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SDIG recalls how extremists rose above law in East due to political expediency



By Rathindra Kuruwita

Some Islamic groups in the East had armed themselves on the pretext of fighting the LTTE, but had not been involved in extremist activities, former SDIG Eastern Province Edison Gunathilaka on Saturday informed the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) investigating the Easter Sunday attacks.

Zahran was also a member of one of the 18 extremist groups that had emerged during that time.

The retired SDIG said that those groups also engaged in criminal activities but people were afraid of lodging complaints because those groups had political backing. Former minister Rishad Bathiudeen, former Eastern Province Governor M. L. A. M. Hizbullah and A. L. M Athaullah were among those who backed those extremist groups, he said.


“Around 1997 and 1998,

Hizbullah planted date palms in the East after removing the median barrier on the road.


At that time the price of a date palm tree was around Rs. 30,000-40,000″, he said.

Gunathilaka said that a large number of mosques were constructed at that time in the East and the way women dressed had rapidly changed.

“Around 2008, the government gave a grace period for Karuna and Pilleyan groups to return their weapons. However, they only handed over weapons that could not be used. They didn’t hand over the mini pistols they had in thier possession.”

Gunathilaka said that Muslim groups in Kattankudy and Eravur were heavily armed and that 2008 marked the advent of the first extremist groups there. Those groups had acted violently and engaged in many criminal activities, he said.

The Attorney General’s Department officials leading the evidence asked the witness how the Muslim groups had procured those weapons. Gunathilaka said that those weapons had been procured from Pilleyan’s TMVP and that Basheer Segu Dawood had funded the procurements.

“After the end of the war Jihadist groups emerged in the East. They didn’t use helmets while riding motorcycles; they didn’t obey laws and they even assaulted police personnel. I tried to stop these activities but there were obstacles.”

The witness added that former IGP Mahinda Balasuriya had asked him not to arrest armed Islamists due to political reasons. Hizbullah, Athaullah, Bathiudeen and Amir Ali got together and had removed him from the East because he started taking action against Islamists, the witness said.

Gunathilaka said that former Governor of the Western Province Alavi Moulana had been against extremism and advised them to take action against extremist groups.

The former SDIG added that those Islamic groups had also aggressively encroached on state forests in the East. The Muslim officials appointed to those areas had backed such illegal encroachments, he said.

Gunathilaka added that extremism was still very much alive and that there had been some recent incidents that showed extremists were active on the ground.

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Majority of 300 luxury vehicles to be released



… some shipped in without opening LCs, EU wants restrictions abolished

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The majority of the luxury vehicles imported by special permit holders in contravention of the import ban imposed by the government in view of precarious economic situation caused by corona first wave are likely to be released subject to penalties.

Well informed sources said that those vehicles shipped in without even opening LCs would be released. Among the violators were many government servants.

Sources said that vehicles brought in without opening LCs were likely to be confiscated.

“We have categorised over 300 vehicles, including BMWs, Mercedes-Benz and Audis into two groups. Customs are now in the process of evaluating individual cases,” a high ranking state official said.

The government announced a ban on vehicle imports to arrest the depletion of foreign reserves. Sources acknowledged that at the time the vehicles

arrived in Sri Lanka the second corona wave hadn’t erupted. The situation was far worse now and further deteriorating, they said, adding that the Customs were being inundated with requests for releasing vehicles on sympathetic grounds.

Controversy surrounds the failure on the part of the government to strictly implement the import ban in view of the sharp drop in state revenue due to the pandemic.

Recently, the EU demanded that Sri Lanka immediately lift import ban or face the consequences. The EU issued the warning in talks with government representatives. Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena explained the circumstances that compelled the government to impose import restrictions. The EU sought an explanation as to when the ban would be lifted. The Foreign Ministry quoted Foreign Minister Gunawardena as having explained to the EU the challenges Sri Lanka economy was facing amidst the dwindling foreign currency reserve situation due to the significant reduction in remittances and tourism revenue induced by the COVID-19 global pandemic. The minister said that the import restrictions were being reviewed.

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Nearly 74,000 persons under home quarantine



Close to 74,000 people belonging to 27,974 families had been placed under home quarantine, Police Spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana said on Wednesday (25).

He said that the number of cases from the Minuwangoda and Peliyagoda clusters had increased to 17,436 with 458 persons had tested positive for the virus on Tuesday.

Two wards of the Kethumathi Maternity Hospital, Panadura were temporarily closed on Wednesday after two pregnant women admitted there tested COVID-19 positive.

The two women are from Atalugama, which has been declared an isolated area. During the last few days close to half of the COVID-19 patients detected in Colombo District are from Atalugama.

The two women have been sent to Neville Fernando Hospital, Malabe. The patients and staff in Wards 3 and 4 at the Kethumathi Maternity Hospital are now under quarantine. Their family members too have been asked to undergone self-quarantine.

The Police had arrested 61 persons who had violated quarantine laws within the 24 hours that ended at 8 am yesterday, Police spokesman, DIG Ajith Rohana said, adding that they had been arrested for not wearing masks or for not maintaining physical distancing. With those altogether 688 persons had been arrested for violating quarantine laws from October 30, he said.

Commissioner General of Prisons Thushara Upuldeniya said that apart from Welikada, the spread of COVID-19 had been controlled at other prisons. COVID-19 cases had been reported from six prisons, he added.

“We are conducting PCR tests and hope that the situation in Welikada too would be brought under control. Twenty four new cases were detected from prisons on November 24 and from October 04, we have identified 708 cases within the prison system.”

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Severity of impact of second wave on economy could be far worse than anticipated – CBSL



By Shyam Nuwan Ganewatte

The impact of the second wave of COVID-19 could be severer on the economic growth than previously anticipated, Director of Economic Research at the Central Bank Dr. Chandranath Amarasekara said yesterday (26).

Dr. Amarasekera said so responding to a query by The Island at a CBSL media briefing. The top official said that an assessment couldn’t be made yet as the second wave was continuing.

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