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Police raid illicit brewery, seize artificial toddy:

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Monk says corruption helps racketeers thrive

The Walana Police Anti-Vice Strike Force raided an artificial toddy distillery at Weerakodiyana in Dummalasooriya and seized 36,000 litres of the illicit brew, eight plastic barrels, 50 kilos of sugar, 75 kilos of ammonia and 100 packets of yeast yesterday.

Police said the raid had been carried out on a tip-off that an artificial toddy distillery had been run under the guise of a poultry farm.

The raiding party had arrested a person who was in charge of the operation.

The suspects and paraphernalia were handed over to the Dummalsooriya police for legal action.

The suspect has divulged that their brew was supplied to a private liquor company to be used as raw material to produce coconut arrack, police said.

In a statement issued yesterday following the raid, the President of the Nawa Sinhala Rawaya, Ven Magalkande Sudattha Thera said that the illicit toddy industry was thriving despite isolated raids at various places in the country.

In the statement Sudattha Thera said that police, the STF and other law enforcement units had conducted successful raids at many places in the country in the recent past. “Thereafter the police hand over the suspects and contraband to the Excise Department for legal action. The Excise Department officials in most of the cases do not produce those suspects and contraband in the courts. Instead they make use of some provisions in the Excise Act and define the offence as a technical one and release the suspects after levying a settlement fee. Many illicit toddy producers have licences for toddy tapping. The Excise Department punishment has no deterrent effect on the offenders.”

“Hundred thousands of litres of illicit toddy have been seized during the recent past. As per the number of raids all around the country, the illicit toddy business would have been wiped out. But it thrives because officials are victims of inducements by the owners of the illicit toddy industry. During the recent raid, the police found three bags containing 25 kilos of ammonia to be used to produce toddy. That was in addition to 36,000 litres of illicit toddy. How could the government ensure public safety when the poison is being sold in bottles in the name of toddy? The President has launched an initiative to prevent corruption in the public sector. We hope that this issue too would be taken into consideration by the government.”

 

 

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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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