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Rahman wants possible RAW mole in NTJ brought back if hiding in India

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

If Pulastini Mahendran alias Sarah Jasmine, the wife of Atchchi Muhammadu Muhammadu Hastun, who blew himself up at St. Sebastian’s Church in Katuwapitiya, was alive and hiding in India, the government should bring her back, SJB MP Mujibur Rahman, on Monday night, told the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (P CoI) investigating the Easter Sunday attacks.

The government must request the Indian government to look for her and send her back, Rahman said.

“There were media reports suggesting Sarah had gone to India and that a police officer was arrested for helping her escape. The government must bring her back and this will help us find out who was behind the Easter Sunday bombings.”

The MP said there is a hitherto unknown force behind the National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) leader Zahran Hashim and his associates who carried out the Easter Sunday attacks.

“Former DIG of the Terrorism Investigations Division (TID) had told the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on the attacks that the TID had obtained an open warrant for Zahran’s arrest. But finally what happened? TID Head De Silva was arrested. That is why I say there was an invisible force behind Zahran.”

Chairman of the Commission asked Rahman whether Muslim ministers and MPs had been aware of Zahran, and if so whether such matters had been discussed at the National Security Council (NSC). Rahman answered in the negative.

Rahman was also asked if he knew a person named Noordin Mohammed who was arrested while hiding some knives in a mosque in Slave Island following the bombings. The witness said Mohammed was a Colombo Municipal Councillor representing the United National Party.

“I have known him for about 10 years, but knew this incident after his arrest.”

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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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