Apr 26, Colombo: Sri Lanka's Minister of Industry & Commerce, Resettlement of Protracted Displaced Persons & Cooperative Development, Skills Development & Vocational Training Rishad Bathiudeen today strongly denied any personal or political links with persons accused of terrorism.
Addressing a special press conference at the Ministry today to respond to allegations made against him in the aftermath of 21 April terror attacks, Minister Bathiudeen said he did not have any personal or political links Chairman of Colombo Traders' Association (CTA) YM Ibrahim, who is accused of terrorism related to the April 21 attacks and now in detention.
Minister of Industry & Commerce stressed that Ibrahim did not 'officially work for him' either.
"I had no personal connections with Ibrahim. Neither he worked for me as a political coordinator nor any of my Ministry vehicles have been given to him for use," Minister Bathiudeen said.
Minister Bathiudeen rejected outright that a house belonging to his sister was rented out to terrorists. "My sister has been living in Canada for the last four years. What kind of renting business do you think she could be doing in Sri Lanka? I totally reject this allegation too."
The Minister also rejected all the allegations made by Parliamentarian SB Dissanayake about him on 25 April.
"None of them are true. They are trying to take revenge from me for not backing them during last year's political coup. This is just playing cheap politics and I and my party ACMC reject to play low politics. None of my political or Ministerial advisers are connected to the terrorist organization National Tawheed Jamat (NTJ). I and my brothers do not have any links with NTJ whatsoever."
ACMC Leader also rejected an allegation that he politically influenced to get some terror suspects released.
The Minister said the ACMC, as a growing political party, fully support all the official investigations that are currently on and ready to give any assistance.
The Minister urged the media institutions to be responsible in what they are reporting.
"At this critical time, I urge you all, as media personnel, to follow media norms and ethics without blindly reporting what people say for political gains. Such reporting is highly damaging to me and ACMC."
The Minister pointed out that the media also reported that the Industrial Development Board (IDB) under his purview has given empty cartridges to Shangri La suicide bombers' metal company on the influence of a powerful government politician.
"As per procedure I nor Ministry Secretary have now powers to approve these requests and only IDB officials and experts have the authority to accept and reject. More than 200 companies make these requests and they are just one company that applied and qualified. The IDB has no capacity to monitor all these companies on a daily basis."
On 24 April, making s statement in Parliament, Minister Bathiudeen said that the arrested CTA Chairman Ibrahim met him with a delegation of CTA to resolve trade issues.
"Any Industry and Commerce Minister meets business and trade representatives for trade issues and business development. As the Trade Minister I too meet business and trade representatives on a regular basis. I met YM Ibrahim in 2017 June along with his CTA representatives at my Ministry office to solve the supply issues that they officially submitted to me," he said.