12th July 1998
Only a tug boat
Most Sri Lankans would have been in their deep slumber last Wednesday night, when the telephones of the high and the mighty went busy.
This was after news arrived in the City that a shipload of military hardware was being unloaded by the LTTE, somewhere in the international shipping lanes off the north east coast. At least one large ship and a small boat had been spotted by electronic devices.
A late night search by air and sea got under way.
It was soon found that there was no such activity. It was just the case of an Indian tug boat passing the area.
The panic was caused by more than one blip showing up on the screen in the electronic device.
Did anyone pinch a letter addressed to the Police Chief, W.B. Rajaguru, by the Ministry of Defence ?
Insiders say CID detectives have been called into investigate the matter after Mr. Rajaguru raised the issue at the highest levels. The letter, they say, related to the extension of his term of office as Inspector General of Police until August 31, this year.
Lion is a lion
Lionair, the private airline this week emerged as the operator of the largest number of flights to Jaffna, both military and civilian.
To cope with the increasing new demands that have arisen, the airline has now acquired a cargo/passenger transport version of the Russian built AN 26.
Coming second is another private airline which operates a flight a day barring a few interruptions.
One opposition Par liamentarian likened it to playing Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark.
Deputy Defence Minister, General Anuruddha Ratwatte, was not there to present the monthly motion in Parliament last Wednesday to extend the state of emergency. Instead it was done by Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Jeyaraj Fernandopulle.
Gen. Ratwatte is down with a minor bronchial ailment and is warded at a Colombo hospital, a very secluded one where visitors are not allowed.
Foreign Ministry offi cials heaved a sigh of relief when they had averted near diplomatic disaster last week. The head of an European diplomatic mission was north bound. The Foreign Ministry to which the application was made had in turn referred it to the Ministry of Defence for clearance which was promptly given.
But the message, Army Headquarters officials said, reached them somewhat late. But certainly in time to ensure the friendly dpl was not put on a return flight to Colombo.
Alls well that ends well remarked one senior Foreign Ministry official.
Senior officials are now trying to ascertain how two of a group of men recruited for a tough job died out of sheer exhaustion.
They were going through the rigours of training in a hilly area when dehydration hit them. The boss flew into a rage on hearing the news. Now a team is going into the matter.
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