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The brave threesome who saved many a life

COLOMBO: The brave, vigilant and patriotic guardians of the nation who saved the lives of many innocent civilians from a massive human disaster by a heavy claymore on Tuesday in Borella junction are to be praised and their feat should be trumpeted to the nation. The courageous trio comprised Police Constables K.A.A. Ranasinghe, P.M.C. Rajapakse and S. Chandrasiri.

Q: Where is your usual duty station?

vigilant: PC Ranasinghe Pix by Mahinda Vithanachchi

PC Ranasinghe: I work in the city traffic attached to the Pettah police, I was on a special duty to enforce "empty parking" on Tuesday at Borella Junction. On that day my duty covered from the D.S. Senanayake Junction to Borella Junction and vice versa on one side.

PC Chandrasiri: I'm attached to Borella police station. On Tuesday morning I was on duty at the Borella Junction.

PC Rajapakse: I was a recent entrant to Kotte Police. On Tuesday I was on a special duty to enforce "empty parking" at Borella Junction. My duty was to cover from D.S. Senanayake Junction to the Borella Junction on one side of the road.

Q: Why were you suspicious about the particular bicycle?

PC Ranasinghe: My duty is on route clearing, i.e. ensuring no parking of vehicles, motorbikes and bicycles in places where they cannot be parked. My destination was from D.S. Senanayake Junction to Borella Junction. When I was walking up and down clearing from D.S. Senanayake Junction to Borella Junction I didn't see a bicycle there before.

patriotic guardians: PC Ranasinghe with PC Rajapakse
and PC Chandrasiri

When I was coming back I saw a bicycle parked in front of a grocery. The luggage of the bicycle was facing the road side, it was fixed with a box. Inside the box were two bundles of Kankun leaves, but they were withered in the early morning around 9.10 a.m. I questioned the grocery owner and asked him who was the owner of the bicycle but he was puzzled.

Then I inquired from the lottery seller if he was the owner, he also did not know who the owner was. Next I went in search of the owner around Borella Junction filling station but I couldn't find the owner. Then I felt suspicious the way it was parked and the withered Kankun leaves.

Q: What was your reaction soon after you saw the claymore?

PC Ranasinghe: I approached the bicycle to see what was in the box. First, I took out the Kankun leaves and opened the box and found there were some spoiled tomatoes, radish and some eggs.

At the bottom was a cardboard, when I lifted it I saw a green wire and a bomb inside it. I slowly replaced the cardboard and ran to PC Rajapakse who was on "empty parking" duty on the other side. I told him that "there's a bomb inside the box on the bicycle luggage, and evacuate all the civilians and vehicles from the area".

Then I rushed for more assistance from PC Chandrasiri who was on traffic duty. We three came to the spot and PC Chandrasiri detected the box and found a bulky size claymore and two detonators. Then we evacuated the civilians and the vehicles. PC Chandrasiri was the only one who had a walkie talkie and he called the emergency for the assistance.

Q: Why do you think the terrorists have chosen this spot to place the claymore?

This route is used by the VIPs and that day was Parliament was sitting. Ministers take this road as it goes through Narahenpita. It's also the morning rush hour. Opposite the YMBA, between D.S. Senanayake Junction and Borella Junction gets crowded. If the claymore went off at that time there would have been a massive disaster.

Q: If the claymore went off what would have been the consequences?

There is a pre-school, a filling station, YMBA, Hatton National Bank (HNB), the Bus stop and Traffic light. If the claymore exploded the consequences would have resulted in human catastrophe.

The STF bomb disposal team rushed to the scene and defused the claymore which contained around 6,000 bicycle ball bearings and C4 high explosives. The weight of the claymore was 16.5 kg. If it exploded, it could have created an enormous calamity.

Q: The terrorists' new technique of planting roadside bombs in three wheelers and bicycles etc. How are you going to over come such a situation?

We can face it if the general public co-operates with us. We ask the public to assist us and be part of us.

When we stop a vehicle, motor bike or three wheeler at a checkpoint, people get annoyed with the officers for their delay. If we ask the drivers to remove their vehicles from the places where they are not allowed to park, they argue with the officers. If the public follow the rules of security and traffic we can face any situation.

Q: Have you ever come across such experience in your life before?

PC Rajapakse: I've been working in conflict areas for six years. I was involved in route clearing missions during that time, so I have faced many such incidents.

PC Chandrasiri: I have also faced such incidents many times as I worked close to the Army at Forward Defence Line in the North and East.

PC Ranasinghe: For me, this was the first such experience I come across in my twenty years of service.

Q: Did you receive any help or support from the public at that moment you found the claymore?

In fact, we didn't receive support from the public as we were evacuating civilians from the area and the civilians without listening to our orders were coming towards the scene.

Q: How did you feel when you first saw the claymore ?

PC Ranasinghe: When I lifted the cardboard I noticed a green wire and a bomb and I really panicked. At once I thought of my life and the innocent civilians. Then I rushed to other officers to evacuate the civilians from the area.

Q: Have you received any reward for your heroic job and for saving many innocent lives?

So far we have not received any reward or promotion. We heard that there will be a reward and promotion. We have not received any confirmation from the officials yet.

Q: What is your message to the public with regard to this sort of deadly explosives?

We request the public to be vigilant these days as terrorists are targeting civilians and VIPs. We are also proud and happy that we saved so many lives and prevented a great diaster.



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