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Restrictions to be lifted in several areas of Colombo, Gampaha this morning



Restrictions imposed on several areas in Colombo and the Gampaha Districts would be lifted from 5 am today, Army Commander Shavendra Silva said yesterday.

Restrictions on Borella, Wellampitiya, Fort and Slave Island in the Colombo district and Ja-Ela and Kadawatha police areas in Gampaha District will be lifted from today.

However Mattakkuliya, Modera, Grandpass, Bloemendhal, Kotahena, Port area, Wolfendhal Street, Dam Street, Pettah, Keselwatta, Maligawatta, Dematagoda, and Maradana police areas in Colombo and Negombo, Wattala, Peliyagoda, Ragama, and Kelaniya police areas in Gampaha will continue to be isolated areas.

Bogahawatta, Bamunumulla Muslim Area, Kirimanthudawa, Korawala, Atalugama West, and Bamunumulla and Galahamandiya Grama Niladari Divisions in the Kalutara District were declared as isolated areas yesterday.

Train services will resume this morning with 40 office trains operating, the Railways Department states. However, trains will not stop at the stations located in areas isolated due to the pandemic.

Trains operating on the mainline from Fort Railway station to Polgahawela, Rambukkana, Ganewatte, Kandy and Maho will not stop at Maradana, Ragama and Kelaniya main stations, Wanawasala, Dematagoda, Enderamulla, Walpola, Horape and Batuwatte substations.

Trains operating on the Chilaw line from Fort to Chilaw and Puttalam will not stop at Maradana, Kelaniya, Ragama, Negombo and Kurana main stations and Wanawasala, Peralanda, Kattuwa, Dematagoda and Horape substations.

Trains operating on the Kelani Valley line from Colombo Fort to Kosgama and Avissawella will not stop at Base-Line and Maradana stations.

Trains will operate on the coastal line from Colombo Fort to Panadura, Kalutara South, Aluthgama, Hikkaduwa, Galle, Matara and Beliatta.

Secretary to the Ministry of Education, Prof. Kapila Perera said that over 5,300 schools would reopen for Grade 6 to 13 from today. Schools in the Western Province and other areas declared as isolated would reopen later, he said.

Police Spokesman, DIG Ajith Rohana said that they would regulate school vans transporting students to schools and see if the health guidelines could be followed in classrooms.

“There are health ministry guidelines on transporting children to school.”

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Foreign force behind Easter Sunday attacks – Sirisena



By Rathindra Kuruwita

A powerful foreign country or an agency was behind the Easter Sunday bombings and the National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) leader Zaharan Hashim, former President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday told the PCoI investigating the Easter Sunday attacks.

“I also do not believe that Zaharan was the leader of that organisation. Because a leader would never have initiated a suicide attack and died during the first wave,” Sirisena said.

The former President also said that Islamic extremism had spread rapidly in the country due to the support extremists received from Muslim politicians.

Sirisena also said that the military and intelligence officials had been demoralised by harassment they suffered during the yahaalanaya administration. This was the reason why local institutions failed to uncover NTJ’s plans. “But this incident is a conspiracy because it appeared that Zaharan was being manipulated by some foreign hand,” the former President said.

The President further said that during the previous administration, UNPers had headed the Ministry of Law and Order for several years that they had significantly weakened the intelligence services. Although he had taken the Ministry of law and Order in the last stages of the yahapalana government, he had not been able to undo the damage the UNP had done in four years, the witness said.

Commissioner: “Did you know that during your tenure as President, Muslim MPs and ministers were forcible acquiring land in Vanni and Batticaloa and they were constructing Muslim villages and mosques there?”

Sirisena: “Some ministers used their political power to clear forests and cultivate lands. Some ministers were angry with me when I tried to stop them. I tried hard to control those actions. But it was difficult for me to deal with that situation. Fundamentalism rose due to the protection given by Muslim political leaders. Certain political parties are based on religion, race and language. This is disastrous. I tried to stop these people but my decisions were not implemented.”



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Bathiudeen granted bail



Former Minister Rishad Bathiudeen was released on bail by the Fort Magistrate’s Court yesterday. Fort Magistrate Priyantha Liyanage released Bathiudeen on cash bail of Rs. 100,000 with two sureties of one million rupees each.

The Magistrate also imposed a travel ban on Bathiudeen and said that the guarantors should be his close relatives.

The Magistrate granted bail to the MP considering the risk of him contracting COVID-19 as two inmates in cells next to his had recently tested positive for coronavirus.

Bathiudeen was remanded in connection with alleged misappropriation of public funds during the last presidential election to transport voters.

The former minister has been accused of misusing 222 buses owned by the SLTB for transporting internally displaced persons from Puttalam to polling stations in Silavathurai, Mannar during the 2019 Presidential Election. Two others, Mohamed Yaseen Samsudeen and Alagarathnam Manoranjan face the same charges.

They have allegedly violated Article 82(1) of Presidential Elections Act, No. 15 of 1981 by misappropriating public funds amounting to Rs. 9.5 million.

Bathiudeen was arrested at an apartment complex at Ebenezer Place in Dehiwala in the early hours of October 19. He was then produced before the court and placed under remand custody. His bail application was also rejected by the magistrate’s court on several occasions



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Zahran supported Sirisena and SLMC at 2015 elections, Hizbullah tells PCoI



By Rathindra Kuruwita

National Thawheed Jamaat (NTJ) and its leader Zahran Hashim supported Former President Maithripala Sirisena and the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) at the 2015 elections, former Eastern Province Governor M.L.A.M Hizbullah, on Tuesday night, told the PCoI probing the Easter Sunday attacks.

Hizbullah was giving evidence before the PCoI for the second day.

“Zahran supported the SLMC at the 2015 general election. After the UNP-led coalition won the election, NTJ members fought with our supporters. Several people were injured during the clash, including Zahran’s brother. SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem visited Zahran’s brother at the hospital.”

The witness also submitted a footage of a demonstration opposite NTJ Headquarters in Kattankudy. It contained a speech by Zahran, who expressed his dismay after Sirisena appointed Hizbullah as a national list MP.

“In this video, Zahran clearly says he supported Maithripala Sirisena at the 2015 presidential election. Zahran also says he sent a fax to the former President, urging him not to appoint me to Parliament.”

However, it was earlier revealed that in 2015, representatives of five recognised political parties, including the UPFA and the UNP, had signed agreements with Zahran in the run-up to the 2015 general election. Representatives of Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC,) Democratic Party, UNP, UPFA and National Front for Good Governance (NFGG), too, had signed agreements with Zahran in exchange for NTJ support, the Commission was told.

Hizbullah, on Monday, admitted that his party had also signed an agreement with the NTJ.

“Zahran told social media that he would support any politician who agreed to his proposals. All the parties joined him. I also went along.”

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