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IGP lodges complaint against Chamuditha over disparaging comments on govt.



By Shamindra Ferdinando

Hiru anchor Chamuditha Samarawickrema has been told he was under investigation for undermining the government’s reputation.

After being summoned to the Colombo Crime Division (CCD), recently Samarawickrema had been asked to furnish a statement in respect of his controversial comments on a government move to import 100,000 kgs of ‘ponni’ rice after having repeatedly claimed that it was having a surplus of the staple, mismanagement of the ongoing Covid-19 vaccination drive and the rescinding of a decision to give Pfizer vaccine as the second dose to those who had received Oxford AstraZeneca  (Covishield) first shot.

The former Media Director to President Maithripala Sirisena told The Island that he had declined to do so as he was not forewarned by the police as regards such an investigation when he reported to the CCD as requested.  Samarawickrema said that he believed the CCD summoned him to record a second statement as regards his complaint pertaining to an alleged threat to his life following strong criticism of the police handling makeup artist Chandimal Jayasinghe having a party at the Shangri-La in violation of Covid-19 health guidelines.

The CCD had initiated an inquiry following a complaint received from IGP C. D. Wickremaratne.

Samarawickrema said that as far as he was aware, no TV presenter had ever been investigated for comments made on a live programme.

The police have shown Samarawickrema video footage of three statements in question made on Hiru morning show ‘Paththare Visthare’ in the recent past.

The police have put off recording Samarawickrema’s statement though he was to be questioned last Wednesday (14) at the CCD having been earlier summoned on July 09. The police have informed Samarawickrema that he would be notified when to appear at the CCD, Dematagoda.

Samarawickrema said that he was quite disappointed those in authority found fault with the media for simply taking up issues on behalf of the hapless public.

Media Minister and co-cabinet spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella recently told The Island that he consulted lawyers as regards Sirasa telecasts in particular and overall television reportage of various developments as the media couldn’t be allowed to abuse the freedom they enjoyed. The Minister said that the government respected the rights of the media though some sections obviously abused the print, electronic and social media.

Samarawickrema pointed out that the three issues the police wanted to question him had received the attention of independent media.  Samarawickrema said that the media questioned Trade Minister Bandula Gunawardena’s declaration of planned rice imports as the Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage was on record as having said he wouldn’t need rice imports. Aluthgamage declared that he was having a surplus of rice for the consumption of the local market. Samarawickrema said that the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) sought an explanation from the Director General of Health Services (DGHS) over serious lapses on the part of those responsible for the vaccination drive.

Referring to a recent The Island report, Samarawickrema said that the HRCSL alleged that DGHS didn’t even bother to respond to its request. The media from time to time exposed corruption, irregularities and nepotism in the vaccination programme though health and military authorities worked hard to achieve targets. Inoculation of hundreds of outsiders over a period of two days at Galle were case in point, Samarawickrema said, such shortcomings had been admitted in parliament by State Minister Prof. Channa Jayasumana. Subsequently, two senior doctors were moved out of Galle and now a case was being heard in that regard, Samarawickrema said.

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Shocking 17,500 video clips of Lankan children being sexually abused



By Norman Palihawadane

There were over 17,500 video clips of Sri Lankan children being sexually abused, on the Internet and action had been taken to arrest those responsible, Police Spokesman Senior DIG Ajith Rohana said yesterday. The Sri Lanka Police had sought the assistance of international law enforcement agencies and the Internet service providers to track down the persons involved in uploading those video clips and child sex trafficking via internet, the SDIG said.

Crimes against children in Sri Lanka were rising at an alarming speed, the SDIG said.

The police would conduct a special awareness programme together with the National Child Protection Authority to curb the alarming trend, he said.

The first programme was held recently in Nuwara Eliya where it especially focused apprising police officers attached to that Division.

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Private buses to insist that inter-provincial commuters carry proof of vaccination?



By Rathindra Kuruwita

A limited number of Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) and National Transport Commission (NTC) buses and trains would maintain limited inter- provincial operation from 01 August, State Minister of Transport, Dilum Amunugma said.

The State Minister said that certified documents issued by the respective depot superintendents and the letters of approval by the NTC were mandatory, he added.

“The buses and trains will be permitted to operate only in the morning and in the evening for office workers,” Amunugma said.

The State Minister added that passengers should behave responsibly when using the inter-provincial transport services and understand that those services were only for commuters engaged in essential services.

“The Delta variant is spreading rapidly. If one infected passenger travels in a bus, all other commuters will contract it” he warned.

The Lanka Private Bus Owners’ Association (LPBOA) has decided to make proof of vaccination compulsory for inter provincial travel from 01 August

LPBOA President Gemunu Wijeratne said they had written to the President and Transport Minister asking for permission to enforce it.

Wijeratne said that all bus operators in the Western Province should ensure they were inoculated by August 15.



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TNA Leader complains against appointing Sinhala officers to Tamil areas



By Dinasena Ratugamage

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Leader, R. Sampanthan had written to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa, objecting to the appointment of Sinhala government officers to the Northern Province, former TNA MP Mavai Senathirajah told journalists on Wednesday (28.)

The President and the Prime Minister are appointing officials violating democratic principles, Senathirajah said after a meeting of party activists at Karachchi Divisional Secretariat Office, Kilinochchi.

“A lot of Sinhalese are appointed to the North and the East. They must appoint Tamils. These appointments undermine our struggle for a just language policy,” he said.

Senathirajah said that it was customary to appoint Tamil officers to Tamil majority areas. However, this tradition was being violated increasingly in recent times, the former MP said.

“The TNA has nothing against Sinhala government officers. However, appointing Sinhala state officers to majority Tamil areas is a great injustice to the people. So, our leader has written to the President and the Prime Minister asking them to stop this practice,” he said.

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