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Kumar Gunaratnam to be freed today

Leader of the Front line Socialist Party Premkumar Gunaratnam alias Kumar Mahattaya is expected to be freed at 12 noon today from the Kegalle Prison, where he served a sentence of one year for violating immigration regulations.

He would not be deported to Australia as speculated by political circles, the government told Parliament yesterday.

"Gunaratnam has asked for visa extension and we hope it will be granted," Propaganda Secretary of the FSLP Pubudu Jagoda told The Island. At a meeting attended by Wayamba Development Cultural affairs and Immigration and Emigration Minister S B Navinna and Controller of Immigration and Emigration, the FSP was told Gunaratnam would be given a visa for three months, party sources said.

Minister Navinna earlier in the day told Parliament that a FSP delegation had met Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe seeking the release of their leader.

Arrested at his ancestral house in Kegalle on Nov. 04, last year, Gunaratnam was imprisoned on March 24, this year. The term was for one year and his term was to expire on December 09, this year. The year had been counted leaving Sundays and public holidays, party sources said.

During his stay Gunaratnam met 33 persons including his family members, supporters and party members. He read extensively and conducted English classes for fellow inmates and was very popular among prisoners as well as officials, sources said.

Gunaratnam arrived in Sri Lanka on Jan. 01, 2015 using an Australian Passport (N 1016123) bearing the name, Noel Mudalige.  He had been granted a visa till Jan. 30, 2015 but did not leave the country. He did not make public appearances. His name has been included in the FSP’s national list accepted by the Elections Commissioner for the August 17 general election. Gunaratnam’s name has been listed along with his real NIC No 653231890 V.

Born in Kegalle on 18.11.1965 to a Sinhalese mother and a Tamil father, Gunaratnam played a major role behind the scene in JVP revival in the aftermath of its top leaders being wiped out during anti-insurgent crackdown by the then UNP government in the 1987-90 period.

He was educated at St. Mary’s College, Kegalle, and Pinnawala Central College, Rambukkana. He entered the University of Peradeniya Faculty of Engineering and became a student leader. He did not complete his degree and married a doctor, Champa Somaratna. His family is currently resident in Australia.

Gunaratnam arrived in Sri Lanka on Sept. 4, 2011 using his Australian passport and engaged in clandestine JVP operations until the party faced a split paving the way for the creation of FSP.

He claimed he had been abducted by a group who came in a white van from a house at No: 291, Gemunu Mawatha, Kiribathgoda on April 06, 2012 and dumped near the Colombo Crime Division head office at Dematagoda in the early hours of April 09, 2012. The Australian High Commission intervened to secure his release. Then Australian High Commissioner, Robyn Mudie, met top defence officials after Gunaratnam’s wife Champa had requested the Australian government to intervene on behalf of her husband. The following day, he was deported to Australia, where Gunaratnam alleged that he had been abducted, interrogated and tortured by men attached to the state intelligence agencies.

Gunaratnam was one of the first to reveal to the country that Presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena and the JVP had struck a deal prior to the Jan. 8 polls. He made the revelation in an exclusive interview with The Island.

The Inter University Students’ Federation now under the control of FSLP led by Gunaratnam was behind recent student agitations.