Shani claims before PCoI that CID briefed President Sirisena on gravity of threat posed by NTJ
By Rathindra Kuruwita
Former President Maithripala Sirisena had been informed, on 2 February 2019, of extremist activities by National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ), but the latter did not give him an opportunity to discuss the matter at the National Security Council (NSC), former CID Director Shani Abeysekara on Tuesday (26) night informed the PCoI probing the Easter Sunday attacks. The ex-CID Director said that following their investigations on the vandalizing of Buddha statues at Mawanella in 2018 and the detection of explosives at the Wanathawilluwa Jihadist training camp on January 2019, the CID had informed President Sirisena the gravity of the situation and the threat posed by the NTJ to the country’s national security. “On February 2, 2019, during a meeting with former President Maithripala Sirisena at his residence, former CID SDIG Ravi Seneviratne informed Sirisena of the threat posed by NTJ to the country’s national security. Presdent Sirisena informed us that he would give us an opportunity to discuss the matter at the NSC.
However, the CID had never got the opportunity, he added. The Commissioners asked the witness whether President Sirisena had been informed that Zahran Hashim was behind the Mawanella and Wanathawilluwa incidents. Abeysekara said that it was unlikely that Sirisena would focus on one person because he had been informed of the NTJ. He added that the NTJ’s plan was to carry out an attack in May 2020, but that plan changed after the raid of the jihadist camp. The Commissioners also asked the witness about the release of two suspects arrested at the jihadist camp. Abeysekara said that in February 2019 there was a meeting with former Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando and former Western Province Governor Azath Salley and during that meeting Salley had asked them to release these suspects.”I didn’t want to grant the request because those suspects were under detention and were to be questioned. Later, CID CI Janaka Marasinghe, who was in charge of the investigation, gave me a report saying that there was insufficient evidence against the two men. I had to release them.”
Abeysekara was also asked why the CID had failed to arrest Zahran Hashim. The CID usually traced a suspect by tracking a person’s phone connection and call details, he said. “Zahran and his team had used an app named ‘Threema’ to make calls. That was the reason why we couldn’t locate him.”
SF claims thousands of police and military personnel leaving
By Saman Indrajith
Thousands of police and military personnel had left the services recently as they did not want to carry out illegal orders, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka told Parliament yesterday. According to the war-winning army commander 200 policemen have resigned during the past two months and 25,000 soldiers have left the army during the last two years.
“We urged the law enforcement and military officials not to follow illegal orders. We will reinstate them with back pay,” he said.
Fonseka also urged the President and the government MPs not to take people for fools.
“Sri Lanka owes 55 billion dollars to the world. Ranil’s plan is to borrow another seven billion during the next four years. So, in four years we will owe 62 billion to the world.
Ranil and his ministers ask us what the alternative to borrowing is. These are the people who destroyed the economy and society. They must leave. Then, we will find an alternative and develop the country,” he said, adding that the IMF loans had made crises in other nations worse.
“Ranil says that by 2025, we will have a budget surplus as in Japan, Germany and South Korea. These countries are economic power houses, and this comparison is ludicrous.”
CEB hit by exodus of technical staff
By Shiran Ranasinghe
At least five technical personnel of the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) resigned daily for overseas employment, a senior CEB official said.They included electrical engineers, electricians and foremen, he added.
“Most of them are quitting due to the economic crisis while others are simply disillusioned. Trained and experienced technical staff are in high demand in many countries,” he said.
CEB United Trade Union Alliance President Ranjan Jayalal said that the CEB had lost about 2,000 employees in recent times due to the above reasons.
“We had about 24,000 such personnel a few months ago. Now the number has come down to 22,000. A number of people had to retire on 31 December, 2022.
Sajith questions sudden decision to charge Rs. 225,000 from students following NDES
By Saman Indrajith
The government had decided to charge Rs 225,000 from those enrolling at the Institute of Engineering Technology, Katunayake under the National Apprentice and Industrial Training Authority (NAITA), Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa said yesterday in Parliament.
Premadasa said that the institute awards the National Diploma in Engineering Sciences (NDES) and no fee was charged from students until 2023.The IET awards the National Diploma in Engineering Sciences under the three major fields of civil, electrical and mechanical engineering, and eight sub-fields.
“This is an institute that has created over ten thousand tier two engineers. NDES is a four year programme,” he said.
The opposition leader said that the sudden decision to charge 225,000 rupees from students at a time when the average Sri Lankan family is facing significant economic challenges is unfair.
“This institute offered free tuition. We should continue this tradition. A large number of engineers are leaving the country and we need to ensure that we have a continuous supply of engineers to ensure we can maintain our essential technical services,” he said.
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