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29th October 2000
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No rewards for man of courage

By Chandani Kirinde
The young man who gave chase to the suicide bomber who exploded himself at the Town hall on October 19 and helped avert a bigger disaster is lying critically injureds at the general hospital, ignored by authorities who handed out handsome cash rewards to a number of others for giving chase to the terrorist.

Anusha Kumari with her childThe young man K.A.Ajith (29) a resident of Hunupitiya had given chase to the terrorist and stopped him from running towards the town hall bus stand possibly saving the lives of many more innocents.

Had the bomber exploded himself at the bus stand, which is a crowded place on most hours of the day, many more people would have been killed, an eyewitness to the incident S.K.Sudharshana Wickramaratne said.

The Inspector General of Police handed over cash rewards ranging from Rs75,000 to Rs50,000 to a number of policemen and a civilian last Tuesday for their acts of bravery in dealing with the suicide bomber. The policemen were also given promotions.

The two policemen who died in the blast were also promoted posthumously and their family members given financial assistance.

K. A. AjithFamily members of Ajith say although Ajith, a father of a one and half year old daughter, had acted with bravery and was fighting for his life at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the General hospital, police authorities have paid scant attention to his plight.

Asked what criteria was adopted in handing out the rewards, Police spokesman SSP Rienzie Perera said the two civilians identified by the policeman who were on the scene were the ones chosen for the rewards.

He said if anyone else felt they deserved to be rewarded, they must appeal to the Police Department.

However, H.A.Justin, Ajith's father-in-law said he had made a statement to the Cinnamon gardens police station giving details of his son-in-law's role in trying to stop the bomber but were offered no rewards.

Meanwhile, an eye witness Sudharshana, a three wheel driver said he too had made a statement to the CID soon after the incident detailing the role that Ajith had played in chasing the bomber .

He said that around 10.00 a.m. on that fateful day, he was on Park Street taking two passengers when he spotted a man running towards Dharmapala Mawatha. 

Sudharshana had assumed the man was a pick pocket. The man had then got onto Dharmapala Mawatha and started running towards the Town Hall. Sudharshana had followed the man and blocked his path near the Jayawardene Center with his three wheeler.

The man had been speaking on a cellular phone at that time. Just as he was about to get down and confront this man, another red three wheeler pulled up behind and a person, who Sudharshana later discovered was Ajith, had jumped off it and confronted the fleeing man.

H. A. HustinSudharshana could not hear the conversation but realised that Ajith was being threatened by the other man. Within a few seconds Ajith returned to his three wheeler. Sudharshana also left the scene and headed towards Ward Place. Just as he turned into Ward Place, he heard an explosion.

Later he had rushed to the scene of the explosion and identified the dead terrorist as the same person who had been running among Park Street and later Dharmapala Mawatha.

He had later learnt that Ajith had persuaded two policeman who were around to help him chase the terrorist who had crossed the road and run towards the entrance of the Viharamahadevi Park. They had followed the terrorist and when he hid behind a parked van, Ajith and the two policemen had got off the three wheeler and approached the bomber when he exploded himself.

One of the policeman waskilled instantly in the explosion while the other succumbed to his injuries four days later. Ajith was also critically injured in the blast.

Sudharshana pointed out that if Ajith and himself had not blocked the path of the terrorist, he would have run towards the town hall and exploded himself which would have resulted in a greater tragedy.

Anusha Kumari (29), Ajith's wife said her husband had served for ten years in the army.

She said she had heard the explosion and run towards the Town Hall looking for Ajith. Hours later she found him lying in the ICU.

"He is still unable to speak. He opens his eye and seems to be able to recognise us," she said.

"The police have not paid any attention to our plea to listen to Ajith's side of the story. They must record his statement once be becomes conscious and reward him for the role he played," Ajith's father-in-law said.

Ajith earned a living by driving taking hires in three wheeler that belonged to a another person in the area. The three wheeler was kept at the Cinnamon Gardens Police station for a few days after the explosion before it was handed over to the owners, he said.


PA dragging feet over UNP demands, says Tyronne

By Dilrukshi Handunnetti
Having set a December 31 deadline for the PA to establish independent commissions for the police, public service and elections and the reactivating of the defunct permanent commission probing bribery and corruption, the UNP has called upon the government to create a level playing field for all parties to reach a consensus.

The UNP has already presented the memorandum to Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramenayake, PA general secretary D.M. Jayaratne and all other main political parties .

Colombo district UNP parliamentarian Tyronne Fernando brokering a 'working arrangement' between the PA and UNP told The Sunday Times that a healthy response was expected from the government which would demonstrate its willingness to conform to democratic and consensual politics.

Mr. Fernando said the UNP has been criticized for pressurizing the government to set-up the three commissions . " Naturally, grabbing political power and setting up government is the driving force in opposition politics. What we call for is a fair umpire and level playing field where opposition or smaller parties do not get clobbered and the government has a free for all at the election," he said.

He also said that setting up these commissions was not time consuming, though the government seemed to be dragging its feet. " The government pledged to introduce these commissions within weeks if the UNP was willing to support the proposed constitution in August. If they could do it so fast then, Why can't they now," he asked.


Interim injunction against Hatton National Bank

The Colombo District Court last Wednesday issued an interim injunction against the Hatton National Bank (HNB) restraining it from purchasing Sampath Bank shares with funds from the Widows/Widowers and Orphans Pension Fund (WWOPF) of the HNB.

Judge K.T. Chitrasiri issued the interim injunction against the 2nd to 8th defendants including HNB Chief Executive Rienzie Wijethilleke.

The plaintiff, R.S. Jayawardena, an employee of the HNB and Secretary of the HNB branch of the Ceylon Bank Employees' Union, cited the HNB, its Chief Executive and six others as defendants.

The plaintiff in the said action stated inter alia that the 2nd to 8th defendants being members of the management committee of the fund and hence the trustees of all monies in the said fund and being under fiduciary duty to utilise the said monies for and only for the purpose of the said fund and the benefit thereof and/or its members have knowingly and intentionally acted in breach of the said fiduciary and in breach of trust.

He further stated that the monies of the fund and the investments thereof constitute security for the members of the fund and the defendants who are employees and/or who remain beneficiaries of the fund of the HNB consequent to their retirement and that in the circumstances irreparable loss will be caused to the plaintiff and all other contributors of the fund unless the 2nd to 8th defendants are restrained from investing in shares in quoted companies in violation of the rules of the said fund until the final determination of this action.

The plaintiff has prayed for a Court declaration that the 2nd to 8th defendants have acted in breach of their fiduciary duties to the WWOPF and/or the members thereof as well as in breach of the trust reposed in them as trustees of all assets of the fund by making the first investment of Rs 127,467,500 out of the monies belonging to the fund to purchase 1,902,500 shares in Sampath Bank Limited.

Nihal Jayamanne PC with Faiszer Musthapha and M. Sideek instructed by Samararatna Associates appeared for the plaintiff and S. Sivarasa PC with Nihal Fernando and N. Sivendran instructed by Ranjan Tirukeswaran appeared for the defendants.


Festival feast hits stomach

An ice cream parlour at Kalmunai was closed down on Deepavali festival day after more than 100 patients fell ill due to dehydration hours after eating the ice cream.

More than 100 people of whom 90 were children had come to The Kalmunai Base Hospital complaining of abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and vomitting after eating the ice cream, DMO of the hospital M. Gnanakumar said. 

Symptoms of dehydration appeared after about four hours after eating the ice cream, he said. The ice cream shop was closed down immediately by the Regional Epidemiologist after taking samples of the ice cream sold. 


National carrier hires Filipino pilots amidst protest

By M.Ismeth
Questions are being raised over the recruitment of Filipino pilots to the national carrier SriLankan airlines which has been accused of disregarding applications from more than 100 qualified and experienced Sri Lankan pilots, airline sources said.

They said the Filipino officers were being trained at the expense of the national carrier a privilege statutorily reserved for citizens of Sri Lanka. 

"Sri Lankans have to undergo interviews, written exams, medical checks and flight tests whereas the Filipinos were just interviewed and employed without having to undergo any of these procedures," a local official said.

Local officials also said the expatriate pilots got preferential treatment though the Sri Lankan pilots were also recruited for the same job.

They said the airlines had said it did not have sufficient funds to recruit local cadet officers to fill about 150 vacancies but it had funds to employ instructors to train 30 to 40 expatriates at the airline's expense and pay them a salary of US dollars 5000.

The foreigners were recruited without a training bond, whereas a local who is bound by a bond of US dollars 3000, they said adding that some 75 percent of the national carrier's pilots were foreigners.

"Recently the Emirates management hired a Filipino Captain without the airbus rating. The airline had spent well over Rupees two million before realising that the individual could not fly and was not Command Material. He was released from his contract without a penny in default. The money spent could have gone towards training two Sri Lankans as First Officer," another local official said. 

The local officials said that according to Civil Aviation regulations no operator could employ in Sri Lanka in any capacity a person who is not a citizen of Sri Lanka except with the prior approval of the Aviation Director General in writing, unless he is satisfied that no person in Sri Lanka is qualified for that appointment. 


PM chairs meeting with police over election malpractices

Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremenayake at a special meeting at Temple Trees on Friday, has instructed the police to take stringent action against poll malpractices. The move comes in the backdrop of both main parties seemingly working towards a working agreement'.

With speculation rife about a PA-UNP consensus, the Premier invited the SLFP General Secretary S.B. Dissanyake and Gampaha MP John Amaratun-ge to make representations on poll malpractices to Defence Secretary Chandrananda de Silva and acting Police Chief T. E. Anandarajah who too were at the Temple Trees on the Premier's invitation. The meeting was described as 'fruitful and cordial discussion'.

Sources said that the PA and the UNP were subtly working on achieving a working agreement between them, with UNP's Tyronne Fernando pushing the government for a 31st deadline to establish the three independent commissions as priority concerns. 

UNP parliamentarian John Amaratunge said the party deputy leader Karu Jayasuriya along with party legal secretary Daya Pelpola were originally expected to accompany him on Friday, but upon a request by the prime minister to make it a 'common discussion', only one member attended the meeting. 

The invitation by Prime Minister to make joint representations came in the wake of his speech at the inauguration of the new Parliament where he jointly proposed UNP MP Anura Bandaranaike to be the Speaker and invited the UNP to work closely with the government in an attempt to create a new political culture. The UNP had made representations to the acting IGP earlier too. It is learnt that the UNP complained against the inaction of authorities against violators of election laws and had presented a detailed report on alleged election malpractices by the ruling party, UNP sources said.

Both parties have complained about instances where party supporters had been arrested on false complaints and urged stringent and immediate action against perpetrators. Mr. Amaratunge told The Sunday Times that the PM's intervention was a meaningful step.


BBC scribe in sky drama

By Tania Fernando
A BBC correspondent who once served a stint in Sri Lanka was detained briefly at the Heathrow airport following a complaint made by SriLankan Airline crew that he harassed them on the flight from Colombo.

The correspondent, George Arnie, travelling on SriLankan Airlines to London, had from the time he entered the airport been harassing the staff and making various demands, airline sources said.

They said the correspondent, apparently angry over the crew's refusal to give him more drinks, abused the pilot and the crew and disturbed passengers with his unruly behaviour.

A complaint was made at the Heathrow airport Police, who released him after recording a statement.

A SriLankan Airlines official said they had provided necessary information to the London police and were awaiting the outcome of their inquiry.

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