Connect with us


Rape of teenager: SJB alleges bid to suppress probe as nine suspects get bail



Govt. insists inquiry on track, urges Opposition not to propagate lies


By Shamindra Ferdinando

Samagi Jana Balavegaya MP Rohini Kaviratne says an attempt is being made to suppress the ongoing investigations into the alleged rape of a 15-year-old girl.

The government had interfered in the inquiry following the arrest of an influential monk in connection with the high profile inquiry, the Matale District MP alleged.

“We are closely watching the situation,” MP Kaviratne said, adding that she intended to raise the issue at the next meeting of the Women Parliamentarians’ Caucus. “We’ll issue a strong statement on the plight of the teenager forced into prostitution and the failure on the part of those responsible to protect women and children,” MP Kaviratne said.

Answering another query, the former UNP MP urged the government to ensure an impartial and a speedy inquiry into the entire sordid case.

Referring to recent reports of law enforcement personnel sexually abusing women in police stations, MP Kavirtane said that among those who had been arrested over the rape of the teenager was a policeman. Media reports of she having had hundreds of clients in relatively a short period should prompt a thorough investigation, MP Kaviratne said, pointing out that the sex racket had taken place amidst all sorts of travel restrictions imposed in view of the raging Covid-19 epidemic.

The Island raised the issue at hand with Chairperson of Women Parliamentarians’ Caucus State Minister Sudarshini Fernandopulle, who assured they would certainly take up the matter.

Lawmaker Kaviratne said that the SJB would take up the issue both in and outside Parliament. “We’ll not keep quiet if those in authority intervene on behalf of the suspects,” she said.

The MP pointed out that the Deputy Chairman of the Mihintale Pradeshiya Sabha E.M.L. Edirisinge of Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) had been among those arrested; he was granted bail. She noted that the local government politician was not the only person who had received bail.

Responding to the SJB’s accusations, Public Security Minister Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera yesterday (12) told The Island there was absolutely no basis for criticism. He asked the Opposition to reveal who on behalf of the government or his Ministry interfered in the inquiry.

Referring to the arrest of a Navy cardiologist holding the rank of Lieutenant Commander, one-time Navy Chief of Staff Rear Admiral Weerasekera said that the police were conducting investigations. Minister Weerasekera urged the SJB not to play opportunistic politics with the issue at hand as it did with every other incident. He said the Children and Women Bureau conducted the investigation with the support of the CID.

Former IGP Chandra Fernando, speaking to The Island in his new capacity as the Chairman of the National Police Commission (NPC), emphasised that his outfit had not so far received complaints as regards shortcomings on the part of the police investigations or interventions to derail the probe. Fernando said that he had received a note from the National Child Protection Authority in that regard. The NPC could inquire into the status of the investigation, he said.

Director, Police Media, SSP Nihal Talduwa told The Island that the initial breakthrough had been made by HQI, Mount Lavinia Dileepa Perera following a tip-off received from the public. The police searched a place at Station Road where they found the girl with her brother and the two sons of her mother’s paramour. The 35-year-old man had advertised her online over the past several months without attracting the attention of regulatory authorities, SSP Talduwa said.

Among those who had been arrested so far in connection with the ongoing investigation are the girl’s mother and her paramour.

The Island raised the contentious issue of some of those who had been arrested in connection with the rape of a minor being granted bail before the completion of investigations, with Justice Ministry advisor and former President of the Sri Lanka Bar Association U.R. de Silva, PC. According to him, the Colombo Additional Magistrate Roshani Abeywickrema on July 9 had granted bail to four persons the Vice Chairman of the Mihintale Pradeshiya Saba, the Navy cardiologist and two leading businessmen after they were produced at identification parades. They were released on Rs. 25,000 cash bail and two sureties of Rs. 2.5 million each. The former BASL President emphasized that once suspects appeared before identification parades, they could be released. “There cannot be any issue over that,” De Silva said. Earlier, the court granted bail to the girl’s mother.

The Police Children and Women’s Bureau Director declined to comment on the investigation. Asked whether at least she could shed light on some of those arrested receiving bail under controversial circumstances, she said that the media should contact Senior DIG Ajith Rohana.

Senior DIG Rohana said altogether nine persons had so far been granted bail. Granting bail was the prerogative of courts, he added.


SLFP tells major partner how to resolve crisis



Kotelawala Bill rallying point for Opposition

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) has offered to support the proposed Kotelawala National Defence University (KNDU) Act if the government met its four conditions primarily meant to ensure KNDU remained within the State University system.

The SLFP, in a missive dated Aug 3 addressed to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has made the following amendments to the KNDU Bill, namely (i) the KNDU should be under the University Grants Commission (UGC) (ii) those outside the military to be admitted on the basis of Z-Score rankings (iii) taking into consideration undergraduates had to pay for receiving education at the KNDU and making arrangements to provide them with loans payable later and (iv) civilians should be in the majority in the unversity governing bodies.

The SLFP parliamentary group consists of 14, including one National List member, Dr. Suren Raghvan. The SLPP with 116 seats on its own enjoys a simple majority in Parliament.

Office of former President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday (4) made available a copy of its letter to the President signed by Ranjith Siyambalapitiya, MP, Chairman of the SLFP committee that inquired into the simmering KNDU controversy.

The SLPP decision to go ahead with KNDU Act has triggered protests in Colombo and several other areas, including Jaffna.

Acknowledging the pivotal importance in addressing issues pertaining to University level education, particularly those who couldn’t enter State universities seeking entry into Universities even in developing countries, the SLFP has recommended the setting up of a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) to examine the issue at hand within a specific period would be the most suitable measure. However, if the government wanted to move the matter expeditiously in Parliament, the SLFP believed the above mentioned four amendments should be included.

Lawmaker Siyambalapitiya told The Island that the party consulted the SLFP parliamentary group as well as several other stakeholders before reaching consensus on the KNDU Act. MP Siyambalapitiya said that the SLFP expected President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to pay special attention to the suggestions made.

Senior Vice President of the SLFP Prof. Rohana Lakshman Piyadasa told The Island that if there had been proper mechanism for consultations among constituents of the SLPP led alliance issues such as the KNDU Bill could have been easily avoided. Prof. Piyadasa emphasized that those in political authority should have consulted all constituents before it finalised the KNDU Bill and presenting it to Parliament. Responding to another query, Piyadasa pointed out why SLPP should do away with the practice of taking major decisions without consulting constituents. The academic cited the enactment of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution in Oct 2020 and the passage of the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill as two glaring examples.

Prof. Piyadasa pointed out how some sections of the Opposition exploited mishandling of the KNDU issue to such an extent that now trade unions affiliated to political parties brought dozens of groups under one banner. They had managed to cleverly mix teachers’ salary issue with the KNDU controversy, Prof. Piyadasa said, alleging the government allowed the situation to get out of hand. Tuesday’s violent protest on the road leading to Parliament highlighted the deterioration of the situation and the failure on the part of the government to address the issue at hand, prudently.

Prof. Piyadasa said that the government couldn’t ignore concerns expressed by the Government Medical Officers’ Association and the Association of Medical Specialists in that regard. Pointing out the government could easily resolve the issue by following the SLFP’s recommendations, Prof. Piyadasa said urging the government to respond to the developing situation swiftly and decisively.

Referring to a spate of statements issued by the Defence Ministry in that regard, Prof. Piyadasa said that the government should seek the backing of all political parties represented in parliament to expand capacity of State Universities.

He said that the SLFP recently discussed the matter with breakaway JVP faction, the Frontline Socialist Party (FSP). Except perhaps for some pursuing agendas of their own, vast majority of lawmakers wouldn’t back the proposed KNDU Bill in its present form, Prof. Piyadasa said.

Piyadasa emphasized unnecessary trouble caused by the government’s shortsighted strategy couldn’t be resolved by resorting to police crackdowns.

Continue Reading


Shouting match over arrest and detention of MP



By Saman Indrajith

Parliament was plunged into turmoil yesterday over the arrest and detention of MP Rishad Bathiudeen, while President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was in the Chamber. 

Chief Opposition Whip Kandy District SJB MP Lakshman Kiriella, raising a point of order, said that MP Bathiudeen had been detained for nearly 100 days without being charged. “MP Bathiudeen has not been given a charge sheet. The police have not even informed the Speaker of this arrest and detention of the MP. His case had been postponed four times. This is against British parliamentary traditions. This amounts to the breach of privileges of the MP. We demand that the MP should be set free.”

 Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena: I have been informed of the arrest of MP Bathiudeen.

 Chief Opposition Whip Kiriella: On what grounds? 

The Speaker: For an investigation.

Chief Opposition Whip Kiriella: It cannot be accepted as a reason for the arrest. On what grounds the arrest has been made?

(MPs of government side shouts at the Chief Opposition Whip) 

Chief Government Whip Highways Minister Johnston Fernando: Time was when we too were taken into custody. No reasons were given. The then Speaker did not speak a word when we were taken into custody. Where had that tradition been then?

 Chief Opposition Whip Kiriella: This is a matter of importance for each and every MP. This is applicable to all of us. This could happen to you one day. There have been several Presidents in the country, but no MP was detained under any of them in this manner. 

Leader of the House Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena: There is an investigation against MP Bathiudeen. Another probe has also been initiated by the police. Those investigations have to be conducted properly. There is no meaning in shouting here while there are investigations pending against MP Bathiudeen.

(SJB MPs shout against the government while the Speaker was trying to bring the House in order)

 MP Rishad Bathiudeen: Ninety-two days have lapsed since I was taken into custody. There were investigations only for five days. I am being detained in a dark room for 24 hours. There is no reason for my arrest. I am telling the President of this country, Sir, there is no reason for my arrest. There was an additional secretary by the name of Balasubramaniyam in my ministry. I am told that I was arrested over a telephone conversation that Balasubraniyam had with somebody.

Chief Government Whip Minister Johnston Fernando: MP Bathiudeen mentioned one Balasubramaniyam. Balasubramaniyam has fled the country. You should know that.



Continue Reading


Several policemen injured as IUSF-led protesters topple police barricades



Maharagama OIC’s fingers badly mangled

By Saman Indrajith

Several policemen had been injured on Tuesday when undergraduates, led by the Inter-University Students Federation, toppled barricades set up to prevent them from marching on the road leading to Parliament.

Among the injured is OIC of the Maharagama police, Chief Inspector H.H. Janakantha, who was operated on at the Sri Jayewardenepura Hospital. Three of his fingers in his hand were badly mangled. He was first taken to the Medical Centre in the parliamentary complex but later transferred to the Jayewardenepura hospital.

 The protesters wrested the barricade from policemen who were attempting to hold back the protesters.

The Maharagama OIC was among additional policemen summoned from nearby stations to strengthen the security of Parliament and the high security zone.

The protesters led by the IUSF started from several places to march towards Parliament around noon to protest against the proposed Kotelawala National Defence University Bill. The main march started from the Ayurveda Roundabout in Borella. The march created heavy traffic between the Ayurveda roundabout and Battaramulla during the lunch hour traffic.

The protesters could not be stopped at the Parliament Roundabout, and they proceeded up to the Jayanthipura entrance to the Parliament premises. They pulled down barricades but the police managed to stop them at that point. The IUSF activists set a coffin labelled ‘the death of free education’ on fire at the main entrance to Parliament. The protesters dispersed about one hour later after IUSF convener Wasantha Mudalige and Prof. Mahim Mendis of the Federation of University Teachers’ Associations made speeches against the KNDU (Kotelawala National Defence Univeristy) Bill. 



Continue Reading