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PC Minister Weerasekera opposes full implementation of 13 A

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By Saman Indrajith

India had no moral right to ask for the full implementation of the 13th amendment to the Constitution, Local Government and Provincial Councils Minister Sarath Weerasekera told Parliament yesterday.

Participating in a debate at the time of adjournment of the House on foreign agreements of Sri Lanka, the Minister said that the amendment had been interpreted as an outcome of Indo-Lanka Accord, of which the role and commitment of India as a party to the agreement was in question because India did not fulfil its commitments.

“Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked our Prime Minister to implement the 13th Amendment although the amendment is an internal affair of this country. When foreign governments adversely commented on India’s abrogation of Article 370 from its Constitution, accusing India of scrapping the special status given to people in troubled Jammu and Kashmir region there, our prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa when asked to comment said that it was an internal matter of India.”

“Knowing that the 13th Amendment is an internal matter of Sri Lanka, Prime Minister Modi is asking for its implementation does not show the same reciprocation. Some interpret that PM Modi is asking so on the mandate of Indo-Lanka Accord. But the question is whether India has adhered to its own commitments specified in the Indo-Lanka Accord. The 13A is not even mentioned in the Accord. The Accord is something forced down on us by India.

“I have my reservations about the Accord. As per the agreement India is to enable the return of the Sinhalese and Muslims to vote. Thousands of Sinhala and Muslim Lankans are still unable to return.

“India also promised in the agreement to ensure within 48 hours cessation of violence and all arms of the terrorist groups in Lanka would be surrendered to authorities. We know that it had been done only as a token because the LTTE handed over few firearms but there were no cessation of hostilities. Even the Indian army, one of the largest armies in the world, had to withdraw after suffering heavy casualties at the hands of the LTTE.

“It was the Lankan forces under proper political leadership who defeated the LTTE. So, India did not fulfill her commitments in the agreement.

 “It should also be asked whether the agreement was signed under duress, or whether contents of the agreement compromised Sri Lanka’s sovereignty. When our forces were about to crush the LTTE and capture LTTE leader Prabhakaran at Vadamarachchi, India violated our airspace and dropped food and medicine in Jaffna famously known as dhal dropping operation of India.

 “Also it mentions Trincomalee Harbour and Oil Tank Farm. The Sri Lankan courts have nullified the merger of the northern and eastern provinces which was one of the clauses of the Accord.

 “So, there is a serious concern about the validity of the agreement and if it is not valid, India has no moral right to interfere in our internal affairs.

 “Let India be reminded that soon after its Independence there was a separatist movement by the Dravidians. EVR Periyar advocated Nazi style anti Brahmanism. That is why Jawahar Lal Nehru broke India into 28 linguistic states.

“Ambedkar expressed that ‘linguistic states and political entities will become a stepping stone for creation of separate states’. He further said that the road between an independent nationality and independent state is very narrow. If this happens, modern India will cease to exist.

“Here, we talk about devolution of power with the province as the unit with provisions for mergering two provinces.

“So India should be cognizant of the fact that granting self-determination to the North or the  merged North and East could be utilised as a stepping stone for a Dravidistan or if not they could link up with Tamil Nadu. So Balkanization of Sri Lanka into provincial governments through 13 A will invariably affects the existing unity of India. The promoter will then become the victim.

In the North, Tamil account for 99% of the population. The LTTE resorted to ethnic cleansing and all Sinhala and Muslim people who lived in the North were either massacred or chased out. Now, the separatist politicians seek self-determination.

“That is why the experts say power should never be devolved on the basis of ethnicity. The 13 Amendment provides for ethnic enclaves. We know the devolution of power as opposed to decentralisation and result in the division of our nation.

“So, we do not believe in the devolution of power but of course in decentralisation up to the lowest levels. The centre must retain the power. Our culture of governance was centered with the ruling king. It has not fundamentally changed. Raja Bhavatu Dhammiko is the theme of governance by a virtuous ruler that we recognise, respect and expect.

“India and Sri Lanka have a very long history of friendship and we recognize the importance of nurturing that friendship.”

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Special COVID-19 probe crippled by infections among CCD sleuths: AG calls for new police team

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

Brandix Apparel Limited yesterday (29) said that the company would fully cooperate with relevant authorities in the investigation ordered by the Attorney General (AG). A spokesperson for the company said so when The Island sought a clarification with regard to AG Dappula de Livera, PC, directing the police to launch a criminal investigation into the alleged lapses on the part of the company as well as those officials leading to the devastating COVID-19 outbreak.

The Minuwangoda eruption, which happened in the first week of October is widely believed to be the cause of the fast expanding Peliyagoda cluster.

Asked whether the police had contacted the Brandix management as regards the investigation and sought access to Brandix management and workers at its Minuwangoda apparel manufacturing facility as well as records at the Minuwangoda facility, the spokesperson said: “We will work with the relevant authorities in this regard”.

The Colombo Crime Division (CCD) tasked with the probe has suffered a serious setback due to a section of its officers being tested positive for COVID-19. Authoritative sources said that the CCD lacked sufficient strength to carry out the investigation.

AG de Livera early this week told DIG Ajith Rohana that a progress report should be submitted to him by or before Nov. 13.

Sources said that the badly depleted CCD was not in a position to conduct the high-profile investigation, in addition to other ongoing inquiries. The AG has directed the Acting IGP to constitute a special team of law enforcement officers to conduct the investigation. Sources acknowledged the urgent need for a thorough inquiry into the far worse second corona wave. Sources said that the AG issued fresh instructions in that regard after the crisis in the CCD was brought to his notice.

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Most garment workers under self-quarantine left to fend for themselves

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

A large number of garment workers who were undergoing self-quarantine in Minuwangoda did not receive any assistance, Chamila Thushari of the Dabindu Collective, a labour organisation that works with garment workers, told The Island yesterday.

She said that those who were under self-quarantine did not have money to purchase food and even those who were willing to help could not reach them.

“Some of them have received food parcels from their work places but that is not adequate. Most others have not received any assistance. Matters will only get worse after curfew is imposed throughout the Western Province,” Thushari said.

Most of these workers are undergoing self-quarantine at their boarding places, which also house individuals who still work in garment factories. “Although there is a curfew, they can go to work. These are perfect incubators for the virus,” she said.

Thushari said that every day between 20-30 workers under self-quarantine, tested positive for COVID-19.

There were no public health inspectors to monitor the boarding houses of garment workers to ensure that COVID-19 prevention measures were being followed, she said.

“Not even Grama Niladaris visit them,” Chamila said.

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SJB requests separate seats for its dissidents

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Chief Opposition Whip and Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella has written to Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena requesting him to make arrangements to provide separate seats to the nine MPs who had voted with the government for the 20th Amendment to the Constitution recently.

The letter dated yesterday said that the SJB parliamentary group had decided to expel MPs Diana Gamage, A. Aravind Kumar, Ishak Rahuman, Faisal Cassim, H. M. M. Haris, M.S. Thowfeeq, Nazeer Ahmed, A.A.S.M. Raheem and S.M.M. Musharaf and it requests the Speaker to make separate seating arrangements for these MPs in the Chamber.

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