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Russia honours Sri Lankan front-line graduates who fought against Covid-19

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A ceremony titled ‘Evening of Friendship’ was held at the Russian Center in Colombo in recognition of the efforts of Russian/USSR graduate front-liners who fought against Covid-19.

The event was organized jointly with the Association of Sri Lankan Graduates from Socialist Countries and the Sri Lanka-Russia Friendship Society.

The chief guest was Dr. Anil Jasinghe, Secretary, Ministry of Environment and former Director-General of Health Services, Vice Chairman of the 146th Executive Board of the WHO, who led the campaign to prevent the spread of the coronavirus infection in Sri Lanka.

Dr. Sunil de Alvis, Additional Secretary (Medical Services), Ministry of Health, who made a significant contribution towards overcoming the threat of the pandemic in Sri Lanka, was the guest of honor.

The event was attended by Susil Premajayantha, State Minister of Education Reforms, Promotion of Open Universities and Distance Learning, President of Sri Lanka- Russia Friendship Society, Yury Materiy, Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Sri Lanka and the Republic of Maldives and Dr. Saman Weerasinghe, former Sri Lankan Ambassador in Russia and General Secretary of Sri Lanka – Russia Friendship Society.

The official part of the event comprised honoring the contribution of the outstanding Soviet/Russian Alumni towards fighting Covid-19 in Sri Lanka, a photo exhibition, and a ceremony to present souvenirs to the graduates to acknowledge their selfless efforts.

Addressing the audience, Anastasia Khokhlova, First Secretary of the Russian Embassy and Director of the Russian Centre in Colombo, noted that Russia acknowledges its graduates as one of the main assets of bilateral cooperation.

“I’m honored to acknowledge that the utmost contribution in this battle against the pandemic threat was carried out by the Russian/Soviet alumni, Dr. Anil Jasinghe and Dr. Sunil De Alwis with many other graduates of various spheres of education, who did a great lot to successfully prevent the spread of the dangerous disease in Sri Lanka”, she noted.

“It is the best compliment for us that the fundamental base for your utmost professionalism was laid at Russian universities and cradled by our country”, she added.

Tokens of appreciation were presented by Ambassador Yuri Materi to acknowledge the contribution of Dr. Anil Jasinghe, Dr. Sunil De Alwis, Dr. Ruwan Wijayamuni, CMC’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, SSP Dr. Ravi Basnayake, Police Hospital, Dr. Geethika Guruge, Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Health, Public Health Department, CMC, Dr. Dinu Guruge, Regional Epidemiologist, Colombo CMC, Dr. Dhammike Adhikarawatta, Public Health Officer, CMC, Dr. Kapila Sooriyaarachchi, Head of Health Promotion Division, Public Health Department, Dr. Sudanthika Wijesooriya in charge of Corona Unit, North Colombo Teaching Hospital and Dr. Theja  Huruggamuwa, Covid Unit, General Hospital, Kalutara.

A cultural program by the students of the School of Music and the School of Ballet and Dance of the Russian Centre in Colombo added color to the event.

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‘Funds poured into NTJ kitty from all over the world’

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Ex-Chairman of National Thowheed Jamaath tells PCoI

By Rathindra Kuruwita

Muslims from all over the world donated to the National Thowheed Jamaath (NTJ), a former chairman of the terrorist organisation, Mohamed Yusuf Mohamed Tawfiq Moulavi, who is currently in remand custody told the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) investigating the Easter Sunday attacks on Saturday.

“I don’t know much about the specifics. I don’t know who exactly donated to the NTJ account. But there is a ledger on the expenses. I maintained that with the NTJ Treasurer, a man named Mastakeen.”

However, Mohamed insisted that he was not an extremist and that if he had known that NTJ leader Zahran Hashim was an adherent of ISIS ideology, he would never have joined the NTJ.

The representative of the Attorney General’s Department (AGD), who led evidence, told the witness that he had shared some videos of Zahran on his social media platforms. Given that Zahran’s posts were sectarian and fundamentalist by nature how Mohamed could claim that he had not been aware of Zahran’s ideology, the counsel asked.

“I only shared Zahran’s speeches that I agreed with. I have not shared any speech that promotes extremism or ISIS,” the witness said.

Although Mohamed said that he was not aware of Zahran’s extremism, the AG’s Department representative said the NTJ’s media unit had boosted Zahran’s extremist speeches.

The counsel asked how come Mohamed, the Chairman of the NTJ, had missed those extremist speeches.

“I am human. I could not observe Zahran all the time. I have also not seen any of these videos that promote extremism,” the witness said.

Mohamed said there had been a clash in Kattankudy on 10 March 2017 between the NTJ and members of Sunnath Wal Jamath group and that Zharan had gone missing thereafter. Since then he had had no contacts with Zahran, the witness said, stressing that he served as the Chairman of the NTJ in 2016 and joined the organization upon a request by Zahran Hashim.

Members of the PCoI then asked the witness when he had found out that Zahran was involved in the Easter Sunday attacks.

Mohamed: “Two days after the attack, the CID and the TID came to my house and asked if I could identify Zahran’s head. I was the one who identified it.

A Commissioner: “How did NTJ devotees respond to Zahran’s involvement?

Mohamed: “They were angry with Zahran.”

A Commissioner: Was the NTJ registered with the All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (ACJU)?

MohamedNo.

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SLMC calls for explanation from its MPs who voted for 20A

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The four Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) MPs who voted in favour of the ‘20A’, had been asked to explain their position to the High Command of the party, SLMC Secretary, Nizam Kariapper said on Saturday.

“Consequent to the Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) Parliamentary group meeting, the leader of the SLMC Rauff Hakeem, summoned its parliamentary group for a meeting at his residence Friday evening. After a lengthy discussion on the matters relating to vote on ‘20A’, it was decided that the SLMC members of parliament, who voted in favour of ‘20A’ should be asked to explain their position to the High Command of the Party, enabling it to take further steps on this matter,” he said.

The party Leader, party Secretary and the four rebel MPs namely, H.M.M. Harees, Faizal Cassim, M Thowfeek, Nazeer Ahamed were present at Friday’s meeting.

“The leader also informed that the High Command must meet at the earliest possible date, to deliberate on this issue,” Kariapper said.

A number of SLMC MPs voted in support of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution last week.

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Fort, Pettah, Borella and Welikada Police areas also under curfew

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The quarantine curfew imposed on Gampaha District will remain in place until further notice, the National Operations Centre for Prevention of COVID-19 Outbreak (NOCPCO) announced yesterday.

NOCPCO, however, said that grocery stores, pharmacies and banks – state and private, would be opened in Gampaha today between 8.00 am and 10.00 pm. Bank staff could report to duty using their institutional identity cards, it said A quarantine curfew was imposed in Fort, Pettah, Borella and Welikada Police areas as well yesterday. Earlier quarantine curfew was imposed on Maradana, Dematagoda, Maligawatte, Keselwatte, Dam Street, Barber Street & Foreshore, Mattakuliya, Modera, Wellampitiya, Bloemendhal and Grandpass police areas in the Colombo District.

The total number of infections reported from the Minuwangoda and Peliyagoda Coronavirus clusters has increased to 4,050.

Special police teams have been deployed to arrest those who violate the quarantine curfew and Police Spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana said that they had arrested 165 persons in the 24-hours that ended at 8 am yesterday. A total of 924 persons had been arrested and 140 vehicles into custody up to yesterday morning from October 4, he said.

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