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GL: over 500 quarantined AL candidates sat examination



By Shamindra Ferdinando

Education Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris yesterday (6) paid a glowing tribute to all those who had made it possible for the successful conclusion of the GCE Advanced Level examination under extremely difficult conditions due to the unexpected eruption of corona second wave.

Minister Peiris said that the conducting of the examination was a real challenge as the situation gradually deteriorated with the government compelled to bring the entire Western Province under quarantine curfew.

Western Province comprising administrative districts of Colombo, Gampaha and Kalutara was brought under quarantine curfew at midnight on Oct 29.

Responding to The Island queries, Prof. Peiris said that putting off the examination for the second time could have caused major issues. The examination was to be held in August.

The Education Minister said the media coverage during the examination highlighted the fact that the parents of those who sat the examination threw their weight behind the government decision. At one point some interested parties threatened to sabotage the examination over some shortcomings. But, overall everybody supported, the Minister said, adding that all those who contributed to the successful effort could quite rightly be proud of the achievement.

Recalling the difficulties experienced in holding the Year Five Scholarship examination on Oct 11 before the commencement of the Advance Level examination on the following day, Prof. Peiris said on the first day three candidates under quarantine sat the examination. As the epidemic spread, many more were categorized and had to be brought under a special system in place for them to sit the examination, the minister said.

Prof. Peiris said that by the time the examination concluded yesterday, altogether 568 sat the examination while being under quarantine. According to statistics provided by the Media Unit of the Education Ministry, 27 sat for the examination at the Angoda Infectious Diseases Hospital (IDH), one at the hospital at the Panagoda Army cantonment and one at the Mulleriyawa hospital. In addition to them, 12 special centres accommodated students from Minuwangoda, Gampaha, Ja-ela, Seeduwa and Ekala. A total of 362,824 sat the examination.

Prof. Peiris said that government servants went out of their way to make it possible. “We arranged special transport with the support of the SLTB and the Railways Department whereas the staff played a crucial role,” the minister said.

Prof. Peiris said that they faced the daunting task of preventing an outbreak in any of the 2,648 examination centers. “We were concerned about the countrywide situation though curfews were declared in the Western Province and several other police areas in the provinces,” the minister said.

On the last day of the examination nearly 35,000 candidates sat the final paper.



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Foreign force behind Easter Sunday attacks – Sirisena



By Rathindra Kuruwita

A powerful foreign country or an agency was behind the Easter Sunday bombings and the National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) leader Zaharan Hashim, former President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday told the PCoI investigating the Easter Sunday attacks.

“I also do not believe that Zaharan was the leader of that organisation. Because a leader would never have initiated a suicide attack and died during the first wave,” Sirisena said.

The former President also said that Islamic extremism had spread rapidly in the country due to the support extremists received from Muslim politicians.

Sirisena also said that the military and intelligence officials had been demoralised by harassment they suffered during the yahaalanaya administration. This was the reason why local institutions failed to uncover NTJ’s plans. “But this incident is a conspiracy because it appeared that Zaharan was being manipulated by some foreign hand,” the former President said.

The President further said that during the previous administration, UNPers had headed the Ministry of Law and Order for several years that they had significantly weakened the intelligence services. Although he had taken the Ministry of law and Order in the last stages of the yahapalana government, he had not been able to undo the damage the UNP had done in four years, the witness said.

Commissioner: “Did you know that during your tenure as President, Muslim MPs and ministers were forcible acquiring land in Vanni and Batticaloa and they were constructing Muslim villages and mosques there?”

Sirisena: “Some ministers used their political power to clear forests and cultivate lands. Some ministers were angry with me when I tried to stop them. I tried hard to control those actions. But it was difficult for me to deal with that situation. Fundamentalism rose due to the protection given by Muslim political leaders. Certain political parties are based on religion, race and language. This is disastrous. I tried to stop these people but my decisions were not implemented.”



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Bathiudeen granted bail



Former Minister Rishad Bathiudeen was released on bail by the Fort Magistrate’s Court yesterday. Fort Magistrate Priyantha Liyanage released Bathiudeen on cash bail of Rs. 100,000 with two sureties of one million rupees each.

The Magistrate also imposed a travel ban on Bathiudeen and said that the guarantors should be his close relatives.

The Magistrate granted bail to the MP considering the risk of him contracting COVID-19 as two inmates in cells next to his had recently tested positive for coronavirus.

Bathiudeen was remanded in connection with alleged misappropriation of public funds during the last presidential election to transport voters.

The former minister has been accused of misusing 222 buses owned by the SLTB for transporting internally displaced persons from Puttalam to polling stations in Silavathurai, Mannar during the 2019 Presidential Election. Two others, Mohamed Yaseen Samsudeen and Alagarathnam Manoranjan face the same charges.

They have allegedly violated Article 82(1) of Presidential Elections Act, No. 15 of 1981 by misappropriating public funds amounting to Rs. 9.5 million.

Bathiudeen was arrested at an apartment complex at Ebenezer Place in Dehiwala in the early hours of October 19. He was then produced before the court and placed under remand custody. His bail application was also rejected by the magistrate’s court on several occasions



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Zahran supported Sirisena and SLMC at 2015 elections, Hizbullah tells PCoI



By Rathindra Kuruwita

National Thawheed Jamaat (NTJ) and its leader Zahran Hashim supported Former President Maithripala Sirisena and the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) at the 2015 elections, former Eastern Province Governor M.L.A.M Hizbullah, on Tuesday night, told the PCoI probing the Easter Sunday attacks.

Hizbullah was giving evidence before the PCoI for the second day.

“Zahran supported the SLMC at the 2015 general election. After the UNP-led coalition won the election, NTJ members fought with our supporters. Several people were injured during the clash, including Zahran’s brother. SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem visited Zahran’s brother at the hospital.”

The witness also submitted a footage of a demonstration opposite NTJ Headquarters in Kattankudy. It contained a speech by Zahran, who expressed his dismay after Sirisena appointed Hizbullah as a national list MP.

“In this video, Zahran clearly says he supported Maithripala Sirisena at the 2015 presidential election. Zahran also says he sent a fax to the former President, urging him not to appoint me to Parliament.”

However, it was earlier revealed that in 2015, representatives of five recognised political parties, including the UPFA and the UNP, had signed agreements with Zahran in the run-up to the 2015 general election. Representatives of Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC,) Democratic Party, UNP, UPFA and National Front for Good Governance (NFGG), too, had signed agreements with Zahran in exchange for NTJ support, the Commission was told.

Hizbullah, on Monday, admitted that his party had also signed an agreement with the NTJ.

“Zahran told social media that he would support any politician who agreed to his proposals. All the parties joined him. I also went along.”

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