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

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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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Sajith says ‘super’ PM has failed, SJB ready to take over govt.

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Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) leader Sajith Premadasa has said that his party is ready to accept the daunting challenge of re-building the country.

Premadasa, who is also the Opposition Leader, has said that the SJB is capable of restoring the economy to pre-2019 status within five years. The declaration was made at the Opposition Leader’s Office, Sir Marcus Fernando Mawatha, on Monday (27)

The SJB won 54 seats, including seven National List slots, at the last parliamentary election in August 2020.

Demanding that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa step down without further delay, the SJB leader launched a scathing attack on UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe. Those who claimed Wickremesinghe was a ‘super’ PM capable of performing economic miracles had to eat their own words, he added.

Having mismanaged the national economy thereby causing unprecedented disruption of fuel supplies, some ministers undertook foreign jaunts at the taxpayers’ expense to beg for fuel and gas. Alleging that the government was trying to deceive the masses struggling to cope up with a severe shortage of almost all essential items, the SJB leader reiterated his call for President Rajapaksa and Premier Wickremesinghe to step down.

Of the 54 member parliamentary group, three lawmakers, Harin Fernando, Manusha Nanayakkara and Nazeer Ahamed have accepted ministerial portfolios while another MP, Dayana Gamage switched her allegiance to the SLPP.

SJB leader Premadasa said that under his leadership there wouldn’t be space for waste, corruption and irregularities. The former UNP Deputy Leader offered to lead the country at an event held to announce the setting up of a unit to work out a national consensus regarding just solutions for political, economic and social issues, Matara District MP Buddhika Pathirana heads the unit. (SF)

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House sittings expected to be cancelled coming week

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Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena yesterday (28) told The Island that the Parliament wouldn’t be able to meet next week due to the disruption of fuel supply.

Speaker Abeywardena said that he couldn’t visit his Matara home for want of fuel and many lawmakers experienced the same problem. The Matara District MP said that he had been compelled to stay at his Colombo residence.

Parliament was earlier scheduled to meet from Tuesday to Friday. Last Week the Opposition boycotted the Parliament. After the Opposition announced its decision, the Parliament announced sittings wouldn’t take place as members were unable to attend due to fuel shortage (NP)

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Lankan envoy to Lebanon calls on UNIFIL Head

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Ambassador Karunaratne with Major General Aroldo Lâzaro(pic courtesy Foreign Ministry)

Sri Lanka Ambassador to Lebanon Shani Calyaneratne Karunaratne paid a courtesy call on Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Aroldo Lâzaro at the Head Quarters of the UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) at Blue Line, in Naquara, on June 21, 2022.

They discussed matters of mutual interest which included increasing Sri Lankan troops at UNIFIL. The Force Commander stated that the Sri Lankan troops are respected for their outstanding professionalism and thanked them for their contribution to the UNIFIL for the past 11 years. Contingent Commander of 13th Force Protection Company (UNIFIL) Sri Lanka Lieutenant Colonel Nayan Samarakoon, and Attaché (Administration) of the Embassy Priyantha Dasanayaka also participated in the meeting.

The Ambassador was accorded a Guard of Honour and an inspection of troops and armored vehicles. A k9 demonstration and a concert by the Sri Lanka Army Calypso band was also held.

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