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A suspension imposed on Sirasa news broadcasts after it made an erroneous news flash that an island wide curfew had been declared was lifted yesterday - but its news editor has also resigned.
The ban was lifted on the direction of Media Minister Dharmasiri Senanayake.
The Minister has also granted MTV's request for the operation of a second channel and MTV will shortly begin broadcasts of BBC World Service.
Meanwhile, News Director of YES FM, Sirasa FM and MTV, Sugeeswara P. Senadhira has resigned with immediate effect accepting moral responsibility for the erroneous news flash broadcast on Sirasa FM on April 8.
In a statement Mr. Senadhira said: "Although I had neither written nor authorised the broadcast of the erroneous news flash I decided to resign in the interest of the two organisations, the MBC Networks and the MTV Ltd., and to ensure continuous employment of my colleagues in the News Division of MBC/MTV. I had submitted the resignation on the understanding that no other media personnel in the organisation would be penalised for the erroneous news flash." Speaking on another aspect of this crisis, Mr. Senadhira said: "I would like to emphasise my disgust over the indifference and the callous attitude of the Managing Director who had always been contemptuous towards the Sri Lankan press, visual media, media personnel, and even politicians.
"I wish to urge the authorities not to allow foreigners to control the radio/TV/press in our country as I had witnessed direct and subtle attempts by foreigners to manipulate powerful media organizations. However, I wish to express my gratitude to the Maharaja Chairman Rajamahendran and Group Director Mano Wickramanayake for giving me adequate freedom to run the news division."
More than 50 persons have been interrogated but mystery surrounds the murder of Dr. Pubudhu Tillakeratne who was slain at his Gangodawila residence on Wednesday night.
Dr. Tillakeratne (34) who was attached to the Maharagama Cancer Hospital was found killed in his bed while he was sleeping soon after midnight on Wednesday. At the time he had been sleeping with his 3-year-old son while his wife had been sleeping on the floor close to them.
The wife reportedly said the killers had threatened her and asked where the jewellery was, then gagged and locked her up in the next room with their son. She later broke loose and raised cries..
First reports said the killers had taken away a gold chain and ring, but detectives feel robbery might not have been the only motive.
Experts including the Government. Analyst and the Judicial Medical Officer of Colombo South visited the scene of the crime yesterday. Investigations are continuing.
Meanwhile the funeral of Dr. Tillakeratne took place in his home town of Galle yesterday.
Friends said he was a compassionate person much loved by the patients and others. Dr. Tillakeratne and his family moved into the new one store residence at Gangodawila only last week
By Ratnapala Gamage
After a lapse of almost a year the doors to Jaffna were officially flung open to the outside world.
Journalists were taken on a conducted tour in Jaffna on Wednesday, for the first time after Tamil rebels renewed their fighting with security forces almost a year ago.
The tour provided the journalists an opportunity to visit some of the areas re-captured by troops and also to speak freely to civilians returning to their homes.
Liberated from the LTTE military rule, citizens in the Jaffna peninsula are once again beginning to experience the freedom of living under civilian administration.
Tens of thousands of war-weary civilians clutching to their belongings were seen returning to their homes on bicycles, carts, tractors and some of them even on foot after spending days along dusty unrepaired roadsides in the Thenmaratchchy.
Many of the buildings, including the once famous Jaffna Kachcheri and some of the schools were badly damaged,
During the tour it was clear that the Jaffna citizens were determined to begin their normal life as soon as possible, but initially they would have to depend on the dry rations provided by the Government.
Provisions were expensive with a kilo of rice at Rs. 65 and a litre of Kerosine at Rs. 125 . Private transport charges too are still high -a kilometer by a three wheeler costs Rs. 80.
But things are changing for better. There were clear signs of civilian administration returning to normal. Over 300 Grama Sevaka officers were already attending to their work.
One of the notable differences in Jaffna was that vehicles bearing Sri number plates were seen on the roads.
One thing was certain, that today people of Jaffna can speak against the LTTE.
A three wheeler driver said that the rule of the Tiger has ended happily for everyone.
The Kilali lagoon area is now under Army control. The only sign of former Tiger activity was an ambulance and a bus jutting out from the lagoon water.
At the Jaffna General Hospital where there were 61 physicians 41 have returned to work . But the operating theatres are still not used. The only surgeon here had been forced to leave by the LTTE. He was sent to Pt.Pedro but now is in Colombo according to R. Padmanathan the Administrative officer of the Hospital.
One complaint is that the Jaffna civilians still have no Banks or postal facilities. Schools have yet to be opened. The distribution of food needs to be improved. Things are too costly yet, according to civilians. But people are keeping on returning to their villages with the only hope that this time that the peace would last.
A science teacher, Ms. Rasanayagam said she came back to Jaffna as things are normal now. When we told her that the LTTE has in its misinformation campaign told some countries that the Sri Lankan army was in the habit of raping Tamil girls, she said that it was not true.
A teacher attached to Earlalai Govt. School said that she was happy to be back after leaving her home due to Operation Riviresa. But the cost of living is somewhat high, she said.
Many of the Tiger monuments at road junctions were no more which is almost an indication that the army and civilians would never again allow Tiger domination in the area.
Many civilians told "The Sunday Times" that it would be a major transformation from LTTE rule to civil administration and it was up to the Government to help by sending in regular supplies to keep the Jaffna population going until it is able to stand on their feet.
"It is a matter of time until we get the necessary help to restart our cultivation and our own industries to make our own living", farmer K. Kanapathipillai said.
Minister of Livestock Development S. Thondaman in a congratulatory message to the Chief Minister- elect of Tamil Nadu, M. Karunanidhi, has said:
"Your annihilation of Ms. Jayalalitha and her entourage who wielded unbridled and unchecked power in Tamil Nadu is a clear and unambiguous rejection of the policies pursued by the previous regime and an emphatic endorsement of the policies and programmes of the DMK, by the Tamil Nadu electorate.
Your victory at the elections is not only for the people of Tamil Nadu but is also a sign of hope for Tamils all over the world, who will look upon you to provide dynamic and meaningful leadership in promoting and safeguarding the interests of the Tamil people."
The message adds: "In this regard the policy pursued by your predecessor in denying entry to educational institutions in Tamil Nadu to Sri Lankan Tamil children can be counted as one of the potent reasons for Ms. Jayalalitha's debacle at the polls."
"I wish you and the Tamil Nadu Government, that you will form, unqualified success in your goal in providing the political leadership to the millions of people who swept you into power and those other millions of people all over the world who will look to you to champion their cause and remove the impediments placed on Tamil children of Sri Lanka from pursuing their higher education in educational institutions in Tamil Nadu," says the message.Continue to the News/Comment page 2
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