Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on Tuesday reportedly told his Cabinet that Indian intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) was plotting his assassination.
Sources present at the meeting told the Hindu that Sirisena claimed that RAW was “trying to kill him”, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi “may not be aware of the plan”.
Senior presidential advisor Shiral Lakthilaka has denied the report, calling it false. He said Sirisena was misquoted in the media and the President’s Office would issue a statement later in the day.
The allegation, coming just days ahead of the island nation’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s scheduled meeting with PM Modi in New Delhi, could seriously impair Indo-Lanka relations.
During the meeting, Sirisena also accused the government of showing “indifference” to an assassination plot targeting him, Hindu reported.
An individual named Namal Kumara, part of an anti-corruption outfit, had last month claimed there was a plan to assassinate Sirisena and former defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, leading to the arrest of an Indian national from Kerala named M Thomas.
At the Cabinet meeting, Sirisena insinuated that the Indian national arrested must “be a RAW agent” sent to kill him,
“The Indian PM may not be aware. That is often the case. Trump may not be aware of CIA’s similar moves,” he reportedly said, according to the Hindu.
This is not the first time that a Sri Lankan leader has accused the Indian agency of interference. Following his poll defeat in 2015, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa held RAW among those responsible for the change in regime.
Ties between the two neighbours have been strained recently as India has been concerned with the slow pace of several projects in the island. Colombo, however, has appeared inclined to iron out the issues, in order to better balance its ties with key partners India and China.