Accusing interested parties of exploiting abductions to tarnish the image of his government, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has said that according to the Mahanama Tillekeratne Commission on Abductions, in 90% of cases brought before it, the person allegedly "abducted" had returned.
At a meeting in Colombo on Friday, with the relatives of those "abducted" Rajapaksa said that as per the Commission, the persons who had disappeared were either domestic servants who had wanted to escape; lovers who had eloped; or men and women who had left their spouses after a domestic dispute.
"Due to a large number of complaints of abductions being made for narrow political reasons, police investigations into the genuine complaints about abductions had been hindered," the President said.
Rajapaksa assured the families of the abducted that the police or the armed forces had no need to "abduct" persons for investigations and that they would work within the law. Those suspected of involvement with terrorism, were taken with valid detention orders, he said.
Rajapaksa said that he was aware that harassment of Tamils would only make them "move closer to Prabhakaran (the leader of the LTTE)".
On the alleged move to prevent people from the war-torn Tamil-speaking mortheast from staying or moving about in Colombo without an "valid reason", the police chief Victor Perera said that investigations would be done regarding those who were not permanent residents of Colombo.
The purpose of their continued stay in Colombo without any reasonable cause would be examined, he said.
Earlier in the week, many long term guests at the lodges in Colombo which catered to Tamils from the North East and the Hill Country, were asked to leave because the police had told the lodge owners that they could not give out rooms to people for more than a few days.
Those wanting to stay for long periods in Colombo had to get police clearance, the lodge owners were told.
The President's statements notwithstanding, according to the Civil Monitoring Commission and the rights organisations, abduction for political or criminal reasons, especially in Colombo and Jaffna, had increased in the past year, inviting world attention and strident criticism of the Rajapalksa regime. Some persons were abducted in Colombo even as the President was speaking to affected families.