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Bloody rumpus at Jaffna Central College blamed by CMEV on lack of understanding of counting process



By Rathindra Kuruwita

Political party leaders must educate their candidates and their supporters on how the counting process works, National Coordinator of the Center for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV,) Manjula Gajanayake told The Island yesterday commenting on unrest at the Jaffna Central College on Thursday night between supporters of ITAK candidates Mavai Senathirajah and Sasikala Raviraj.

Supporters of Raviraj accused Senathirajah and Jaffna District MP elect M. A. Sumanthiran of rigging the preferential votes and depriving her of a seat in parliament.

“From midday our observers had noted that a large number of supporters were gathering at the counting centre. Later there was a delay in issuing preferential vote count and when the results were announced, Raviraj had not won. However, Raviraj thought she had come in second and that was also what her supporters expected. Then there were social media posts by Raviraj’s daughter and other supporters that something fishy was going on and her supporters were angry.”

At that point Sumanthiran arrived with his security and supporters of Raviraj expressed their displeasure at his presence and supporters of various candidates clashed, according to Gajanayake. The police and STF officers had come in unarmed. They had left their weapons inside their vehicles because they didn’t want to make matters worse and it became hard to control the situation.

“Finally, the Police and STF officers had to use force to disperse the clashing rival supporters and some people sustained injuries. Sons of both Senathirajah and Raviraj were among those who sustained injuries.”

Gajanayake said that the incident was due lack of understanding of the counting process among candidates and their supporters. Their ignorance and social media were a dangerous combination, the CMEV National Coordinator said.

“The counting process is documented throughout. Our monitors at the counting centre checked the documents and things seemed to be in order. It is very difficult to say that a person has got enough preferential votes to get in, until the very end of the counting process. The ITAK is an alliance of many parties and there are lots of internal issues and this also contributed to the incident.”

Gajanayake added that Raviraj could move courts if she was convinced that she had been wrongfully denied a seat in parliament.

Yesterday morning, Raviraj’s daughter, Praviinaa Raviraj on Facebook blamed Sumanthiran and TNA leader R. Sampanthan for having deprived her mother a seat in parliament. She also blamed Sumanthiran for mobilizing the STF to assault her supporters.

“We aren’t sour losers, but can one win and then lose? To all those in Colombo and away congratulating us and are unaware of the turnaround that happened last night. The final verdict brought my mum down from 2nd to 4th within TNA Jaffna and Kilinochchi District. Personally, I felt the results were delayed to wait for Sumanthiran. And turmoil was created to hide the rigged voting that had happened in two counting booths. Sumanthiran’s STF attacked peaceful protesters with stones and etc.

“So I want to “thank” Sumanthiran and his STF for attacking, wounding not just friends and family but also supporters of other competing parties. I want to “thank” TNA for letting a snake grow in their own garden.”

 Sasikala is the widow of assassinated TNA parliamentarian Nadaraja Raviraj. He was gunned down in Colombo with his police bodyguard in 2006.


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



… 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



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



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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