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Easter Sunday carnage: Challenge before AG

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On May 18, the then Attorney General Dappula de Livera said there had been a conspiracy behind the attacks that killed 269 people and injured over 500 on Easter Sunday in 2019. On May 15, he said in a letter to IGP C. D. Wickramaratne, that his department was unable to press charges or file indictments against the conspirators and abettors of the Easter Sunday attack as the CID had not completed its investigations.

De Livera also said that though Naufer Maulavi was a key conspirator, he couldn’t be considered the mastermind of the terror attacks. This runs counter to what the Public Security Minister Sarath Weerasekera has said.

The alleged conspiracy should be viewed against the backdrop of the State Intelligence Service (SIS) receiving specific intelligence relating to the Easter attacks.

On May 25 Attorney General de Livera retired, and Acting Solicitor General Sanjay Rajaratnam was appointed as his successor.

Dappula de Livera handled the Easter Sunday inquiry right from its inception. He was the Solicitor General before being appointed as Attorney General on 29 April 2019, just eight days after the Easter Sunday attacks. De Livera succeeded Jayantha Jayasuriya, PC, who was appointed the Chief Justice.

The Easter Sunday carnage took place on 21 April 2019. The AG’s serious accusation directed at the CID should be examined against the backdrop of him handling the Easter Sunday inquiry right from its inception.

According to the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) report that dealt with the Easter Sunday carnage, as well as the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI), in 2017 the AG’s Department failed to act on information provided by the police in respect of suicide bomber Zahran Hashim. PSC and PCoI revealed how the AG’s Department literally sat on that particular file for two years. Was it negligence or could there be some other explanation.

The examination of the parliamentary debate on the Easter attacks, and other related statements made in Parliament this year, shows the need to review (i) the developments in the run-up to the 2019 Easter carnage, (ii) coordinated multiple attacks and (iii) the post-incident scenario.

High profile intervention was made by the AG in October last year, when the CID quietly released Riyajj Bathiudeen, in April 2020, in connection with the Easter Sunday attacks. Then, the suspect was re-arrested in April this year, in terms of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), Regardless of the person at the helm at the AG’s Department, the public expected the perpetrators of the heinous crime to be brought to justice.

President’s Counsel de Livera should explain what he really meant when he said the Easter Sunday carnage was a massive conspiracy.

The delay in addressing the post-Easter Sunday issues and concluding investigations into the carnage poses a threat to national security.

On May 19, Minister of Public Security Sarath Weerasekara told Parliament the FBI confirmed that Maulavi (Islamic preacher) Mohamad Ibrahim Mohamad Naufer had masterminded the Easter Sunday bombings.

The Minister said the AG had already filed indictments against 16 suspects in the Kegalle High Court for damaging a Buddha Statue in Mawanella, and six suspects in the Puttalam High Court for storing explosives in Wanathawilluwa. Three more were indicted in the Kegalle High Court for the attempted murder of Mohammad Taslim, a key witness whose body is partially paralysed as a result of a gunshot to the head. Police believe Taslim was shot on the orders of Zahran Hashim, the ringleader of the suicide bombers that blew themselves up on April 21 2019. Mohammed Naufer Mohammed Yusri and Hejaaz Hizbullah and another were indicted for aiding and abetting terrorist activities in Gampaha and Puttalam High Courts.

Weerasekara said in November 2020, eight documents with charges were presented to the AG regarding the eight attacks that happened on Easter Sunday 2019. The PCol that probed the attack presented its findings to the AG in February this year. According to the Minister, from March 12 to April 24, a team of 54 police investigators, together with state counsels from the Attorney General’s Department, worked in a team led by a Senior Assistant Solicitor General to thoroughly analyse the evidence and facts under the personal supervision of the AG. Authorities have apprehended 704 individuals suspected of being connected to the bombings, according to Weerasekara.

Shortcomings in the investigation were reported to the police on April 24. The AG then resubmitted the report to the IGP on May 12, and by that time, the police had addressed most of the shortcomings and reported back to the AG’s Department, Weerasekara said. “We hope to attend to the rest of the shortcomings in the near future, after which the Attorney General can file indictments against suspects,” he added.

The new AG should probe his predecessor’s allegations against the CID as a national priority.

JUSTIN KEPPEITIYAGAMA

jdkgama02@gmail.com



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Opinion

Online education – an alternative

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By Dr. Rasanjalee Abeywickrama

Education is a weapon that can improve one’s life. It is a most important tool that helps to spread knowledge in society, which is a most noteworthy benefit of Education. Furthermore, it acts as a medium that transfers knowledge from one generation to another.

Education helps to boost a country’s economy and society; therefore, it is a milestone of a nation’s development. It offers knowledge and skills to the populace, while shaping the personality of the youth of a nation. Education is generally considered the foundation of society which beckons economic wealth, social prosperity and political stability. Economic and social status depends on individual education, since it contributes to individual capability in managing the quality of life. The main purpose of education is to prepare and qualify them for work, to play their part in a country’s economy, as well as to integrate people into society by teaching them the values and morals of society.

Education, for a child, begins at home. It is a lifelong process and determines the quality of an individual’s life. Education improves one’s knowledge and skills, and develops personality and attitude. Students must be equipped with knowledge and skills which are necessary to participate effectively as members of society and contribute towards the development of shared values and common identity.

The COVID-19 pandemic is still haunting the human race and it will be completing its horrible journey of two years within another five months. It has changed the whole world and lives of each and everyone around the globe. There cannot be anyone who has not been affected by this virus at least once, economically, physically and psychologically. While man is busy planning to go to Mars, this microorganism is busy taking the lives of millions on earth and taking away all the freedom which man had on earth, including the freedom to breathe. While it has affected all the sectors and trades, education is one of the most affected sectors.

There are several ways this virus has affected education. The loss of livelihoods of thousands of parents has caused a financial crisis and education of their kids has been affected, dramatically. Schools remained closed for much of the time, since March 2020. Kids were unable to go to school continuously, at least for one to two months, for over 15 months now. Physical engagement with peer groups and teachers is completely hampered due to shifting to online education, where kids will only be able to talk to each other and to the teacher through a screen which looks so artificial. It does not provide the actual interaction, which is essential, especially for kids in primary grades and early childhood education.

Some kids are at least fortunate enough to gather some knowledge through online platforms as they have access to relevant electronic equipment and network connections. Sadly, kids in low income families are not fortunate enough to obtain such facilities. Some kids who were supposed to be in Grade 1, during the year 2021, have not yet been to school for at least one day, but applications are already called for year 2022 Grade 1 school admissions, which shows how much time, from their early childhood education, has been wasted. This would adversely affect all of them as early childhood education is not solely about developing learning and writing skills, but about social engagement and social development, via engaging in activities with peer groups.

Education should enhance cognitive, social-emotional and behavioural dimensions of learning. It should also ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for all, wherein no one is left behind. This has become a challenging task with the ongoing pandemic situation. Though online education is not the best option, it is the only option available for kids of this generation. But there are many practical issues related to access to laptops, desktops, smartphones and internet connections. In many areas, kids have to climb trees to get internet connections. Huts have been constructed on tree tops to enable kids to follow online classes. Therefore, we need to look for better and more effective ways to continue the education of kids.

The most effective way to handle this issue of online learning, at the moment, is to telecast educational programmes, in the morning or afternoon hours instead of repeat telecasts of teledramas, TV shows or any other entertainment programmes. If all the national TV channels can work towards this, it will offer a practical solution to the problems associated with online education. Since all children are at home these days, it is an efficient way not only to educate them, but also to reduce the damage caused to their brain development due to watching unsuitable content on TV. Even radio stations can help in this regard.

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Opinion

The country they saved

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Many YouTube videos are accessible on the Internet, which show interviews with retired/injured soldiers who were with the Sri Lanka Army during the period 2005-2009. They proudly talk about how they fought, how they got injured, how they re-joined the battle, after recovery, and how they saw their friends and higher officers get killed. Without any sadness in their voices, they show their wounded limbs and blinded eyes. Most of us who were not in the battlefield, too, can be somewhat satisfied by thinking about our much lesser contributions – donation of blood, donation of money towards various funds such as “Api Wenuwen Api” (although not sure what happened to those), helping families of soldiers, etc.  

Many would now feel sad about those injured soldiers and the ones who made the ultimate sacrifice to safeguard this country, when seeing how this country is managed by some politicians, who claim that they were the people who saved this country.

 

B P

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Opinion

Special rules for UK-SL MPs cricket

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The High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to the UK, Saroja Sirisena, responding to a call by the Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, met the Speaker on May 24 at his office at the House of Commons, while the Lion Flag fluttered in front of the House of Commons on the occasion. Our lady diplomat, as per The Island report on 31st May, proposed and, ‘…both agreed that a friendly exchange of cricket between the members of the two Parliaments would be a fine opportunity to celebrate there shared love of cricket.’

Being concerned of the risk of conversion of the gentlemen’s game into a “Parliamentarian’s one”, shall we propose an amended 13-point set of rules applicable only to our legislators.

1. “Scrap retired hurt” phenomenon altogether as they will never dream of ‘retiring’, worse they do not understand what ‘hurt’ means.

2. Out!, and back in the pavilion, can be re-called by the Captain under “National team player” to the middle, to continue batting.

3. Ministers, who rush Bills for speedy enactments are best suited as Pace bowlers, but they will have to compete with ‘swing both-ways’ experts.

4. Talented ‘googley’ bowlers are in abundance, but English MPs are good readers of the googley; more prudent choice would be a specialist ‘Chinamen’, [there is no dearth of them either], further, the opponents do have little experience in facing them and would naturally be extra nervous to hear the first syllable of the word.

5. Sixers should be banned altogether, for they being highly skilled masters of the art will effortlessly hit every ball for a ‘SIX’.

6. Sledging, supported by familiar un-parliamentary vocabulary can be used excessively, as the opponents will not understand them, however, as a precautionary measure, the stump microphone should be disconnected from commentary.

7. Media should be allowed in the field to get voice cuts blaming the opponents, after every bungling by themselves.

8. English team has done their ‘home-work’ using freely available data : will demand free access for Agents of Bookies at the Lanka dressing room, with the idea of winning the game easily. However, such motivation can be countered by displaying 11 ultra-luxury SUVs on the grounds [as prizes for the winners]

9. A special sitting of the House prior to the match, to propose and pass a handsome match-fee for the players, would be an added incentive.

10. To compensate for their lack of experience and knowledge in playing on a level field, a ‘20%’ [a familiar numerical] bonus of runs or wickets can be granted.

11. In fairness to the Englishmen, any attempt to play a Dil-scoop using more familiar hands, minus the bat, should not be allowed.

12. The two field umpires plus 3rd, 4th umpires and match referee should be provided with special security in the event of a loss to the local team.

13. The moment the English side appealed against a Lankan batsmen, before the Umpire delivered his verdict, the bodyguards should rush to the field to prevent untoward incidents happening.

KKSP

 

 

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