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Half a mn doses of Covishield vaccines made in India arriving in Colombo today

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BY S VENKAT NARAYAN

Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, January 27:

A gift of half a million doses of Oxford-Astrazeneca’s Covishield vaccines manufactured in India will arrive in Colombo on Thursday by a special Air India flight. The vaccines are being sent under the Indian Government’s VaccineMaitri (VaccineFriendship).

The vaccines are packed in tailor-made boxes, and will be ceremonially handed over to Sri Lankan authorities by Indian High Commissioner Gopal Baglay at the Bandaranaiake International Airport, the High Commission said in a press release. 

The consignment of COVISHIELD vaccines arrives in Sri Lanka on the auspicious Duruthu Poya Day. Baglay will pray at the sacred Gangaramaya Temple for the health and well-being of the people of Sri Lanka on the Day.

He will also seek the blessings of Ven. Dr. Kirinde Assaji Thero. As per the Buddhist traditions in India and Sri Lanka, the High Commissioner will offer meals to devotees at the Temple.

Incidentally, Baglay had first arrived in Sri Lanka to take up his assignment in the Vesak Week in May 2019 with 12.5 tons of medical supplies as gift by India to Sri Lanka for fighting COVID-19 pandemic.  

Oxford-Astrazeneca’s COVISHIELD vaccine is manufactured by Serum Institute of India (SII) in Pune in Maharashtra state. This has been approved for emergency use by Government of Sri Lanka. 

The gift from India is keeping in line with India’s continued support to Sri Lanka in fighting the COVID pandemic. Four consignments of medical supplies weighing around 25 tonnes were donated by India, which also organised online experience-sharing programmes for Sri Lankan medical professionals.

The two partners have also put up a joint front in the COVID-19 battle with India and Sri Lanka being the largest contributors to the COVID-19 Emergency Fund for SAARC. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had complimented Sri Lanka’s leadership on containing the pandemic. 

Guided by ‘Neighbourhood First’ and SAGAR policies, India has so far gifted about five million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to neighbouring countries, and those in the Gulf and Indian Ocean since 20 January 2021. 

Millions of doses of made-in-India COVID vaccines have also been exported to countries as far away as Latin America and West Asia, and will continue to reach those in the Caribbean and the Pacific too.

In September 2020, Prime Minister Modi told the UN that India’s vaccine capacity will be used to help all humanity fight the COVID pandemic. India, which is called the ‘Pharmacy of the World’, supplied essential medicines to fight COVID-19 to 150 countries, more than half of it as a gift.

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SLFP: PCoI has exceeded its mandate and failed to address critical issues

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

President Maithripala Sirisena appointed the PCoI on Easter Sunday Attacks to identify local and international forces behind the attacks, establish the motives of those groups and to punish those who were directly and indirectly responsible for the attacks, but those issues had not been addressed by the PCoI’s final report, the SLFP said yesterday.

 SLFP General Secretary, Dayasiri Jayasekera said that the party’s Executive Committee had discussed the report in depth on Thursday and decided that the Commission had not addressed the issues it had been appointed to probe.

On the other hand, some of its recommendations have gone beyond its mandate.

Issuing a press release, the SLFP said that while the PCoI observed that former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had been soft on Islamic extremism and his government had not taken active steps in combating extremism, however, the PCoI had treated Wickremesinghe with kid gloves while taking a tough stance on former President Maithripala Sirisena.

 “The former President took over the Ministry of Law and Order on 30 October 2018, i.e. only five months and twenty days before the attacks. None of those who held the post before have been accused of anything. The report also focuses little on those who planned the attacks, those who financed the attacks and those who protected the attackers. Moreover, although there is evidence to prove that the weapons found in Muslim mosques after the attacks had been brought in by ships; the report had not investigated it in-depth,” the SLFP said.

 The party also said Pulastini Rajendran alias Sara Jasmine, the wife of Mohommadu Hastun, a suicide bomber, had fled to India sometime after the attacks. However, the Commission had not only paid any attention to it but also had ignored what could have been found.

 “The mandate set by President Sirisena says to look at current or former state officials who are directly or indirectly linked to these incidents. There is no mandate for the Commission to look into whether the head of the state or ministers have fulfilled their constitutional duties. Thus, the recommendations on the former President are beyond the PCoI’s mandate. The pages 292 and 293 of the report state that President Sirisena had instructed the Police to arrest NTJ leader Zahran Hashim at the National Security Council. However, they also insist that the former President had not carried out its duties and responsibilities. Page 296 says that the former President not appointing an acting Defence Minister when he left for India and Singapore was a violation of the Constitution. However, in another place the Commissioners say that making such appointments is at the President’s discretion,” the SLFP said in a press release.

 The SLFP also states that the former President had carried out his duties and the report has ample evidence of it. Thus, there is no way that criminal proceedings can be instituted against him.

 “The concept that criminal proceedings can be instituted against a President for not carrying out some duty sets a bad precedent and is a slight to the power given to the President by the Constitution. The US and New Zealand security agencies had received information about 9/11 and the Christchurch shootings but the heads of the states were not charged. We vehemently refuse the allegations against the former President and reject many of the other recommendations too.”

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Dubai haven for majority of Lankan fugitives with INTERPOL red notices

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By Pradeep Prasanna Samarakoon

Police had obtained INTERPOL Red Notices against 24 drug traffickers hiding overseas, police spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana said.

In addition, DIG Rohana said INTERPOL blue notices had been issued for 87 wanted criminals who were currently residing overseas.

The DIG said a majority of the suspects were reported to be hiding in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, while some were in neighbouring India and European countries.

The country’s law enforcement agencies had seized over 1,610 kilos of heroin in 2020 alone, the DIG noted, adding that last year 33,125 suspects had been arrested for possessing heroin and 1,400 others for having in their possession synthetic drugs.

About 61,550 persons had been arrested for narcotic-related offences, in 2020, said the Police Spokesperson, noting that intelligence reports had suggested there was a shortage of heroin in the local drug market due to continuous raids carried out by law enforcement authorities. That had led to a rise in the use of synthetic drugs, such as ICE, he added.

INTERPOL assistance had been sought to extradite 129 Lankans wanted for various crimes, he said.

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Organise State Vesak festival at Nagadeepa with those of other religions- PM 

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Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa who is also the Minister of Buddhasasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs has instructed authorities to hold this year’s State Vesak Festival at the Nagadeepa Raja Maha Viharaya in Jaffna focusing on the Northern and Eastern Provinces.

The Prime Minister at a meeting held at Temple Trees on Thursday evening had given instructions to the Secretary to the Ministry of Buddhasasana, Cultural and Religious Affairs Prof Kapila Gunawardena to organize the State Vesak Festival together with those following other religions.

Accordingly, the Departments of Hindu, Christian and Muslim Affairs under the Ministry of Buddha Sasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs, will join in the efforts to organize the event.

Among those present were Sanghanayake of the Northern Province Chief Incumbent of the Nagadeepa Vihara Ven Dr. Dharmakeerthi Sri Navadagala Padaumakitthi Nayaka Thera, Sanghanayake of the Eastern and Thamankaduwa Ven Munhene Mettharama thera, Sanghanayake of the Matara-Hambantota districts Adrahere Kassapa Nayaka thera, State Minister Vidura Wickramanayake, MP Suren Raghawan and officials of the Ministry of Buddha Sasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs.

 

 

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