As the Police struggle to maintain law and order in the North amidst increasing incidents of sword gangs terrorising the region, Chief Minister C. V. Wigneswaran has proposed that if the Northern Provincial Council (NPC) is given police powers, he can bring the situation under control within two months. Responding to media queries on the [...]


Wigneswaran seeks police powers to fight sword gangs in North


As the Police struggle to maintain law and order in the North amidst increasing incidents of sword gangs terrorising the region, Chief Minister C. V. Wigneswaran has proposed that if the Northern Provincial Council (NPC) is given police powers, he can bring the situation under control within two months.

Responding to media queries on the current situation in the North, the Chief Minister claimed that if adequate Tamil speaking personnel were deployed in the police service under the command structure of the NPC for provincial civil security purposes, violent sword groups could be controlled with the support of the people and effective community policing strategies.

He said that in the North, most of the police personnel were from the South, they were very more concerned about their own security than maintaining law and order in the region. They also lacked community support because of communications problems.

However, the NPC’s Opposition Leader S. Thavarasa criticised the Chief Minister’s call for police powers to be vested in the Provincial Council. He said the council had a poor track record in exercising powers on subjects already devolved to the council in terms of the 13th Amendment.
He cited an old Tamil proverb which says “a person who cannot catch the cock-bird on the roof top of the house, is dreaming of catching the moon.”

No takers for ceremonial CDS post: Should it be scrapped?
One of the coveted positions in Sri Lanka’s defence establishment – the post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) – falls vacant on September 3.
The present incumbent, Admiral Ravi Wijegunaratne, who is on an extended tenure, is expected to retire on this day. Who will succeed him has become the talking point in the defence establishment.

The position is usually held by the senior most armed forces commander who retires from office. However, Lt. Gen. Mahesh Senanayake, who is next in line has been given a year’s extension as Army Commander. That will help him continue in service till late next year.

The other in line is Air Marshal Kapila Jayampathy, whose term has also been extended as Commander of the Sri Lanka Air Force until mid-next year.
Defence Ministry officials say both these senior most officers have said they would wish to continue in their present positions instead of moving a slot higher. The reasons are understandable – there is limited command and control under a CDS and the position has turned more ceremonial.

This is particularly after the military defeat of the Tiger guerrillas in May 2009. The position of CDS was then created to co-ordinate counter terrorism operations by the Army, Navy, Air Force and the Police. With the war ended, Defence Ministry officials say that the office has become virtually obsolete.

Even during situations where there are natural disasters, different services have been carrying out their own relief operations with little or no recourse to the CDS. Hence, some are of the view that the post should be scrapped and money spent diverted to training and equipping troops.

SB and Dilan no-ball journalists to protect Sumathipala
Journalists who tried to pose questions on cricket to ‘The Group of 16’ MP Thilanga Sumathipala at a media briefing on Friday were prevented from doing so by fellow parliamentarians Dilan Perera and S.B. Dissanayake. They were acting as censors. Mr Perera objected vehemently to any questions on cricket being asked from Mr Sumathipala, warning journalists that they ‘should not connect politics to cricket.’

Mr Perera’s warning is ironic given that Mr. Sumathipala is the former President of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), former Deputy Speaker of Parliament and current MP in ‘The Group of 16’ now supporting the Joint Opposition. Having also indicated that he intends to contest the next SLC election, Mr Sumathipala is the living embodiment of politics connected to cricket.

Journalists would also have wanted to question Mr Sumathipala after he again publicly brought up match-fixing allegations dating back to the 1990s. These charges were against Cricket World Cup winners Arjuna Ranatunga and Aravinda de Silva. This led to Mr. Ranatunga, now Minister of Petroleum Resources Development, and Aravinda de Silva holding a media conferenc to strongly refute the allegations.

Parliamentarians Perera and Dissanayake objected to the questions on the grounds that their media briefing had been convened to discuss politics, most notably, their insistence that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa should be sworn in as Prime Minister before the next National New Year in April. Though journalists pointed out that the topic was now finished and asked they be allowed to pose some questions to Mr Sumathipala on sports, the request was denied.

Horana principal acts without principles
Some of the principals are known to go beyond the existing circulars and laws in maintaining schools administration.
One such incident was reported two weeks ago from a school in Horana. The principal sent a note to the parents that it was compulsory to attend a general meeting as well as separate meetings for parents of grades 1 to 5.

It was his last paragraph in the letter that surprised the parents. The warning has said if the parents cannot attend the two meetings they will be compelled to admit their child to another school. The Education Ministry’s attention has now been drawn as to how a principal could warn parents that their children could be removed from school if the parents did not attend meetings?


University ragging: Offenders warned of ten-year jail term
With the continuing menace of ragging plaguing the state university system, the University Grants Commission and the Ministry of Higher Education this week placed half page newspaper advertisements warning students of serious consequences if they indulge in ragging.
The notice has been addressed to all students and parents of state universities and higher education institutes. It brings to their notice the provisions of the Prohibition of Ragging and Other forms of Violence in Educational Institutions Act No: 20 of 1988. Offences under this act are non bailable and carry sentences up to 10 years rigorous imprisonment.
Ragged students have been asked to contact the UGC immediately or call the 24-hour hotline 2123700. If the environment is not conducive to make a direct complaint, victims are advised to visit the special centre established at the UGC in person to lodge such complaints.

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