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Indian aircraft contingent here to celebrate SLAF 70th anniversary

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Indian Air Force planes have arrived in Sri Lanka to take part in an aerobatic display at Galle Face.

The Sri Lanka Air Force is celebrating its 70th Anniversary today March 02 and the presentation of the President’s Colours to the No. 5 Fighter Squadron and No. 6 Helicopter Squadron of the Sri Lanka Air Force.

 To commemorate this historical event, a fly past and an aerobatic display is also being organised for the first time in Sri Lanka on a grand scale at Galle Face from March 03 to 05, Indian High Commission in Colombo said in a release yesterday.

 It said: As a gesture of solidarity, and in keeping with years of close interaction and camaraderie between the two countries and their militaries, Indian Air Force (IAF) and Indian Navy will participate in the event with an aerobatic display by Sarang (Advance Light Helicopter), Surya Kiran (Hawks), Tejas Fighter Aircraft, Tejas Trainer and the Dornier Maritime Patrol Aircraft. A total of 23 aircraft of the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy would participate in the grand event.

 The detachment for the Aerobatic Display arrived in Colombo on 27 February, with the support of C17 Globe Master and C130J transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force.

The deployment of such wide variety and huge inventory of aircraft and helicopters of IAF and Indian Navy is testimony to the strong bonds of friendship and close interoperability shared between the corresponding forces of India and Sri Lanka services, the Indian High Commission in Colombo said.

All the Indian aircraft on display are made in India and as such represent the indigenous technical prowess of Indian research and development sector and reliability of products of India’s Defence Industry.

Tejas Trainer, on display for the first time, would also afford the opportunity of independent sorties for the Sri Lanka Air Force Pilots, accompanied with the Indian Pilots whilst adhering to relevant strict health guidelines.

During the deployment, the officers from the Sri Lanka Air Force and Sri Lanka Navy will also have firsthand experience onboard the Indian Navy’s Maritime Patrol Aircraft Dornier. Sri Lanka Air Force pilots and Sri Lanka Navy observers will fly along with the Indian crew. This is in continuation of the half yearly Dornier training sorties being facilitated for SLAF/ SLN.

Sri Lanka is ‘Priority One’ partner for Indian in the sphere of Defence. The assurance of India’s fullest cooperation in the field of Defence and security was recently reiterated to Sri Lanka’s leadership by the National Security Adviser of India Ajit Doval during his visit to Sri Lanka for the trilateral Maritime Security Cooperation talks among India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives hosted by Sri Lanka in November 2020.

The Indian High Commission in Colombo said that the participation of IAF and Indian Navy aircraft and personnel in the 70th Anniversary celebration of SLAF is indicative of the growing cooperation, camaraderie and friendship between the Armed Forces of the two nations.



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AG says no legal impediment to Bathiudeen attending Parliament

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Public Security Minister: Those detained under PTA shouldn’t be allowed in

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Attorney General Dappula de Livera, PC, says there is no legal impediment to Opposition MP Rishad Bathiudeen attending Parliament while being detained in terms of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).

The CID arrested the leader of the All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) in the early hours of April 24 for aiding and abetting the 2019 Easter Sunday suicide bombers.

Multiple blasts in different locations killed 270 people and wounded about 500.

The AG set the record straight in the wake of the CID failing to arrange for MP Bathiudeen to attend Parliament on May 4 and 5.

The Island learns that Police Headquarters recently consulted the AG as regards the legality of the Vanni District SJB MP attending parliamentary sessions and the SJB, on his behalf, requested the Speaker to facilitate the arrangements.

The ACMC contested the last general election on the SJB ticket. Its parliamentary group comprises four, including Bathiudeen.

The police sought the AG’s advice after having received a missive from Serjeant at arms Narendra Fernando in that regard. The AG has advised the police that MP Bathiudeen could attend parliamentary sessions.

However, Public Security Minister Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera has advised the police against the ACMC leader attending Parliament. The Minister has issued instructions in this regard having requested the Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to prevent those detained under the PTA from attending parliament.

MP Bathiudeen has been detained for a period of 90 days pending investigations. His brother Riyajj too has been detained under PTA for 90 days.

 Minister Weerasekera, in Parliament yesterday (5) defended his decision to prevent MP Bathiudeen from attending parliament. Dismissing concerns raised by SJB MP Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka and TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran about the ACMC leader being deprived of his right to attend parliament sessions, Minister Weerasekera emphasized that he was responsible for public security.

Minister Weerasekera reminded Speaker Abeywardena that he had requested him not to allow anyone detained under PTA to attend parliament pending conclusion of investigations.

Weerasekera said that the CID wouldn’t have detained the MP concerned without valid reasons.

Perhaps, Field Marshal Fonseka had no concerns for public security, the former Navy Chief of Staff said, emphasising that the government wouldn’t conduct investigations the way the former Army Commander and the TNA spokesman desired.

Bathiudeen earlier served in the Cabinets of President Mahinda Rajapaksa (2010-2014) and President Maithripala Sirisena (2015-2019). The ACMC switched its allegiance to SJB at the 2020 August parliamentary election after having backed Sajith Premadasa’s candidature at the 2019 presidential.

Bathiudeens’ lawyer Rushdhie Habeeb told The Island that the decision to prevent MP Bathiudeen from attending parliament was political. Habeeb said that the issue at hand would be raised vigorously, both here and abroad, and a media briefing would be called soon to explain the situation.

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MONLAR draws attention to ticking COVID time bomb in plantations

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

A large number of estate workers had been diagnosed with COVID-19, and given the generally congested living environment and lack of health facilities on plantations, the entire estate sector was a ticking time bomb, Moderator of the Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR) Chinthaka Rajapakshe said yesterday.

Rajapakshe told The Island  that the latest outbreak on the estates had occurred after the return of some persons from Colombo during the Sinhala and Tamil New Year.

“We had warned that this would happen. People kept on returning home although the preparedness of the plantation economy to face a COVID-19 outbreak was non-existent.”

 “If one person gets it, the entire line will get it, and therefore urgent steps should be taken to minimise COVID-19 spread,” Rajapakshe said, adding that such an eventuality would not only destroy lives but also cripple the plantation sector, causing an enormous loss to the state coffers.

 

 

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Clandestine dealings of fishers will precipitate spread of deadly Indian variant here – Expert

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

There was a risk of the deadly Indian COVID-19 variant spreading to Sri Lanka as well, Chief Epidemiologist of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Sudath Samaraweera told the media yesterday in Colombo.

Dr. Samaraweera said that Sri Lankan fishermen continued to interact with their Indian counterparts in mid-sea and therefore it was only a matter of time before the Indian variant entered Sri Lanka.

“We must be extremely vigilant. We have seen the devastation caused by this variant in India. These mid-sea interactions by the fishing community must be stopped.”

Dr. Samaraweera added that although the Dambulla Economic Centre

had been reopened for business yesterday morning, health officials had been compelled to close five shops as their owners violated the Covid-19 protocol.    

“This is a commercial hub where people from all parts of the country converge. So, if there are COVID-19 cases here, then it will spread across the country. Therefore, people have to act carefully and responsibly.”

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