnage of the 21st of April 2019, but this may not work in his favour. We don’t claim that Sallay was the mastermind behind the Easter attack, but holding on to his official position may put him in an awkward position of conflict of interest when there are allegations and the government has decided to have a presidential commission headed by a retired Supreme Court judge. The government is appointing the commission to investigate the circumstances that led to the attack and identify the perpetrators. Through an alibi, Sallay aims to convince the general public that he was not involved in the attack and had nothing to do with it.

Though Gotabaya Rajapaksa voluntarily defended Sallay for some reason or another, he failed to mention a word about the murder of journalist and Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha Wickramatunge, despite the fact there was ample evidence of his killing in the Channel 4 documentary.

He has to come out with a statement in a more comprehensive manner that was instrumental in the assassination of Lasantha Wickramatunge. Lasantha played a crucial role in exposing corruption as an investigative journalist, carrying investigative pieces including the exposure of the MIG ground attack aircraft deal. The Channel 4 broadcast was pointing its finger at Sivanesthurai Chandrakanthan, alias Pillayan, for his alleged involvement in the murder of Lasantha. Pillayan, in double quick speed, denied the allegation. His behaviour in Parliament prompted Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa to ask the Speaker whether the assassin of Lasantha is present here as a member of this House.

Following a quick denial, Pillayan asked for more time from the Speaker to make a detailed denial, which was allowed during the debate on the No-Confidence Motion on Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella.

Pillayan was in remand prison over the murder of Batticaloa district parliamentarian Joseph Pararajasingham and later acquitted of the case following a legal hiatus that arose in a voir dire inquiry in the High Court. There are a myriad of unresolved matters before the Inspector General of Police demanding justice and fair play as the country had already plunged into lawlessness over the years when it was under the Rajapaksa administration.

Be that as it may, the timely flotation of a new political party headed by business magnate Dilith Jayaweera was the big story last week. It appears that Gotabaya Rajapaksa is trying to make a foray through this party into the political limelight.

People are anticipating surprises through the Jayaweera channels, similar to the king cobra that crept into a plastic bottle after emerging from the waves of the Kelani River, denoting a bright and well-timed auspicious era.