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UNP, AJP won’t be present



Two come from Welikada and B’caloa prisons to take oaths tomorrow

… Chandrakanthan second ex-LTTE cadre to become lawmaker

by Shamindra Ferdinando

Among those scheduled to take oaths as lawmakers tomorrow (20) are Premalal Jayasekera and Sivenesathurai Chandrakanthan a.k.a. Pillayan currently held in the Welikada and Batticaloa prisons, respectively.

The UNP and Ape Janabala Pakshaya wouldn’t attend the inaugural session as both parties couldn’t resolve simmering disputes over the appointment of National List members. Both parties won one NL slot each.

Jayasekera a.k.a. Choka Malli contested Ratnapura district on the SLPP ticket whereas Chandrakanthan a.k.a. Pillayan contested from the Batticaloa District while being in remand custody.

Chandrakanthan backed the SLPP at both presidential and parliamentary elections in Nov 2019 and August 2020. Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa himself visited Chandrakanthan in Oct 2019 to finalise electoral agreement in this regard.

Chandrakanthan, who leads the breakaway LTTE faction TMVP (Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal) was taken into custody in Oct 2015 over his alleged involvement in the assassination of Batticaloa District TNA MP Joseph Pararajasingham inside a church during Christmas mass in 2014.

Chandrakanthan succeeded Karuna Amman as the TMVP leader in 2007.

A senior parliamentary official told The Island that Premalal though being convicted by the Ratnapura High Court over a killing in Kahawatte in January 2015 had appealed against that decision and, therefore, he could be sworn in as an MP. The former UPFA Deputy Minister polled over 140,000 preferential votes and was placed second in the Ratnapura district.

Pillayan, who fought for the LTTE under Karuna, is the second ex-LTTE cadre to enter parliament. The first was Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan alias Karuna Amman, who was accommodated in Parliament on the UPFA ticket during Mahinda Rajapaksa’s first tenure as the President. The UPFA again appointed Karuna to Parliament in 2010 on the National List.

Chandrakanthan also served as the Chief Minister of the Eastern Province.

Karuna was unsuccessful in his attempt to enter parliament from Digamadulla district at the recently concluded general election.


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Cardinal: Was there any link between passage of 20A and Easter Sunday probe outcome?



… stands by his claim of foreign involvement

By Norman Palihawadana

Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith yesterday said that there could be a connection between the outcome of the probe into the Easter Sunday attacks and the enlisting of Muslim MPs’ support for the passage of the 20th Amendment.

The Cardinal said: “The leader of a Muslim political party voted against the 2Oth Amendment. But his MPs voted for it. The brother of Rishad Bathiudeen too was released around the same time. These are questionable developments. These events could be part of a deal.”

The Cardinal reiterated that international forces were behind the Easter Sunday attacks and that he did not believe that there had been any local political group directly involved in the Easter attacks.

Addressing the media yesterday, the Cardinal said that the remarks he made on Sunday had been misunderstood. He stood by his claim that international forces had been behind the attacks, he said.

“However, some people claim that I said a local political group was behind the attack. I have always maintained that there are international forces that use religious and ethnic extremists such as Wahabists to create conflicts. I was referring to such groups.”

The Cardinal added that only a small group of Muslims was involved in extremism.

The Archbishop also said that former President Maithripala Sirisena believed that taking action against extremists like NTJ leader Zahran Hashim would create unnecessary issues.

“Something along these lines is also in the PCoI on Easter Sunday attacks. The report also implies that the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was lenient in dealing with growing extremism in Sri Lanka.”

The Cardinal urged the government to protect the country and ensure that there would be no repeats of incidents like the Easter Sunday attacks.

The Archbishop of Colombo requested all religious leaders to work on rebuilding trust among all communities.



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AG appeals to Supreme Court against granting of bail to Ravi, others



The Attorney General yesterday appealed to the Supreme Court against bail for former Minister Ravi Karunanayake and seven others indicted in the bond case by the Colombo Special High Court Trial-at-Bar.

The eight accused were arrested and remanded over the bond scams. Later, they were released on bail.

The court warned that if the accused attempted to exert influence on the witnesses, by any means, bail would be revoked and they would be placed on remand until the end of the trial.



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26 more coronavirus cases detected in Jaffna Tirunelveli market area



Another 26 COVID-19 cases had been detected on Sunday, from the Tirunelveli Market in Jaffna, which was the epicentre of the recent outbreak in the town, Dr. A. Kethiswaran, Regional Director Health Services told the media yesterday.

The market and its surroundings had been reopened on April 11 following a 19-day lockdown. However, 378 PCR tests were conducted after the Sinhala and Tamil New Year and 26 of them proved positive.

Dr. Kethiswaran warned last week that there might be a spike in COVID-19 cases in Jaffna after the New Year celebrations.

A large number of COVID-19 cases had been reported in Jaffna in the past few weeks. Thus, the people should adhere to health guidelines. If people did not follow the guidelines, there would be a spike in cases and then some places would have to be lockdown, he warned.

“It’s too early to say whether we have to close the area down. We are monitoring the situation,” DR. Kethiswaran said.

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