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25 arrested for spreading fake pandemic stories on social media

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By Pradeep Prasanna Samarakoon

Twenty five persons had been arrested for spreading fake news related to COVID-19 pandemic via social media, police spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana said yesterday.

He told The Island the suspects would be charged under the Quarantine Rules and Regulations and the Penal Code.

DIG Rohana said the suspects had put up false Facebook posts related to deaths in hospitals on the roadside.

“The Criminal Investigations Department initiated an investigation, following the publication of a report that many deaths had occurred on Sri Lanka on roads due to COVID-19.

 A 35-year-old individual had been arrested on Saturday (14) in Kadugannawa, over the spread of fake news related to COVID-19 deaths via social media, DIG Rohana said.

The arrest was made at Egodawatta, Henawala in Kadugannawa, by a special CID team.

The Police Spokesperson said that out of the 53 COVID-19 deaths reported in the country as of Saturday (14), only one person had collapsed and passed away on the road due to COVID-19. He added that the victim was a homeless person. “That is the only death of that nature. However, the fake news mentioned many such deaths had occurred.”

 Another four people had been traced in connection with the similar crime and they too would be arrested in due course, the DIG said.

Some people in custody had posted that several hospitals had released COVID-19 patients without treating them.

DIG Ajith Rohana advised social media users to refrain from sharing fake news.

“If you realise it is fake news and if you don’t know the truth of that particular news item, don’t forward it and don’t share it. If you are going to forward or share, sometimes you may commit a punishable offence.”



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Economic crisis: 100,000 families already starving

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Govt. to provide monthly assistance package – official

By Ifham Nizam 

Plans are underway to assist an average needy family of  four with a monthly package of Rs. 15,000, a senior adviser to President Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday, adding that the move was expected to help ameliorate the plight of nearly 65,000 families.

Food Security Committee Chairman Dr. Suren Batagoda told The Island yesterday that at present some 100,000 families across the country were starving.

He said financial assistance would be provided to those families for three months. Within three months, the government would design a package in the form of food stamps, etc.

Dr. Batagoda said the World Food Programme, UNICEF, the World Bank, and state agencies would also team up to strengthen food security, focusing especially on needy pregnant mothers and pre-school children.

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GR govt. ignored Chinese lenders’ request for debt restructuring

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Gotabaya Rajapaksa government had ignored suggestions by Chinese lending institutions that Sri Lanka to restructure the debt in 2021, Prof. Samitha Hettige said yesterday.

“The Rajapaksa government started talking of debt restructuring earlier this year. The Opposition had been asking for this before,” he said.  By 2021, before the Gotabaya Rajapaksa administration decided on debt restructuring, the Chinese institutions that had given Sri Lanka loans suggested that a restructuring process should start since Sri Lanka would have trouble repaying the loans, the Strategic Studies scholar said.

However, the request had gone unheeded, and if the government had started discussions then, Sri Lanka would not have been in crisis, Prof. Hettige said.

The Sri Lankan foreign policy, in the last few years, had also been misguided, Prof. Hettige said. A number of Indian and Chinese companies faced unnecessary issues by the behaviour of the government, he said.

Prof. Hettige said that the government must focus on establishing free trade ports and reducing negative lists for investments.

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SJB dissociates itself from SF’s call for protest

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By Chaminda Silva

MP Sarath Fonseka’s call for people to join anti-government protests was not a decision taken by the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), party MP J.C Alawathuwala said.

The SJB believed that they had to help President Ranil Wickremesinghe stabilise the country, economically and politically, he said.

MP Alawathuwala said the President must be given some time to solve the problems faced by the people and that the SJB was holding discussions with the government to guide it on a people-friendly path.

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