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SJB wants real mastermind of Easter Sunday carnage traced

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By Saman Indrajith

The SJB demanded in Parliament on Saturday (5) that the government shift its focus from those who had been under the command of Zahran Hashim the ringleader of those who carried out the Easter Sunday terror attacks to those who masterminded the attack.

 SJB Galle District MP Manusha Nanayakkara accused the government of not doing enough to grant relief to those who had lost their loved ones.

 Participating in the third reading stage debate on budget 2021, MP Nanayakkara said: Some 350 persons were killed and around 500 wounded. The family members of victims suffered losss. Who suffered the biggest political loss? It was the yahapalana government. It lost power. Therefore, it is obvious that the yahapalana government did not engineer the Easter Sunday attacks. Then who achieved the biggest political gain? It is the political camp now in the government. I do not say that they engineered the terror attacks either. After it was first revealed by Minister Wijayadasa Rajapakshe in this House that there were ISIS terrorists in the country, there were investigations under TID chief DIG Nalaka Silva. He investigated the matter and sought permission to arrest Zahran Hashim, who had been identified as a threat to national security. The request for the permission goes to the highest office. What happened then? A person named Namal Kumara claimed there was a conspiracy to assassinate the then President and DIG Nalaka Silva was involved in it. The person who sought permission to arrest Zahran was put behind bars and investigations into ISIS operations in Lanka came to an end. Then there was the 52-day government, which plunged the country into chaos; no UNP leader was allowed to attend the National Security Council. Only the likes of Thilanga Sumathipala, Dilan Perera and Dayasiri Jayasekera were invited to the NSC meetings. During those months prior to the Easter Sunday attacks, issues related to Zahran’s operations had been taken up several times at the NSC meetings.  Today, these facts are revealed before the Easter Sunday Commission. Why the then President did not take action as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces is not a matter for me to discuss. There had been warnings of the impending attacks. Even on the day of the attacks, the President flew from Thirupathi to Singapore despite being informed of the incidents. It has now been revealed that many had received prior information about the terror attacks. It is said that MP Harin Fernando’s father had been aware of them. There were some others. Who instructed TNA MP M. A. Sumanthiran not to go to Church on that day? It was the then Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa who instructed MP Sumanthiran not to go to church on that day. Rajapaksa had come to know about the threat from his security detail. The Ministerial Security Division had been aware of the warning. Batticaloa District TNA MP Shanakiyan Rajaputhiran Rasamanickam: It should be corrected. MP Sumanthiran was in Batticaloa. I was there with him when the then Opposition Leader Rajapaksa called him. It was not to warn against going to church because the call came after the incident.

MP Nanayakkara: This information came to MSD on April 14. The MSD officers were told that there was a letter in Colombo and asked them to come and pick it up. It was many days later after the attack we saw the letter. There is a serious issue that has surfaced now before the Easter Sunday Commission. Senior DIG Ravi Seneviratne has told the Commission that Zahran’s group was linked to ISIS by a local agent of ISIS. Who is that local agent? He is the one who controlled Zahran. He is the one who paid salaries for weapons training? He was the one who paid the salaries to the family members of those who went abroad on their absence. Why has he not been arrested yet? Why Sarah Jasmine, the wife of Muhammadu Hastun, who detonated a suicide bomb at St. Sebastian’s Church in Katuwapitiya on Easter Sunday has not been arrested, yet. She was allowed to flee to India after she made vital revelations of the names of the persons who paid for Zahran and others. Zahran’s wife’s testimony was recorded in camera, not allowing the media to know what she said. She, too, has revealed some names. Thereafter, the sittings of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry were suspended stating that it was owing to COVID-19. Now, there is a serious threat to the lives of those who have given evidence.

Public Security Minister Dr Sarath Weerasekera: There are 271 persons in custody. There were eight incidents and all the evidence and documents are with the Attorney General, who is due to file cases before courts. It is the yahapalana regime that should take the responsibility for the security failure. It neglected national security. It was during your time that the intelligence operatives and war heroes were put behind bars. Those factors led to the security failure.

MP Nanayakkara: Those in custody had been arrested during the time of the previous government. Tell the House whether your government made any arrests. We must respect war heroes. There is no doubt about it, but should we respect those who make use of the very same uniform of the war heroes to kill innocents, abduct children, take ransom and harass the media? The government’s investigations are focussed on the aftermath of the incident. We are asking the government to pay attention to the events prior to the incident and arrest those who directed the terror attacks and those who had links to the terrorists.

SJB Gampaha District MP Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka: Those in custody are just those who did menial jobs. You should arrest the masterminds and those responsible for funding the Zahran group. Arrest those who had been above the rank of Zahran not those who were below him.



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Death threats won’t deter us – EC Chairman

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Nimal Punchihewa (Chairman ECSL) picture by PRIYAN DE SILVA
Chairman of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka Nimal Punchihewa told The Island that members of  the election commission won’t be deterred by death threats.
He said that members of the commission  M M Mohamed,  K P P Pathirana and S B Diwarathne have been repeatedly threatened and the police have not been able to apprehend the perpetrators.
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Three people dead after torrential rain in New Zealand

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At least three people have died due to flash flodding in Auckland (picture BBC)

BBC reported that at least three people have died and one is missing after New Zealand’s largest city experienced its “wettest day on record” on Friday.

Auckland is said to have received 75% of its usual summer rainfall in just 15 hours.

A local state of emergency was declared as authorities managed evacuations and widespread flooding.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Chris Hipkins thanked emergency services for their swift response to the disaster.The new prime minister travelled to Auckland, where he also expressed his condolences to the loved ones of those who died in the floods.

“The loss of life underscores the sheer scale of this weather event and how quickly it turned tragic”, he said in a news conference on Saturday afternoon.

The downpour flooded the airport, shifted houses and resulted in power cuts to homes for hours.

New Zealand’s defence forces were mobilised to assist with evacuations and emergency shelters were set up across the city.

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Parliament prorogued on Friday night

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President says cabinet agreeable to fully implementing 13 A until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment

Parliament was prorogued from midnight Friday (27) by President Ranil Wickremesinghe under powers vested in him by Article 70 of the Constitution, parliamentary sources said on Friday.

The Department of Government Printing was due to issue the relevant notification on Friday night but it was not out as this edition went to print.However the President’ Media Division (PMD) confirmed the prorogation on Friday evening saying that President Wickremesinghe “is expected” to make a policy statement based on the decisions taken after the 75th Independence anniversary when parliament recommences on Feb.8.

A separate bulletin said that the president had informed the party leaders Conference on Reconciliation that the cabinet was agreeable to “fully implementing (the) 13th Amendment until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment.”

Parliamentary sources explained that a prorogation which is a temporary recess of parliament, should not extend to a period of more than two months, However, such date for summoning parliament may be advanced by another presidential proclamation provided it is summoned for a date not less than three days from the date of such fresh proclamation.

Political observers believe that the prorogation is related to the president’s effort to secure as wide a consensus as possible on the National Question. They dismissed speculation that it is related to the scheduled local elections. This issue was clarified by the PMD bulletin.

When parliament is prorogued, the proclamation should notify the date of the commencement of the new session of parliament under Article 70 of the Constitution.During the prorogation the speaker continues to function and MPs retain their membership of the legislature even though they do not attend meetings of the House.

The effect of a prorogation is to suspend all current business before the House and all proceedings pending at the time are quashed except impeachments.A Bill, motion or question of the same substance cannot be introduced for a second time during the same session. However, it could be carried forward at a subsequent session after a prorogation.

“All matters which having been duly brought before parliament, have not been disposed of at the time of the prorogation, may be proceeded with during the next session,” states the paragraph (4) of article 70 of the constitution.

In the light of this constitutional provision, a prorogation does not result in an end to pending business. Thus, a pending matter may be proceeded with from that stage onwards after the commencement of the new session.

At the beginning of a new session all items of business which were in the order paper need to be re-listed, if it is desired to continue with them.At the end of a prorogation a new session begins and is ceremonially declared open by the president.

He is empowered under the constitution to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each session of parliament and to preside at ceremonial sittings of parliament in terms of the provisions of paragraph (2) of article 33 of the constitution.The president is empowered to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each new session. In the past, it was known as the Throne Speech which was delivered by the Governor-General.

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