By Rathindra Kuruwita
The National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) or its leader Zahran Hashim had no link to ISIS and the Easter Sunday attacks had been masterminded by another force that wanted to destabilise the country, SLMC Leader MP Rauff Hakeem, on Monday, told the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) investigating the Easter Sunday attacks.
Testifying before the Commission the witness said that those behind the attack had achieved their final objective of destabilising the country.
“The NTJ used the ISIS banner just for namesake and the group was used as pawns. The Easter Sunday attacks were a one-off incident. Such an attack will not happen again.”
The commissioners then asked Hakeem to reveal who is thought was behind the attack. Hakeem said that he would reveal that information in camera.
Hakeem also said that the SLMC had no political agreements with NTJ leader Zahran Hashim during the 2015 general election.
“People want to link SLMC with Zahran but we never had such an association with him,” he said.
The Commissioners also questioned Hakeem on visiting the NTJ mosque and Zahran’s brother Rilwan Hashim in hospital following a clash on August 21, 2015.
Hakeem said that as a political leader he met many people every day and not everyone was known to him. He had visited several persons who were injured during a clash in Kattankudy, he added.
Hakeem said he had visited the NTJ mosque, after going to hospital, to inspect the damages, and Zahran had been present there. “At that time, Zahran had not even established a group named NTJ and that mosque was in a small hut,” he said.
Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’
By Norman Palihawadane and Ifham Nizam
The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) yesterday arrested six suspects in the Sapugaskanda Rathgahawatta area with more than 100 kilos of Crystal Methamphetamine also known as Ice.
Police Media Spokesman, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ajith Rohana told the media that the PNB sleuths, acting on information elicited from a suspect in custody had found 91 packets of Ice.
A man in possession of 100 kilos of heroin was arrested in Modera during the weekend and revealed that a haul of Ice had been packed in plastic boxes.
The PNB seized more than 114 kilos of Ice from the possession of a single drug network.
According to the information elicited from the suspects, more than 100 kilos of Ice were found.
The PNB also arrested six persons including two women with 13 kilos of Ice, during an operation carried out in the Niwandama area in Ja-Ela on Sunday.
DIG Rohana said the ice had been packed in small plastic boxes and hidden in two school bags.
PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners
By Norman Palihawadane
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that he was confident that differences among the constituents of the SLPP coalition as regards the May Day celebrations and the next Provincial Council elections could be ironed out soon.
Leaders of all SLPP allied parties have been invited to a special meeting to be held at Temple Trees with the PM presiding on April 19.
Prime Minister Rajapaksa said it was natural for members of a political alliance to have their own standpoints and views on matters of national importance. “This is due to the different political ideologies and identities. It is not something new when it comes to political alliances world over. In a way, it shows that there is internal democracy within our alliance.
The PM said: “As a result of that the allied parties may express their own views on issues, but that does not mean there is a threat to the unity of the alliance. An alliance is more vibrant and stronger not when all the parties think on the same lines but when the member parties have different ideologies.”
Thilo Hoffman remembered
A copy of the book “Politics of a Rainforest: Battles to save Sinharaja” was handed over to Dominik Furgler, the Swiss Ambassador in Sri Lanka by the author of the book, Dr. Prasanna Cooray at the Swiss Embassy in Colombo last Tuesday, to be sent to the family of the late Thilo Hoffman in Switzerland.
Hoffman, a Swiss national, who made Sri Lanka his second home for six decades, was a pioneering environmental activist who led the battles to save Sinharaja from the front in the early 1970s, abreast with the likes of Iranganie Serasinghe, Kamanie Vitharana, Lynn De Alwis and Nihal Fernando of the “Ruk Rekaganno” fame. That was the era when the trees of Sinharaja were felled for the production of plywood by the then government. Hoffman was also a livewire of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) for a long time. Hoffman died in 2014 at the age of 92.
The book includes a chapter on Thilo Hoffman.
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