Sri Lankan journalist seeks asylum

Place: Sri Lanka | Courtesy: NewInd Press
| Date: 20000900

CHENNAI: Keerthi Kalamegam, a Sri Lankan journalist, has sought political asylum in India. He got into trouble after publishing a book `Good-bye Chandrika'. Now he has been forced to say `good-bye' to his own country.

Keerthi was with Lake House, which publishes `Sunday Observer.' But he lost his job after he wrote an article on the Lake House's involvement in Lalit Athulatmudali's killing.

Interestingly, Chandrika, then Chief Minister of the Western Province of Sri Lanka, wrote to Bar Council President D W Abeykon that Keerthi was well known to her. She also wrote that he lost his job under wholly unjust circumstances and suggested that he was a good case for a Fundamental Rights Application.

And he dedicated his first political book, `How Premadasa and Dingiri Panda Manipulated Justice' to President Chandrika Kumaratunga when she assumed power in the mid 1990s. But when she started committing mistakes he was not afraid to write the truth which was against her interests. His second book `Good-bye Chandrika' was written to expose her.

Then Leader of the House and now Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayakan wrote to him that the Government planned to impeach the judges on Keerthi's charges.

Contract killers started following him, looking for an opportunity to finish him off, he alleges. "After staying in a hotel room at Colombo I, the safest area in Sri Lanka, I fled to Singapore and now landed in Chennai."

He feels safe here but he will have to depend on the sale of his book for a living, whose Tamil version would be released in two months. On the run for his life, Kirthi wants the State to grant him political asylum.