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LTTE revival connection under investigation over recent Indian drug haul

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BY S VENKAT NARAYAN  
Our Special Correspondent

EW DELHI, October 15: A Pakistan-based drug lord has come under the scanner for allegedly trying to revive the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Sri Lanka. The funding for it appears to be through the supply and sale of large quantities of heroin in India.The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) recently seized 200kg of heroin worth INR 12 billion off the Kerala coast, allegedly linked to a Pakistan-based drug cartel owned by Haji Salim, Indian officials said.

Salim’s name first surfaced during investigations by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in July this year, when the agency said that Salim, along with Sri Lankan drug mafia don C Gunashekharan alias Guna and Pushparajah alias Pookutti Kanna, were pushing illegal drugs and arms into India using the sea route for reviving the LTTE.The agency is also investigating the seizure of arms and the arrest of two youths by the Tamil Nadu police. The accused were inspired by the LTTE, and wanted to wage an armed struggle in Tamil Nadu too, according to the police.

After taking over the probe from the Tamil Nadu police, the NIA claimed to have seized from the arrested youths photographs of LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, invoices for the purchase of materials used for manufacturing of illegal firearms, ammunition and explosive substances, seeds for making poison and jungle survival kits.

After the seizure of heroin, the NCB found links to Salim’s drug cartel. “The seized packets had markings and packing specialities unique to Afghan- and Pakistan-based drug cartels. While some of the drug packets had ‘Scorpiaon’ seal markings, the others had ‘dragon’ seal markings. They had water-proof, seven-layered packing.

The drugs were partially meant for Sri Lanka and India, and were being smuggled using an Iranian boat and crew. Six Iranians were arrested and booked under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, according to the NCB.

According to NCB sources, the drugs were sourced from Afghanistan and transported to Pakistan. They said: “The consignment was then loaded on to the seized vessel off the Pakistan coast in a mid-sea exchange. The vessel then set sail to Indian waters for delivery to another Sri Lankan vessel, but the Sri Lankan vessel could not be tracked.”

“The southern route for trafficking of heroin from Afghanistan to the Markan coast of Iran and Pakistan, and then to various countries in the Indian Ocean, including India, has gained prominence over the last few years,” the NCB said.



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Coordinated assistance program supported by multilateral financial institutions is required for Sri Lanka’s recovery – WB, ADB, IMF, AIIB

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World Bank (WB), Asian Development Bank (ADB), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) representatives decided that a coordinated assistance program supported by the multilateral financial institutions is required for Sri Lanka to recover from the economic crisis the country is currently facing.

They reached the agreement following a lengthy round table discussion held today (06) with President Ranil Wickremesinghe in Colombo where the latter presented Sri Lanka’s development program associated with the economic recovery and growth along with the vision for long term development. The President presented the program at the round table discussion in his capacity as the Minister of Finance, Economic Stabilization and National Policies

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Implementation of the National Environmental Action Plan for the period of 2022 – 2030

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Approval was granted at the meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers held on 20.06.2022 for the National Environmental Policy. Accordingly, the Ministry of Environment has prepared the National Environmental Action Plan for the period of 2022 – 2030 with the contribution of all relevant parties by paying attention on the environmental challenges in the twenty first century as well as considering the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations in order to implement the National Environmental Policy. The Cabinet of Ministers approved the resolution furnished by the Minister of Environment to implement the said action plan, to take policy decisions at national level in that connection and to establish the consolidated environment and development policy committee with the chairing of the Secretary to the President for monitoring the same.

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Cabinet reshuffle, appointment of more ministers on the cards

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President Wickremesinghe

By Shamindra Ferdinando

President Ranil Wickremesinghe will appoint 12 new Cabinet ministers soon after the final vote on his maiden budget, according to sources.

The vote is scheduled to be held on 08 Dec.

Sources say that the SLPP has recommended ministerial portfolios for 10 of its members whereas UNP National List MP Wajira Abeywardena and SLFP’s Duminda Dissanayake, too, are expected to receive Cabinet positions. Abeywardena is the only UNPer in the current Parliament.

In terms of the Constitution, the Cabinet of Ministers has been restricted to 30 and State Ministers/Deputy Ministers to 40. However, the possibility of the government seeking to make the remaining appointments on a staggered basis and a Cabinet reshuffle, too, couldn’t be ruled out, sources said.

The SLPP would vote for the final vote on the basis of an agreement with the President regarding Cabinet appointments, sources said. The debate on the Second Reading of the Appropriation Bill commenced on Nov 15.

Having comfortably defeated Dullas Alahapperuma at the presidential contest on July 20, President Wickremesinghe appointed an 18-member Cabinet on July 22. The group included new Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena. They were sworn in on July 22 in their old portfolios with the only change being the exit for Foreign Minister G.L. Pieris who seconded Dallas Alahapperuma for President in Parliament.

The group consisted of Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena – Public Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial Councils, and Local Government; Douglas Devananda – Fisheries, Susil Premajayantha – Education, Bandula Gunawardena – Transport, Highways, and Media, Keheliya Rambukwella – Health and Water

Supply, Mahinda Amaraweera – Agriculture, Wildlife, and Forest Conservations, Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe – Justice, Prisons, and Constitutional Reforms, Harin Fernando – Tourism and Lands, Ramesh Pathirana – Plantations and Industries, Prasanna Ranatunga – Urban Development and Housing, Ali Sabry – External Affairs, Vidura Wickramanayake – Buddha Sasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs, Kanchana Wijesekera – Power and Energy, Nazeer Ahamed – Environment, Roshan Ranasinghe – Sports, Youth Affairs, and Irrigation, Manusha Nanayakkara – Labour and Foreign Employment, Tiran Alles – Public Security, and Nalin Fernando – Trade, Commerce and Food Security.

Except for Douglas Devananda (EPDP), Mahinda Amaraweera (SLFP), Harin Fernando (SJB), Nazeer Ahamed (SLMC) and Manusha Nanayakkara (SJB), all others are SLPP members.

Sources said that the finalization of cabinet appointments couldn’t be further delayed. Sources acknowledged that the SLPP was determined to finalize the process against the backdrop of the main Opposition SJB declining to join the government. President Wickremesinghe, in addition to holding defence and finance portfolios, serves as minister of Investment Promotion, Technology and Women, Child Affairs and Social Empowerment.

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