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2,718 children dropped out of school last year

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By Lalith Chaminda

A Department of Probation and Child Care Services report shows that 2,718 children have dropped out of school in 2021.The Department is in charge of assisting children who drop out of school for economic and other reasons.

Last year, the Department established a scholarship fund for such children with an allocation of Rs. 16 million.A National Audit Office report on the Department says that although 65 years have elapsed since establishing the institution, they have done nothing to come up with a child protection ordinance that adheres to international standards.

The National Audit Office also says that the Cabinet of Ministers on 06 March 2021 had instructed the Department to commence formulating such an ordinance. However, nothing had been done by the end of 2021.



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Easter Sunday terror attack suspect hacked to death

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By Norman Palihawadane

A 38-year-old Easter Sunday terror attack suspect was hacked to death yesterday morning (28) in Mattakkuliya.

The victim, Mohamed Badurdeen Mohamed Harnas, was a resident of Safiya Avenue, Mattakkuliya, police said.

A suspect in the Easter Sunday terror attacks, he had been released on bail.

The suspect was rushed to the National Hospital, Colombo, after three individuals, who arrived in a car around 10. 00 am, attacked him.

Two persons attacked the man while the other was keeping the car engine running, according to eyewitnesses. The attackers thereafter fled in the same car.

Harnas was pronounced dead on admission to hospital.

Further investigations in this regard are currently underway.

The victims family members said that Harnas had been taken into custody, following the 2019 Easter Sunday attacks, but later released as there was no evidence of his involvement in terrorist activities.

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Rail service between Mahawa and Jaffna to be suspended for five months

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Transport Minister Bandula Gunawardena told Parliament yesterday that the railway services between Mahawa and Jaffna will be suspended for a period of five months in 2023.

The Minister said that operations will be suspended from January 15, 2023.

The Minister said it was to repair work on the railway line.

He said so in response to a question raised by Vanni District MP Selvam Adaikalanathan.

“We are focusing our attention on the request made by you. We have to halt railway operations between Mahawa and Jaffna for five months from January 2023. Train services have been continuously operating to Jaffna, but now we have faced a situation as we have not been able to carry out any repair work thus far,” the Minister said.

Assuring that this issue can be rectified in five months, Minister Gunawardane said that, thereafter, a good railway service can be provided for this route.

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Imthiaz: Youth have every right to be angry and rulers cannot escape responsibility

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Imthiaz Bakeer Markar

SJB MP Imthiaz Bakeer Markar says a ruler cannot hold on to power by imprisoning the country’s youth.

Participating in the debate on the 2023 Budget, Bakeer Markar said, “The current crisis has severely affected the country’s youth as proved by the ongoing brain drain. We must all understand this situation. The youth who are suffering due to these issues are now in anger. Their dreams have been destroyed due to the crisis. They have no hopes for the future and neither have they been offered any help or support to build their lives. Given the situation they have every right to be angry.”

“Labelling them as terrorists or issuing threats claiming that military or police will be deployed against them is not what must be done.

“It is a fallacy to think traditional politics or intimidation is a solution to these issues. One is mistaken if one believes they can hang on to power through the use of the Prevention of Terrorism Act or a Rehabilitation Bill or even by locking up youth in torture chambers or in dark rooms. Traditional politics is dead. One cannot deal with today’s youth with an island mentality,” he said.

The MP said that youth with new thinking is coming into power the world over and have become forces of change in their countries.

“The world is calling for Martin Luthers and not Hitlers,” he said, adding that Sri Lanka must use the citizens’ struggle in a positive manner for its future journey.  “Our country’s youth became exemplary when they engaged in a peaceful struggle on the country’s streets for freedom, equality and life. Using their struggle as an example we should set our goals as a country higher and obtain the support of the youth to embark on this journey. This is what is accepted in the developed world today where they look at youth in a positive manner. It is understood that a speedier journey towards development can be achieved through this,” the MP said.

He said that oppression is not the answer. The country’s leadership must join hands with them to go forward.

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