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President instructs officials to understand problems of people




President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has said that all farmers will be given permission to continue with traditional cultivations without any hindrance until the problems they experience are resolved.

The President took this decision taking into consideration issues raised by the farmers who attended the 6th ‘Gama Samaga Pilisandara’ programme Saturday at Medirigiriya in the Polonnaruwa district.

The President directed the officials of all institutions including Wildlife, Forest Conservation, Environment and the police not to hinder the traditional cultivation activities, the President’s media division states.

“However, the President emphasized that no one was allowed to clear the forest and cultivate it.

“Polonnaruwa is one of the districts in the country threatened most by wild elephants. The President instructed the officials to understand the problems people have been facing for a long time and implement both the construction of trenches and erection of electric fences as a permanent solution.

“The people pointed out the damage caused to the education of the students due to the stalled development work of many schools in the district.

“President Rajapaksa instructed the authorities to expedite the completion of all stalled development work in all schools in the country.

“The President took these decisions while participating in the “Chat with the Village” programme held at Wedikachchiya Village, Medirigiriya, Polonnaruwa on Saturday (16).

“This is the sixth in a series of “Conversations with the Village” programme launched by President Rajapaksa.

“The programme was launched on September 25, 2020 in the Badulla District. Five programmes were organized covering Matale, Ratnapura, Anuradhapura, and Ampara districts.

“The President met the people in the remote villages outside the city who had not been given due attention so far and immediately inquired about their problems and drew the attention of the officials to provide solutions.

“Problems that could be resolved quickly were resolved, and issues that would take time to resolve were noted to be addressed later.

“Wedikachchiya village which belongs to the Medirigiriya Divisional Secretariat area about 45 km away from Polonnaruwa town belongs to the “D” zone of the Mahaweli Development Scheme.

“Consisting of the villages of Samagipura, Darshanapura, Dahamwewa and Peramaduwa, Wedikachchiya village covers 79 square kilometers and home to a population of 2561 from 723 families. Agriculture and self-employment are the main livelihoods of the people in many surrounding villages, including Wedikachchiya.

“One of the major problems faced by the villagers is that paddy cultivation has to be restricted to the Maha season only due to lack of water. Therefore, they have to leave the village during the Yala season and engage in any hired labour available.

“The President stated that new houses will be built to replace the existing ones in Wedikachchiya village which does not even have the basic facilities.

“The district’s political authority and officials were instructed to take immediate steps to repair canals and tanks and provide irrigation water to both seasons as a solution to the long standing cultivation problem of the villagers.

“People also pointed out the damage caused by deer to crops in the Medirigiriya – Vatadage area. As a solution, it was decided to build a net fence around the deer habituated forest area. North Central Province Governor Mahipala Herath agreed to provide funds for the project.

“The President emphasized the need to create vocational training opportunities for students who complete the GCE (A / L) examination. President Rajapaksa said the State Minister in charge of the subject would be made aware of this and vocational training opportunities would be created.

“The President paid special attention to the drinking water needs of the area. He instructed the officials to complete the construction of a water treatment plant near Kaudulla Wewa and provide water to 10,000 families by the end of 2021.

“The President instructed electricity officials to provide “solar power systems” free of charge to schools and low-income families who are unable to pay their electricity bills.

“It was directed to rectify the shortages in schools and hospitals in the area and to expedite the development of a number of main and by-roads.

President Rajapaksa also inaugurated the Bisopura Mahaweli Primary School in Medirigiriya in parallel to the ‘Conversation with the Village’ programme. The President invited former President Maithripala Sirisena, who spearheaded the construction of the college, to open it.

“The President handed over two computers donated by SLT, Mobitel and a television set donated by Dialog to the Principal.

“Former President Maithripala Sirisena, State Ministers Roshan Ranasinghe, Siripala Gamlath, Member of Parliament Amarakeerthi Athukorala, Governor of the North Central Province Mahipala Herath, Chief Adviser to the President Lalith Weeratunga, People’s Representatives, and Secretaries to Ministries joined the programme.

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SLFP: PCoI has exceeded its mandate and failed to address critical issues



By Rathindra Kuruwita

President Maithripala Sirisena appointed the PCoI on Easter Sunday Attacks to identify local and international forces behind the attacks, establish the motives of those groups and to punish those who were directly and indirectly responsible for the attacks, but those issues had not been addressed by the PCoI’s final report, the SLFP said yesterday.

 SLFP General Secretary, Dayasiri Jayasekera said that the party’s Executive Committee had discussed the report in depth on Thursday and decided that the Commission had not addressed the issues it had been appointed to probe.

On the other hand, some of its recommendations have gone beyond its mandate.

Issuing a press release, the SLFP said that while the PCoI observed that former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had been soft on Islamic extremism and his government had not taken active steps in combating extremism, however, the PCoI had treated Wickremesinghe with kid gloves while taking a tough stance on former President Maithripala Sirisena.

 “The former President took over the Ministry of Law and Order on 30 October 2018, i.e. only five months and twenty days before the attacks. None of those who held the post before have been accused of anything. The report also focuses little on those who planned the attacks, those who financed the attacks and those who protected the attackers. Moreover, although there is evidence to prove that the weapons found in Muslim mosques after the attacks had been brought in by ships; the report had not investigated it in-depth,” the SLFP said.

 The party also said Pulastini Rajendran alias Sara Jasmine, the wife of Mohommadu Hastun, a suicide bomber, had fled to India sometime after the attacks. However, the Commission had not only paid any attention to it but also had ignored what could have been found.

 “The mandate set by President Sirisena says to look at current or former state officials who are directly or indirectly linked to these incidents. There is no mandate for the Commission to look into whether the head of the state or ministers have fulfilled their constitutional duties. Thus, the recommendations on the former President are beyond the PCoI’s mandate. The pages 292 and 293 of the report state that President Sirisena had instructed the Police to arrest NTJ leader Zahran Hashim at the National Security Council. However, they also insist that the former President had not carried out its duties and responsibilities. Page 296 says that the former President not appointing an acting Defence Minister when he left for India and Singapore was a violation of the Constitution. However, in another place the Commissioners say that making such appointments is at the President’s discretion,” the SLFP said in a press release.

 The SLFP also states that the former President had carried out his duties and the report has ample evidence of it. Thus, there is no way that criminal proceedings can be instituted against him.

 “The concept that criminal proceedings can be instituted against a President for not carrying out some duty sets a bad precedent and is a slight to the power given to the President by the Constitution. The US and New Zealand security agencies had received information about 9/11 and the Christchurch shootings but the heads of the states were not charged. We vehemently refuse the allegations against the former President and reject many of the other recommendations too.”

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Dubai haven for majority of Lankan fugitives with INTERPOL red notices



By Pradeep Prasanna Samarakoon

Police had obtained INTERPOL Red Notices against 24 drug traffickers hiding overseas, police spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana said.

In addition, DIG Rohana said INTERPOL blue notices had been issued for 87 wanted criminals who were currently residing overseas.

The DIG said a majority of the suspects were reported to be hiding in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, while some were in neighbouring India and European countries.

The country’s law enforcement agencies had seized over 1,610 kilos of heroin in 2020 alone, the DIG noted, adding that last year 33,125 suspects had been arrested for possessing heroin and 1,400 others for having in their possession synthetic drugs.

About 61,550 persons had been arrested for narcotic-related offences, in 2020, said the Police Spokesperson, noting that intelligence reports had suggested there was a shortage of heroin in the local drug market due to continuous raids carried out by law enforcement authorities. That had led to a rise in the use of synthetic drugs, such as ICE, he added.

INTERPOL assistance had been sought to extradite 129 Lankans wanted for various crimes, he said.

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Organise State Vesak festival at Nagadeepa with those of other religions- PM 



Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa who is also the Minister of Buddhasasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs has instructed authorities to hold this year’s State Vesak Festival at the Nagadeepa Raja Maha Viharaya in Jaffna focusing on the Northern and Eastern Provinces.

The Prime Minister at a meeting held at Temple Trees on Thursday evening had given instructions to the Secretary to the Ministry of Buddhasasana, Cultural and Religious Affairs Prof Kapila Gunawardena to organize the State Vesak Festival together with those following other religions.

Accordingly, the Departments of Hindu, Christian and Muslim Affairs under the Ministry of Buddha Sasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs, will join in the efforts to organize the event.

Among those present were Sanghanayake of the Northern Province Chief Incumbent of the Nagadeepa Vihara Ven Dr. Dharmakeerthi Sri Navadagala Padaumakitthi Nayaka Thera, Sanghanayake of the Eastern and Thamankaduwa Ven Munhene Mettharama thera, Sanghanayake of the Matara-Hambantota districts Adrahere Kassapa Nayaka thera, State Minister Vidura Wickramanayake, MP Suren Raghawan and officials of the Ministry of Buddha Sasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs.



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