Jungle Telegraph

25th February 2001

By Alia

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A canard

India's elite Black Cat commandos and even her own personal security staff were somewhat alarmed when there was a momentary power blackout at Taj Palace Hotel, but President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga kept her calm.

It came when she was facing the CNN cameras and South Asia Bureau Chief, Satinder Bindra, at an exclusive interview.

The hotel is located only a short distance away from the Sri Lanka High Commission at Chanakyapuri in New Delhi – the diplomatic enclave.

When the power supply returned, she fielded a question with equal calm. The query was when she was congratulated over a family betrothal. "Its absolutely untrue. It was a UNP plot," she replied.

The canard, which originated whilst she was on a five week stay in London, last December, had even reached other parts of the world.

Air attack on Navy

Navy top brass are furious over remarks made by a former Air Force Commander.

Air Marshal Oliver Ranasinghe, who has himself been at the centre of controversy during his tenure due to falling planes and over procurements, has this to say about the Navy in a letter he wrote to President Kumaratunga.

"As a young pilot in the 1960s I have carried out patrols over the sea looking out for illegal immigrants that were coming to Sri Lanka from India. We use to spot them very often and our responsibility was to report the position and description to the Sri Lanka Navy.

"We have spotted boats with two to three outboard motors skimming the water. Unfortunately to my knowledge we were never successful in taking into custody any such boats or people since the Navy took a long time to reach the area. Sometimes the delay was days. As such the boats got away either to Indian waters or to the coast.

"Today, even after three decades the scenario has not changed. This time instead of illegal immigrants it is terrorist boats that skim the water…..", says Air Marshal Ranasinghe.

A Navy response is due soon, says an insider.

Shopping list

Barely weeks after Pakistan's military ruler, General Pervaiz Musharaff offered an attractive credit line for the military to make its urgent procurements from Pakistan, a top Army official from Islamabad is in Sri Lanka.

He was busy meeting his local counterparts to prepare the shopping list.

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