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Nuwara-Eliya Jihadist Training Camp: Police tried to silence informant

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Nuwara-Eliya Police, on two separate occasions, had attempted to silence a person who had given them a tip-off about a Jihadist training camp conducted by the National Thawheed Jamaat (NTJ) in May 2018, it was yesterday revealed at the PCoI investigating the Easter Sunday attacks.

NTJ leader Zahran Hashim and founder of NTJ Nawfer Moulavi had been present at the camp, the PCoI was told.

D. T. Illesinghe, a resident of Shanthipura, Nuwara-Eliya told the PCoI that a group of people had arrived at Thakhila Holiday Inn, adjacent to his house, on May 05, 2018, in four white vans. Unlike other tourists the group had never left the place and even at night they had kept the lights off, save one.

“I felt suspicious. The hotel is owned by a businessman who operates shops in the Manning Market. The keeper is a guy named Ranga. I spoke to Ranga’s wife and she too said that the group was suspicious. Since I speak Tamil she asked me to check up on them. I entered the Inn at around 6.30 am under the pretext of collecting flowers. When I was going around the house, I overheard a conversation. One person said “It’s not safe to keep the money and weapons here. We should take them back to Kattankudy.” In response a guy named Abdullah said it was not safe to transport weapons.”

Illesinghe said that upon overhearing the conversation, he had called 119 but there had been no answer. Then he called Sergeant Sunil attached to the Nuwara-Eliya Police Station. Since he too didn’t pick up, he called the OIC of the station.

Illesinghe said: “He too didn’t pick up. It was around 8 am. I then decided to call then IGP Pujith Jayasundara. I took down IGP’s contact number shown during a television programme telecast earlier. The IGP picked up and when I told him that there were suspicious people, he gave me SP Mahinda Dissanayake’s number. I called the SP and he said he would inform Nuwara Eliya Police.”

The witness said that the Nuwara Eliya police had called him 30 minutes later and claimed they would come soon. But since the police didn’t turn up by 12.30 pm, Illesinghe called Dissanayake again. “He told me that Nuwara Eliya police would come soon. Then at around 4.30 pm a single police car came. A few minutes before that three vans left the holiday inn. I saw one policeman getting out and going in. I was doing some work and I went to meet the police. But they were leaving by the time I reached my gate. The police were there for only about 15 minutes.”

However after the Easter Sunday attacks, the Nuwara Eliya policemen had come to see him, Illesinghe said. A few days after the attacks, SI Indrajith and two others, carrying weapons, had come to see him. Indrajith had told Illesinghe that his tip-off was right and that the police was too slow.

Illesinghe said: “SI Indrajith said when he went into the Inn, there was Rs million rupees on the floor and a parcel of ganja. I asked him why he had not arrest them for having ganja. SI Indrajith said I shouldn’t bring the matter up because ISIS would come and kill me. I said ISIS won’t, but the Police might.”

The witness said that investigators from various agencies had visited him. Later, he was called for a meeting with various police officers. During the meeting Sergeant Sunil attached to the Nuwara Eliya Police Station asked Illesinghe to be careful and that he should not talk about this to others.

Earlier an Officer attached to PCoI police unit, SI Sanjeewa Sampath of CID told the PCoI that NTJ members, including its leader Zahran Hashim, who had taken part in a Jihadist training camp in Nuwara Eliya, on May 8, 2018, had escaped due to the inaction of the Nuwara Eliya Police.

SI Sampath also said that during their inquiry they had found that Zahran had conducted preaching related to Islamic extremism and his associates had trained the cadres to handle weapons and manufacture bombs.



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UNDP: Rs 600 bn tax cut a huge mistake

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Director of the Sustainable Finance Hub of the UNDP Marcos Neto has called the decision to do away with a range of taxes here a fundamental mistake committed by Sri Lanka.The comment was made at the Parliament complex during an interactive dialogue on ‘Revenue Generation as a Pathway to Sri Lanka’s Economic Recovery’ on Tuesday (09). It was organised on a request by Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, former Chairman of the Committee on Public Finance to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The Opposition as well as several other parties alleged that the government had lost as much as Rs 600 bn due to the controversial decision to do away with a range of taxes including PAYE, NBT (Nation Building Tax), Withholding tax, Capital Gain tax imposed on the Colombo Stock Exchange, Bank Debit tax and unprecedented reduction of VAT (Value Added Tax). The 15% VAT and the 2% NBT which amounted to 17% imposed on all goods and services were unified and reduced to 8%, effective from the first of December 2019.

The decision was taken at the first Cabinet meeting of the Gotabaya Rajapaksa government on 27 Nov. 2019.Governor of the Central Bank Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe is on record as having said that the powers that be ignored the IMF warning not to do so and also the immediate need to restructure Sri Lanka’s debt (SF)

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Debate on power tariff hike on 29 Aug.

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Party leaders have decided to debate the electricity tariff hikes in parliament on 29 August.The date was fixed for the debate following a request by the main opposition SJB.The debate will be held from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm on 29 August.

Chief Opposition Whip Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella told Parliament on Wednesday (10) that as per the proposed tariff hike the monthly electricity bill of domestic consumers would increase by 75 percent to 125 percent. “This is unbearable. This is like sending the people to an electric chair while they are struggling to make ends meet amidst a massive increase in cost of living.

How does this government expect people would be able to pay such an exorbitant price for electricity? We demand a debate in parliament before this proposed tariff hike is implemented,” Kiriella said.

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British national to be deported

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Department of Immigration and Emigration has ordered Kayleigh Fraser, a British national whose passport has been taken into custody after she posted on social media anti-government protests, for violating her visa conditions, to leave the country by 15 August. The Department has already cancelled her visa.

Earlier this month Immigration and Emigration officials visited Fraser at her home and took her passport into custody. The Department said Fraser had been in Sri Lanka for medical reasons since 2019. She had returned home several times, it said.

The Immigration and Emigration officers told her to visit them within the next seven days.Fraser on 02 August said that a group of immigration officers had visited her and asked for her travel document. She said that officials told her that they would return her passport when she visited the Department of Immigration and Emigration.

Fraser added that she had received an anonymous call asking her to leave Sri Lanka as soon as possible before facing ‘big problems.’ Immigration officials visited her house a few days after the call.

Fraser has shared a number of photographs and videos from the ‘Gota Go Gama’ site. Human Rights groups and activists have accused the Sri Lankan government of using Emergency regulations to harass and arbitrarily detain activists seeking political reform and accountability for the country’s economic crisis.

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