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If not for Ashraff LTTE would have achieved Eelam – Zuhair

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Ashraff memorial meeting in Sammanthurai

Former President J R Jayewardene had, in 1987, merged the Eastern and Northern Provinces under Indian pressure. Then leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) late M.H.M. Ashraff and the Muslims in the country had opposed the merger. They didn’t want to be governed by another minority. Because of the forced merger, new demands of a separate council for Muslims emerged at that time. If not for the SLMC led by Marhoom Ashraff, the LTTE would have achieved its Eelam dream. Eastern Muslims thereby paid a heavy price at the hands of the LTTE in 1989-90 for not supporting the division of the country, President’s Counsel M. M. Zuhair, former Member of Parliament said at the 20th Ashraff memorial meeting held recently at the Abdul Majeed Hall, Sammanthurai, in the Ampara District.

Speaking further, Zuhair said the Muslims of Sri Lanka or the SLMC and its then leader Ashraff never supported separatism or the 30-year LTTE struggle to establish ‘Eelam’. Ashraff and the Muslims were opposed to the division of the country. It was the United Nations that created the first racially based state of ‘Israel’ seven decades ago in multi- ethnic Palestine. There is no place for other races in today’s Israel. It is today a land only for one race. Muslims of Sri Lanka did not want the country divided or to see the creation of a state for one race. Nevertheless Ashraff saw devolution of power as the political answer to the LTTE!  Devolution is the only way today to win over the peace!

The meeting presided by Professor Rameez Abdullah was addressed by Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP M.A. Sumanthiran PC, former MP and Chairman Sammanthurai Pradeshiya Sabha A.M.M. Naushad and Deshamanya Irshad A. Cader. The meeting was organised by the Humanitarian Welfare Council of Sammanthurai and the Deshamanya Irshad A. Cader Welfare Forum of Sammanthurai.

The two major communities, Zuhair said have had their own problems. The failed ‘Christian’ coup of 1961 was an attempt to topple the government unlawfully. In 1971, the then JVP led Sinhala youth rebellion to overawe the government ended in failure. In 1988-9 another Marxist inspired major uprising of Sinhala youth to topple the government through criminal force also ended in failure. Meanwhile the 30-year LTTE war to establish a separate state was also defeated. Muslims were the only community that did not have any role in any of these terrorising events. Ashraff’s patriotic role during the 30 year war will never be forgotten. He was however never opposed to the genuine aspirations of the Tamil people of the country.

Zuhair said M.P. Sumanthiran referred to the need for the unity of the Tamil, Muslim and Sinhala people particularly in the East. Muslims will strongly support such moves. But the Tamil demand for merger had always been the major obstacle to this unity.

Genuine concerns have now emerged regarding the preservation of historical archaeological sites in the country. In Pakistan Taxila and other archaeological sites are protected by the government and the people of Pakistan. In Afghanistan, we tend to forget that the Bamiyan Buddha statues were protected by the Muslims there for over a thousand years. These sites also bring them tourist income.

 The time has come for Muslims in the East to publicly come forward to protect these sites from destruction. This is also a national duty which is also supported by the Holy Quran.  Sura 6 Verse 108 states ‘(Oh believers) Revile not, those whom they worship instead of Allah…’. The reference is to objects of worship. There is a clear Quranic prohibition, apart from the country’s laws, against permitting any form of vandalizing of objects, idols or places of such worship. Of course, archaeological sites are no longer places of worship. It is a national duty by all to protect these sites from damage or destruction, he said.

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Special COVID-19 probe crippled by infections among CCD sleuths: AG calls for new police team

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

Brandix Apparel Limited yesterday (29) said that the company would fully cooperate with relevant authorities in the investigation ordered by the Attorney General (AG). A spokesperson for the company said so when The Island sought a clarification with regard to AG Dappula de Livera, PC, directing the police to launch a criminal investigation into the alleged lapses on the part of the company as well as those officials leading to the devastating COVID-19 outbreak.

The Minuwangoda eruption, which happened in the first week of October is widely believed to be the cause of the fast expanding Peliyagoda cluster.

Asked whether the police had contacted the Brandix management as regards the investigation and sought access to Brandix management and workers at its Minuwangoda apparel manufacturing facility as well as records at the Minuwangoda facility, the spokesperson said: “We will work with the relevant authorities in this regard”.

The Colombo Crime Division (CCD) tasked with the probe has suffered a serious setback due to a section of its officers being tested positive for COVID-19. Authoritative sources said that the CCD lacked sufficient strength to carry out the investigation.

AG de Livera early this week told DIG Ajith Rohana that a progress report should be submitted to him by or before Nov. 13.

Sources said that the badly depleted CCD was not in a position to conduct the high-profile investigation, in addition to other ongoing inquiries. The AG has directed the Acting IGP to constitute a special team of law enforcement officers to conduct the investigation. Sources acknowledged the urgent need for a thorough inquiry into the far worse second corona wave. Sources said that the AG issued fresh instructions in that regard after the crisis in the CCD was brought to his notice.

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Most garment workers under self-quarantine left to fend for themselves

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

A large number of garment workers who were undergoing self-quarantine in Minuwangoda did not receive any assistance, Chamila Thushari of the Dabindu Collective, a labour organisation that works with garment workers, told The Island yesterday.

She said that those who were under self-quarantine did not have money to purchase food and even those who were willing to help could not reach them.

“Some of them have received food parcels from their work places but that is not adequate. Most others have not received any assistance. Matters will only get worse after curfew is imposed throughout the Western Province,” Thushari said.

Most of these workers are undergoing self-quarantine at their boarding places, which also house individuals who still work in garment factories. “Although there is a curfew, they can go to work. These are perfect incubators for the virus,” she said.

Thushari said that every day between 20-30 workers under self-quarantine, tested positive for COVID-19.

There were no public health inspectors to monitor the boarding houses of garment workers to ensure that COVID-19 prevention measures were being followed, she said.

“Not even Grama Niladaris visit them,” Chamila said.

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SJB requests separate seats for its dissidents

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Chief Opposition Whip and Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella has written to Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena requesting him to make arrangements to provide separate seats to the nine MPs who had voted with the government for the 20th Amendment to the Constitution recently.

The letter dated yesterday said that the SJB parliamentary group had decided to expel MPs Diana Gamage, A. Aravind Kumar, Ishak Rahuman, Faisal Cassim, H. M. M. Haris, M.S. Thowfeeq, Nazeer Ahmed, A.A.S.M. Raheem and S.M.M. Musharaf and it requests the Speaker to make separate seating arrangements for these MPs in the Chamber.

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