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13 A, ECT: India steps up pressure

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Deputy HC in powwow with Karuna, Pilleyan and Hakeem

by Shamindra Ferdinando

Amidst a simmering dispute over the cancellation of an agreement on the Colombo port’s East Container Terminal (ECT) with India, the Indian High Commission in Colombo has discussed the full implementation of the 13th Amendment to Sri Lanka’s Constitution with two former LTTE leaders from the Eastern Province, namely Vinayagamoorthi Muralitharan aka Karuna Amman and lawmaker Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan aka Pilleyan.

Chandrakanthan, recently released by the Batticaloa High Court after being remanded for five years over the 2005 killing of TNA MP Joseph Pararajasingham entered parliament on the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP). Pilleyan supports the ruling SLPP administration.

Karuna made an abortive bid at the last parliamentary election to enter parliament from Digamadulla district. Subsequently, Karuna received an appointment as Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaaksa’s coordinator for Ampara and Batticaloa districts.

Political sources said that the timing of the meetings was significant. In spite of the Cabinet deciding to do away with the 2019 Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC), India keeps pressing Sri Lanka to abide by the 2019 Memorandum of Cooperation on the ECT.

The Indian High Commission confirmed the separate meetings the Deputy Indian High Commissioner Vinod K. Jacob had with delegations from the Eastern Province led respectively by Pilleyan and Karuna Amman. Jacob has reiterated the commitment of India to a long term development partnership with Sri Lanka.

The IHC stated that Jacob and Pilleyan had also discussed the full implementation of the 13th Amendment as well as Provincial Councils.  

The IHC quoted Karuna as having emphasised in particular, the prospects for future development cooperation especially in the areas of livelihood opportunities for war widows, handicapped persons as well as engagement in the education sector including scholarships. Deputy High Commissioner reiterated the position of the government of India that meaningful devolution is the way forward for achieving the aspirations of the Tamil people through full implementation of the 13th amendment and Provincial Council.

Meanwhile, Jacob discussed current developments with SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem. The IHC stated: Hakeem positively evaluated India’s gesture of early supply of Covid vaccines to Sri Lanka. Both sides also discussed matters pertaining to economic, financial and development cooperation opportunities.

 Hakeem shared his assessment about the challenges facing the Muslim community in recent times. Hakeem also briefed about the issues involved in the forthcoming UNHRC session beginning later this month. Deputy High Commissioner Jacob recalled the conversations between the Indian and Sri Lankan leadership since November 2019. During the Virtual Bilateral Summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa in September 2020, the latter had expressed the confidence that Sri Lanka would work towards realizing the expectations of all ethnic groups. Deputy High Commissioner reiterated India’s long standing and principled position on meaningful devolution through full implementation of 13th Amendment.



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Cardinal: Was there any link between passage of 20A and Easter Sunday probe outcome?

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… stands by his claim of foreign involvement

By Norman Palihawadana

Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith yesterday said that there could be a connection between the outcome of the probe into the Easter Sunday attacks and the enlisting of Muslim MPs’ support for the passage of the 20th Amendment.

The Cardinal said: “The leader of a Muslim political party voted against the 2Oth Amendment. But his MPs voted for it. The brother of Rishad Bathiudeen too was released around the same time. These are questionable developments. These events could be part of a deal.”

The Cardinal reiterated that international forces were behind the Easter Sunday attacks and that he did not believe that there had been any local political group directly involved in the Easter attacks.

Addressing the media yesterday, the Cardinal said that the remarks he made on Sunday had been misunderstood. He stood by his claim that international forces had been behind the attacks, he said.

“However, some people claim that I said a local political group was behind the attack. I have always maintained that there are international forces that use religious and ethnic extremists such as Wahabists to create conflicts. I was referring to such groups.”

The Cardinal added that only a small group of Muslims was involved in extremism.

The Archbishop also said that former President Maithripala Sirisena believed that taking action against extremists like NTJ leader Zahran Hashim would create unnecessary issues.

“Something along these lines is also in the PCoI on Easter Sunday attacks. The report also implies that the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was lenient in dealing with growing extremism in Sri Lanka.”

The Cardinal urged the government to protect the country and ensure that there would be no repeats of incidents like the Easter Sunday attacks.

The Archbishop of Colombo requested all religious leaders to work on rebuilding trust among all communities.

 

 

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AG appeals to Supreme Court against granting of bail to Ravi, others

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The Attorney General yesterday appealed to the Supreme Court against bail for former Minister Ravi Karunanayake and seven others indicted in the bond case by the Colombo Special High Court Trial-at-Bar.

The eight accused were arrested and remanded over the bond scams. Later, they were released on bail.

The court warned that if the accused attempted to exert influence on the witnesses, by any means, bail would be revoked and they would be placed on remand until the end of the trial.

 

 

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26 more coronavirus cases detected in Jaffna Tirunelveli market area

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Another 26 COVID-19 cases had been detected on Sunday, from the Tirunelveli Market in Jaffna, which was the epicentre of the recent outbreak in the town, Dr. A. Kethiswaran, Regional Director Health Services told the media yesterday.

The market and its surroundings had been reopened on April 11 following a 19-day lockdown. However, 378 PCR tests were conducted after the Sinhala and Tamil New Year and 26 of them proved positive.

Dr. Kethiswaran warned last week that there might be a spike in COVID-19 cases in Jaffna after the New Year celebrations.

A large number of COVID-19 cases had been reported in Jaffna in the past few weeks. Thus, the people should adhere to health guidelines. If people did not follow the guidelines, there would be a spike in cases and then some places would have to be lockdown, he warned.

“It’s too early to say whether we have to close the area down. We are monitoring the situation,” DR. Kethiswaran said.

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