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Ishalini’s death: 35 arrested, more arrests likely



By Norman Palihawadane

Police have so far recorded statements from 35 people with regard to the death of 16-year-old Jude Kumar Ishalini at the residence of former Minister Rishad Bathiudeen. More arrests were likely, according to police.

Police headquarters sources said that the wife and father-in-law of Bathiudeen, as well as a broker who brought the teenager to the Bathiudeens, had been arrested over the incident.

The brother-in-law of Bathiudeen was arrested over a separate rape incident said to have taken place at Bathiudeen’s official residence when he was a minister.

Several police teams had been deployed to investigate the incident, Police said.

Police spokesman Senior DIG Ajith Rohana said the police would continue to report facts to the court and would take all measures to bring the perpetrators to justice.

At the age of 15, Ishalini was sent to work as a domestic aide at Badurdeen’s Colombo residence and a week ago she was admitted to the hospital with burns and succumbed to her injuries while being treated for serious burns at the Colombo National Hospital for 12 days.

The suspects were produced on Saturday before Colombo Additional Magistrate Kanchana Neranjana de Silva, who permitted them to be detained for 48 hours for questioning.

The Additional Magistrate also ordered that they be produced before court today (26)

It was revealed in court on Saturday that a broker residing in the Dayagama area who is currently in custody had provided 11 children as domestic aides to various members of the family of former Minister Bathiudeen.

Deputy Solicitor General Dileepa Peiris told the Court that the death of 16-year-old Ishalini, who worked as a maid at the suspect’s house, was a tragedy.

The Deputy Solicitor General said that a network was in operation to provide children from poverty stricken families faced with economic hardships, to rich families. Those innocent children were then made to serve as domestics of rich families.

The forensic medical report on the death of the girl has revealed that she had been sexually assaulted.

DSG Peiris said that the girl had come to work as a maid to pay off a loan of Rs. 30,000 taken by her mother.

According to the Deputy Solicitor General the incident was a good example of the modern child slave trade.

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Central Bank urged to save collapsing local industries



The National Freedom Front (NFF) has requested the immediate intervention of the Governor of the Central Bank Ajith Nivard Cabraal to save micro, small and medium scale industries badly affected by the current economic downturn caused by the Covid-19.

The NFF parliamentary group comprises six members, including one National List.

Industries Minister Wimal Weerawansa, on behalf of the SLPP constituent parties, has warned of steep increase in unemployment, drop in the contribution made by small and medium scale industries to the national economy and the further widening of the gap between the rich and poor.

Party sources told The Island that the NFF had decided to take up the urgent matter because, in spite of repeated promises, those who had been severely affected were yet to receive assistance. Minister Weerawansa has urged the Central Bank to restructure loans obtained by affected industries and also extend the moratorium.

Weerawansa has in a letter dated Oct.18, told Cabraal that according to a survey conducted by the Industrial Development Board, micro, small and medium enterprises suffered serious setbacks. However, of the loans made available through the banking sector, a substantial segment had been disbursed among major players, the Minister said, while pointing out that in other countries in the region more than 50 percent of total loans were made available to micro, small and medium industries.

Unfortunately, here in Sri Lanka they received approximately 15 percent of the total given as loans, the minister said.

Minister Weerawansa said that though industries suffered, almost all state and private banks had recorded much improved performances with significant profits.

The Minister said that following his intervention with the cabinet of ministers, the government agreed on a plan of action to deal with the situation. It would be the responsibility of the Central Bank to implement the agreed proposals, he said.


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So far no side effects among Pfizer vaccinated 15,000 A/L students



By Rathindra Kuruwita

Over 15,000 GCE AL students had been vaccinated with Pfizer and there had not been any side effects, Colombo District Director of Health Dr. Dilip Liyanage told the media yesterday.

He said that the Ministry of Education had given them a list of 20,688 that needed to be vaccinated.

“We would like to assure parents that there is no need to worry. Over 15,000 children have been vaccinated and there have been no problems so far. Trust the health professionals and vaccinate your child at the first opportunity you get,” he said.

Dr. Liyanage added that children who missed their chance to get vaccinated on weekdays, can get vaccinated at the MOH office near their home.

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Govt. approves prohibition of cattle slaughter



The government has approved the prohibition of cattle slaughter. The decision was announced at the weekly Cabinet meeting at the Information Department yesterday (19). The government said the relevant laws and regulations, including those passed by Local Government authorities would be amended for that purpse.

The Legal Draftsman has drafted Bills to amend the following acts and ordinances.

• Authority 272 of the Cattle Slaughter Ordinance No. 9 of 1893

• Act No. 29 of 1958 Concerning Animals

• Municipal Councils Ordinance – Section 252

• Section 255 of the Municipal Councils Ordinance

• Ordinance No. 15 of the Urban Council Act of 1987

The Attorney General has certified that the said Bills do not clash with the provisions of the Constitution.

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