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Naufer Easter Sunday carnage mastermind -Public Security Minister



By Rathindra Kuruwita

The mastermind of the Easter Sunday attacks was Naufer Moulavi, a mentor of NTJ leader Zahran Hashim, Minister of Public Security, Dr. Sarath Weerasekera said yesterday, when asked by a journalist whether there had been a foreign hand behind the attacks. Former Jamaat-e-Islami leader, Rasheed Hajjul Akbar too had played a main role, the Minister said.

The Minister said so at a press briefing in Colombo on the future of the report on the PCoI on the Easter carnage.

Weerasekera also said that there was no concrete evidence to prove that Pulasthini Rajendran alias Sarah Jasmine, the wife of Atchchi Muhammadu Muhammadu Hastun, who detonated a suicide bomb at St. Sebastian’s Church, Katuwapitiya on 21 April 2019, had escaped to India.

A journalist told the Minister that during the sittings of the PCoI on the attacks several key witnesses had said there was a foreign involvement in the attacks; some witnesses said they had seen Sara a few months after the attacks and a policeman had been arrested on the allegations that he had helped Sara escape to India.

However, the Minister said that they was no concrete evidence to suggest Sara was alive, although according to the DNA tests, Sara was not among those killed at a Jihadist safe house at Sainthamaruthu on April 26, 2019.

“There were so many body parts there and we must test all of them again to determine whether she was not died there. We have not done a second batch of DNA testing,” Minister Weerasekera said.

The Public Security Minister said that the Attorney General had been given files on 32 suspects for legal action to be instituted; eight more files containing police investigations on each of the attack sites had also been sent. The Attorney General would file cases against suspects of the Easter Sunday.

Weerasekera said that the AG had to study a large volume of documents. The Police had sent eight files on each of the Easter Sunday attack sites to the AG about two months back, he said.

“Those files run into thousands of pages. The PCoI report contains about 100,000 pages. The AG has to go through everything. The AG has appointed a team of 12 lawyers, and they are studying all these documents. They might also have to ask the police to do further investigations. This is not an easy task. In the US and India, some terror suspects have not been charged for years. Time is needed to build a sold case,” he said.

Minister of Mass Media, Keheliya Rambukwella toldthe media said that Archbishop of Colombo, Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith had demanded legal action against those named in the PCoI report.

Rambukwella said that the government couldn’t decide whom to be prosecuted. The PCoI had made recommendations and the AG had the responsibility to implement them. 

Journalists then asked the Minister whether the government would initiate legal action against former President Maithripala Sirisena, who is the head of a constituent party of the government. On Sunday, Cardinal Ranjith specifically asked the government to take legal action against Sirisena.

“We don’t intervene in these matters. The AG will decide,” Minister Rambukwella said.

Journalists also asked Minister Weerasekera whether action would be taken against policemen whose lapses had contributed to the attacks. The Cardinal too raised concerns about a top policeman in the Central Province named in the PCoI report.

Minister Weerasekera said that he had instructed the IGP to hold a disciplinary inquiry and take action against policemen who were still in the service.

 “The Cardinal is happy with the work the police have done. There is a delay because the AG has to study all documents and build a strong case.”



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Sacked PUCSL Chairman fights back, writes to Prez



Former PUCSL Chairman Janaka Ratnayake yesterday showing the media a document at a news conference called by him in Colombo. Pic by Kamal Bogoda

By Rathindra Kuruwita

Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission (PUCSL) Janaka Ratnayake yesterday wrote to President Wickremesinghe denying all allegations levelled against him.

Earlier in the day, Ratnayake received a note informing of his removal from the PUCSL.

“I write in response to your above captioned letter dated 22 March 2023. At the outset I strongly deny all and singular the several allegations contained against me in your letter under reference,” he said.

The PUCSL Chairman said his letter contained a detailed response..

“I was given an extremely short period of one week, despite the serious consequences that could flow from the misconceived allegations made against me,” Ratnayake said.

He said that the PUCSL was not a rubber stamp for proposals put forward by the Electricity Industry including the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB).

“But the PUCSL should duly exercise its powers and functions as an independent regulator even when the consequent decision reached by it may be one which is not desired by the CEB or the Government,” he said.

Ratnayake said that the PUCSL acting independently has resulted in the Minister of Power and Energy being unable at times to act at his whim and fancy.

“This appears to have irked the Minister of Power and Energy, and also the President. In May 2022, the secretary to the President had phoned my personal assistant instructing her to “ask the Chairman of the Commission to refrain from making any announcement or statement contradicting the speech made by the Prime Minister.”

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Singer Sri Lanka bags top awards



Singer Sri Lanka PLC clinched the People’s Brand of the Year and Durable Brand of the Year Awards for the 17th consecutive year at the SLIM-KANTAR Awards held at the Monarch Imperial on 27th March, 2023. Singer Sri Lanka PLC Chairman Mohan Pandithage receiving the award from Chief Guest, Sri Lanka Test Cricket Captain Dimuth Karunaratne and Guest of Honour, Past President-SLIM Kalana Ratnayake at the glittering ceremony. Singer Sri Lanka PLC CEO Mahesh Wijewardene, Marketing Director, Shanil Perera, Marketing Manager, Piyum Jayathilaka and other senior officials were present. Pic by Kamal Bogoda

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SJB trade unionist calls for significant fuel price reduction



By Shamindra Ferdinando

Convenor of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) trade union wing, Samagi Joint Trade Union Alliance, Ananda Palitha yesterday (28) said that with the appreciation of rupee against the USD and comparatively lower crude prices in the world market, the government could reduce the price of litre of petrol (92 Octane) and diesel by as much as Rs 100 and petrol (95 Octane) by Rs 125.

The trade unionist said that the price of a litre of kerosene, furnace oil and naphtha, too, could be decreased by Rs 100 each.

Responding to The Island queries, the former Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) employee said that fuel prices should be revised as fast as possible for the benefit of the public.

Lanka IOC should follow the new pricing formula, the former UNP trade union leader said, strongly urging the government to re-examine the petroleum sector. It would be pertinent to mention that petroleum and water sectors, too, should be brought under the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) in terms of PUC Act No 35 of 2002, Ananda Palitha said.

Former Power and Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila said that he was out of the country.

Therefore, I couldn’t comment without studying the latest developments.

Ananda Palitha found fault with political parties represented in parliament for the inordinate delay in fully implementing the Act that was meant to regulate three vital sectors. The PUC received authority to regulate the electricity industry, in terms of Sri Lanka Electricity Act No. 20 of 2009, Palitha said. However, respective Acts, pertaining to Petroleum and Water, were yet to be passed by Parliament, the trade union leader said pointing out that the delay on the part of the parliament seemed deliberate.

Asked whether they opposed the further liberalisation of retail market with the entry of more foreign companies, Ananda Palitha said that the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government was exploiting the current political-economic-social crisis to advance the original agenda of Wickremesinghe.

“We are facing a frightening situation,” the SJB activist said, urging political parties represented in parliament to review rapid developments taking place. The entry of four foreign entities should be examined against the backdrop of Lanka IOC further expanding its operations here, Ananda Palitha said.

The outspoken trade unionist warned against moves to gradually weaken Sapugaskanda oil refinery to pave the way for increased import of refined products. “The refinery that launched operations in 1969 during Dudley Senbanayake’s era received the attention of President J.R. Jayewardene and Ranasinghe Premadasa. But, since then no President paid attention to the facility,” Ananda Palitha said. Instead of enhancing its capacity, successive governments were working overtime to weaken it for obvious reasons, the trade unionist said.

According to him, all were attacking Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera over the continuing crisis in the petroleum sector. “We should question President Ranil Wickremesinghe, Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, Cabinet-of-Ministers headed by the President and the relevant Sectoral Oversight Committee,” Ananda Palitah said.

Ananda Palitha said that political parties as well as some trade unions should accept responsibility for the pathetic situation in the petroleum sector. For want of a cohesive action plan, politicians and interested parties regardless of on and off setbacks were able to pursue their agendas detrimental to Sri Lanka, he said.

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