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The involvement of politicians' bodyguards in the recent Anamaduwa violence is being probed by Police, at the higher levels, fears are being expressed that Sri Lanka is again seeing a reign of terror and criminalisation of politics.
"We are trying to find out whether bodyguards of local politicians had got involved in the shooting incidents in the area", a top Police Officer said in the aftermath of the violence where scores of UNP members and supporters were injured while houses and property were heavily damaged.
He said bodyguards of all politicians who were around the area during the time of the violence had been told to report to the Chilaw SP to have their weapons checked.
He said the bodyguards were legally required to report about spent ammunition after any incident and the police would be checking whether this law had been broken.
Opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe's bodyguards also have been summoned to the ministerial security division to have their weapons checked.
Two bodyguards of Mr. Wickremesinghe and one security personnel of UNP MP Ronnie de Mel had presented themselves on Friday at the MSD for their weapons to be checked.
UNP sources said these guards had been away in Kataragama on duty when the Anamaduwa incident took place. They had gone to the area only on Tuesday when the UNP held its meeting.
The officer said the police had recorded statements of all persons injured in the incident, but none of them had been able to identify the attackers.
The violence broke out when UNP supporters were decorating the Anamaduwa town for a meeting to be addressed by Mr. Wickremesinghe. As the UNP supporters were decorating the streets, PA supporters also started decorating the streets from the other end.
A Senior Police Officer in the area confirmed that the PA did not have a permit to conduct a meeting in the area and it was only the UNP which had permission.
Reports from the area said houses of several UNP supporters had been attacked.
UNP General Secretary, Gamini Athukorale told The Sunday Times that a full investigation should be held into the Anamaduwa reign of terror.
Mr. Athukorale in a statement on the incident said:
"A reign of terror was unleashed a few days ago, to disrupt and prevent the UNP rally at Anamaduwa. People were shot at. Public and private property were attacked. Trees felled across main roads completely paralysing public transport. The venue of the meeting and its environs were reduced to a ghost town.
"While all this were happening, the police turned a blind eye and Now is refusing to take action. They claim that no complaints have been received. The fact is that all those who were injured have made statements to the police."
Despite all this the UNP held its rally as planned.
"Thuggery, intimidation and terror planned and executed by leading PA politicians of the area were contained a large extent with the support extended by the public."
Meanwhile UNP MP Mahinda Samarasinghe has written to Speaker, K. B. Ratnayake to take appropriate measures to ensure protection for MPs.
Mr. Samarasinghe has cited the incident at Anamaduwa on April 2 where in a group of UNP supporters making preparations for a party meeting scheduled for the same day, were attacked and shot at by a mob of persons, resulting in serious injuries being inflicted on several UNP activists. As there were MPs also present at this time they could quite easily have been the target of such attack, he said.
He charged that despite the seriousness of the assault, the local police had failed to take action against the offenders.
"The mute acceptance of this kind of criminal activity by the guardians of the law is bound to have disastrous consequences," he said and requested the Speaker to take appropriate measures to ensure that adequate safety measures are provided to MPs. He asked the Speaker to request the police to take impartial and speedy action which would be essential to prevent "the criminalisation of politics in the country. "
Shivanthini Dharmasiri, a British-educated science graduate was crowned as Miss. Sri Lanka 1996 at the premier beauty pageant held last Sunday. She will represent Sri Lanka at the Miss Universe 1996. The Sunday Times was the official newspaper at the Miss Sri Lanka pageant. See Plus for related stories.
Major Tamil Nadu political parties, like the ruling AIADMK and the opposition DMK, which have released their election manifestos, have avoided mentioning the term "Eelam" in these documents.
The AIADMK, an avowedly Tamil ethnic party, said in its manifesto, that the trials and tribulations of the Lankan Tamils were causing concern and promised that it would put pressure on New Delhi to see that they get their rights and live in dignity.
"The Lankan Tamils' struggle has our moral support. But we will never allow the Lankan Tamil militants to use Tamil Nadu as a base," the AIADMK said.
The party, clearly, has no view on what kind of solution should be found for the problem of the Lankan Tamils. It seems it just wants the war to end for the sake of the Tamils. At any rate, the AIADMK does not want the Lankan Tamil militants, including the LTTE, in Tamil Nadu.
The DMK, which tends to strike a more radical pose on the question, claiming to be a "genuine" Tamil party, said it would press New Delhi to shed its apathy and the policy of non-involvement and take an "interest" in finding a solution acceptable to the Tamils of the island.
DMK's stand, though not reiterated in the manifesto, has been that the Lankan Tamils should be left to chalk out their own course.
The UNP is unlikely to participate in the debate on a motion to be moved by the Government on Tuesday to invalidate the civic disability imposed on Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike in 1980. She was the leader of the opposition then.
A senior UNP spokesman told 'The Sunday Times' last night that they would finally decide on the issue tomorrow.
The UNP is also undecided whether to allow a request from its National List MP Anura Bandaranaike to invoke the provisions of the conscience vote available to UNP MPs when the motion about his mother is taken up.
Mr. Bandaranaike has written to current opposition leader, and UNP boss Ranil Wickremesinghe for permission to make use of the conscience vote on the motion which is being presented in Parliament to coincide with the 80th birthday of Ms. Bandaranaike falling on Wednesday 17.
Although Mr. Bandaranaike has sought permission to vote according to his conscience under the UNP constitution an MP of the party is not allowed to vote against a party decision.
Unless the UNP decides to vote in favour of the motion Mr. Bandaranaike will not be able to vote in favour. He could only refrain from voting against it, at best.
The UNP's decision whether it would take part in the debate at all would also depend on the PA speakers listed for the debate, sources said.
They said that the party may ask for a commitment from the PA not to attack former President J. R. Jayewardene and late President Ranasinghe Premadasa in the event they do not oppose the motion.
Tuesday's motion to be moved by Justice Minister, G. L. Peiris has been seen as a symbolic gesture to honour Ms. Bandaranaike who completes 35 years in active politics and to 'right a wrong' as the Government puts it as the motion does not give any legal status.
Mr. Anura Bandaranaike who was with the SLFP at the time the UNP proposed civic disabilities on his mother preventing her from contesting elections voted against the UNP move. He became leader of the opposition when Ms. Bandaranaike had to withdraw from Parliament. Ms. Bandaranaike was deprived of her civic rights after a special Presidential Commission found her guilty of abuse and misuse of power from 1970 to 77 as Prime Minister.
The CEB has decided not to impose power cuts today in view of Easter Sunday, a senior CEB official said.
CEB Vice Chairman Neil Perera said the decision was taken after it was confirmed that catchment areas were getting rains.
Asked whether the relaxation was in view of today's cricket match in Singapore between Sri Lanka and Pakistan, Mr. Perera said there had been several requests from cricket fans to that effect.
He also said power cut times in Colombo suburbs would be changed on alternate days from Monday.
'For instance, on Monday the power cut will be from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. and on Tuesday it will be from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.' he said.
The Ceylon Electricity Board has admitted that it did not take adequate measures to overcome the present power crisis, but has assured that steps were being taken to avert a similar situation in future.
Mr. Herath said the CEB would give BOI companies grants and concessions to import big generators and produce their own electricity.
This measure is expected to help tide over the present power crisis. The private sector would also be allowed to import generators tax-free, he said.
CEB Chief Mr. Herath told 'The Sunday Times', "It is true the engineers warned us about a power crisis. However, even though they told us in time there was a go-slow. The engineers union refused to speak to the management. They had their own demands. Yet we managed to have talks. There was nothing we could do."
Dr. Herath agreed that if a power cut was introduced a few months earlier the five-hour power cut could have been averted.
When asked if the CEB intends to extend the five-hour power cut, Dr. Hearth said it was the last thing he wanted to do right now. However he added that if things got worse, they would have to extend the power cuts.
Criminal defamation action filed by the Attorney General against the Editor of 'The Sunday Times' on a complaint made by the President, came up for hearing before Colombo High Court Judge, Upali T.Z. Gunawardena on Thursday.
Asitha Perera, MP (Liberation Party/Sri Lanka Muslim Congress), Assistant Commissioner of the Press Council, S. Perera and Director National Archives, Dr. K.D.G. Wimalaratne gave evidence.
The trial resumes on April 22.
Police are probing the bomb attack on the residence of Nuwara Eliya Mayor, Thilaka Herath, which left one person dead and five injured.
The attack by a gang of about 20 took place around 1 a.m. on Friday after the Municipality decided to construct temporary stalls for the festive season, in a property owned by a religious centre.
Police said yesterday they believed this was a clash between two rival groups in the UNP, but no arrests have been made yet.
The person killed has been identified as W.R.M. Gunawardena, while the injured are being treated in hospital.
Nine Tigers, two soldiers and two civilians were killed in fresh clashes in the North and East of where over 130 persons have been killed within the week, according to the military.
In the latest incident, nine Tigers were killed in the Chankanai area in Jaffna in a confrontation on Friday. Their bodies were recovered along with six weapons, seven magazines and 225 rounds of T 56 ammunition, the Defence Ministry said.
The two soldiers were killed in Kilinochchi while troops were on a clearing operation on Friday. The LTTE used claymores, mortars and small arms to attack while soldiers retaliated with artillery and small arms fire.
Eight soldiers were wounded in the incident. Two civilians were also killed and two others injured when they were attacked while they were on their way to collect firewood in the Welioya area on Friday.
In a separate incident on Friday, a TELO member was injured in an LTTE attack in Vavunathivu, Batticaloa. The incident came after 18 police commandos were killed in an LTTE attack in the Pulukunawa area of the Ampara district on Friday morning .
At least 100 LTTE cadres have been killed, mainly in the Jaffna peninsula this week, according to the military.
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