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Chamuditha complains his life is in danger, but won’t give up ‘Salakuna’

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‘No point in seeking police protection, have written a letter to be released if I’m harmed’ 

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Popular Hiru TV anchor Chamuditha Samarawickrema says there are threats to his life, but he will continue to host the weekly live ‘Salakuna’ programme.

“I am determined to go ahead with it whatever the obstacles are,” Samarawickrema told The Island yesterday (6) identifying some specific threats.

Asked whether he would lodge a complaint with the police, Samarawickrema said obviously there was no point in doing so.  Acknowledging there were honest officers and men,

Samarawickrema said that those at the helm of law enforcement ruined the once proud service.

The way law enforcement authorities had handled the Shangri-La case following the exposure of influential makeup artist Chandimal Jayasinghe’s birthday party therein on the night of May 30 in violation of Covid-19 health guidelines demonstrated their partiality, the Hiru journalist said.

Instead of going to police, he had decided to pen a detailed letter in case those angered and affected by the Hiru exposure on May 31 night and the subsequent developments resorted to violence. Answering another question, Samarawickrema said that ‘Salakuna’ would conduct a live interview with Mass Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella tonight (7). “If I’m harmed, the letter will be in the public domain. The public will know the identities of those responsible,” Samarawickrema said, adding that as part of precautions he had given Harendra Jayalal’s YouTube channel an interview, which was released online on Saturday night.

Asked to name those threatening him, Samarwickrema said that there were four specific threats from a notorious businessman, two persons from the Polonnaruwa District and another whose henchmen had threatened to sever an arm and a leg of his. All of them had been mentioned in the letter, he said.

The popular TV anchor emphasised that he didn’t have any issue with Chandimal Jayasinghe, model Piyumi Hansamali or Shangri-la hotel. The contentious issues raised during two-hour ‘Salakuna ’programme  on the night of 31 May, with Police Spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana, who is also the senior officer in charge of the Police Legal Division and Public Health Inspector Union President Upul Rohana participated as participants, had caused quite a stir, Samarawickrama said.

The ‘Hiru’ team comprised Samarawickrema, Chapa Bandara and Kalindu Widanage.

Samarawickrema said that the media couldn’t be faulted for reporting the Shangri-La party.

Public Security Minister  Rear Admiral (retd) Sarath Weerasekera’s intervention in the Shangri-La affair, too, should be probed, Samarawickrema said, pointing out that in a statement issued on the night of 04 June, the Public Security Ministry had acknowledged he received calls from both Hansamali through her lawyer Manju Sri and Chandimal claiming they were being moved to a quarantine centre in Passara without basic essential items such as clothes.

 

Samarawickrema said that he worked as a freelancer in addition to running two social media channels-Truth with Chamuditha and cnb (Chamuditha News Brief).

Samarawickrema emphasised that at a time the entire country was struggling to tackle the pandemic, the government couldn’t under any circumstances allow ministers, regardless of their portfolios and seniority, pursue personal agendas.

Samarawickrema recalled how transport minister SLPP heavyweight Gamini Lokuge had caused a serious setback to the government’s battle against Covid-19 by doing away with travel restrictions imposed in Piliyandala area recently. The government had done nothing about it, Samarawickrema alleged, saying that the SLPP’s much touted ‘One Country, One Law’ slogan had apparently become a joke.

When Moratuwa Mayor Saman Lal Fernando meddled with the vaccination programme recently, he had been arrested by the police, produced in court and remanded till 11 June but those who allowed a party to be held at Shangri-La had gone scot-free, Samarawickrama said, adding that some people taken into custody in Jaffna for partying had been remanded.

Samarawickrema also acknowledged that Opposition political parties, too, had refrained from commenting on the issue at hand. However, former Minister Ravi Karunanayake, JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, MP, Roshan Ranasinghe, MP and Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage over the phone inquired about the incident.  Yes, perhaps, Opposition lawmakers, too, may be wary of attracting the wrath of those who launched what Samarawickrema called a social media tirade against him and ‘Hiru.’



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MP’s wife, father-in-law among three detained

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Rishad held under PTA to be questioned

16-year-old girl’s death:

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Police investigating the death of 16-year-old Ishalini, the domestic servant at All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) leader Rishad Bathiudeen’s Baudhaloka Mawatha residence have arrested Ayesha Shiabdeen, 46, the wife of the former minister.

Police also took into custody Rishad’s father-in-law Mohammed Shiabdeen, 70, and Ponnaiah Pandaram alias Shankar, 64, a resident of Dayagama.

Police Spokesman Senior DIG Ajith Rohana said that Shankar had brought Ilashini from Dayagama to the Baudhaloka Mawatha residence of Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) Vanni District lawmaker late last year.

Having studied the post postmortem report, they were taken into custody in terms of Section 360 C and Section 308 B of the Penal Code that dealt with human trafficking and cruelty to children, the top police officer said. According to him, so far 20 statements had been recorded.

Asked whether MP Bathiudeen, too, had been among the questioned, Senior DIG Rohana said the parliamentarian detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) over 2019 Easter Sunday carnage, too, would be interrogated in that regard.

The ACMC contested the last general election on the SJB ticket. It switched its allegiance to the SJB ahead of 2020 general election after having represented the cabinet in UNP led yahapalana administration. Rishad has also served President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s cabinet during his second term.

Having suffered serious burn injuries on July 3 at the MP’s residence and admitted to the National Hospital, Illashini succumbed to her injuries on July 15th. Medical examination revealed that she had been raped over a period of time.

The police spokesman said that they intended to secure court approval to detain the suspects for 72 hours. A Superintendent of Police could obtain such approval on the strength of a B report submitted to the court in respect of offenses on children.

Although, the police indicated earlier in the day they would be produced in Colombo Magistrate court they weren’t brought in.

Meanwhile, the SJB said that interested parties were making a despicable attempt to politicize the incident. The police should be allowed to conduct the investigation without interference, a spokesman for the main Opposition party said.

 

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Women’s organisations in North conduct protests demanding justice for Ilashini

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A section of those engaged in Jaffna protests

 

By Dinasena Ratugamage

Women’s organisations in the North yesterday held a number of demonstrations in Vavuniya, Mannar, Kilinochchi and Jaffna against the death of J. Ilashini, the 16 -year-old girl who died while working at SJB MP Rishad Bathiudeen’s residence.

The protesters urged authorities to ensure that investigations into the death are conducted in a transparent manner. The family of the victim should be compensated and those guilty punished, they said.

Representatives of the organisations said that if justice was not done, they would hold a massive demonstration in Tarapuram, Mannar, which Bathiudeen represents in Parliament.

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Dancer lodges complaint with police over FB post 

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Police headquarters yesterday (23) said that dancer Anusha Damayanthi had lodged a complaint with the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) over a Facebook post alleging that she was running a brothel.

Police headquarters said that Damayanthi, while denying the accusation, had also brought to the CID’s notice that a minister was being accused of lambasting the Walana anti-crime strike force for carrying out the raid. Police said that an investigation was underway.

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