26th July 1998
"May your journey through sansara be at an end"
is the prayers conveyed through the eyes of this young monk
as he pays his last respects to his guru, the
Most Ven. Balangoda Ananda Maithriya Mahanayake Thera.
Pix by Ranjith Perera
By Frederica Jansz
Computer hackers at Sri Lanka Telecom surfed on sleazy internet gay porn sites, using Telecommunication Minister Mangala Samaraweera's credit card, and running a $2,000 bill — thrusting him at the centre of a framed-up sex scandal.
CID detectives probing the scandal have uncovered substantial evidence but are yet unable to identify the masterminds. The hi-tech hackers had erased the login names thus destroying evidence of how the porn sites were accessed 32 times using Mr. Samaraweera's credit card.
Detectives suspect the hackers to be part of a group that opposed the privatisation of Sri Lanka Telecom and now bent on taking revenge on the Minister for going ahead with it. The probe will now extend to the Datacom and Internet sections of the SLT where more employees are likely to be questioned.
Mr. Samaraweera's computer has been serviced by two internet service providers (ISPs)- Lanka Internet Services and Sri Lanka Telecom.
It has been revealed that his account with Lanka Internet Services had remained at zero with the services not being obtained for the past eight months. But before this was known, CID detectives summoned officials of Lanka Internet Services to the Fourth Floor for questioning.
The company said it would reveal customer details only on a court order. The matter was not pursued thereafter.
However, it has not been so in the case of Sri Lanka Telecom where the porn sites have been accessed 32 times. That has been billed to the Media Minister's official credit card. Mr. Samaraweera has not only denied he accessed these sites but has also pointed out that access had been obtained only after details of his credit card became public knowledge. In other words, it was after allegations that he used his official credit card to pay for personal items.
The Sunday Times was told by computer experts that no ordinary user of computers could commit such an act. It would have to be someone at the system providers end who was in a position to do so. All they had to do was to change the user's internet address and the password.
Since details of Mr. Samaraweera's official credit card appeared in the media, he feels that someone had used the number to gain access to the porn sites. It has now transpired that the media did not publish the expiry date of the card — a requirement that has to be fed into the computer before obtaining access to restricted sites.
In addition, porn sites on the internet also ask for the user's e-mail address.
Detectives are to take charge of the invoices sent by the porn site operators. Ceybank, whose card was used by the Minister, maintains that the invoices are cleared by the Merchant Bank in Singapore. In view of bureaucratic procedures, this is said to take time. Ceybank, has, however, agreed to waive the $ 2,000 dollar charge.
The billion rupee question is whether Mr. Samaraweera would now want the matter pursued to the ultimate for it would be a battle between the Minister and the men at SLT who are out to take revenge in what has come to be a cyber war of different sorts.
Major traffic diversions and body checks on all
By Chamintha Thilakarathna.
One of the tightest ever security operations has gone into effect in the city with three days to go for the 10th SAARC summit.
More than 6000 policemen and security forces personnel have been deployed and scores of additional security force check points set up in the city.
Traffic movements in the city will be severely restricted until Friday in view of the rehearsal today and other programmes of the summit.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Gohar Ayub Khan arrived yesterday while the Indian Minister of State for External Affairs, Vasundhara Raje is due in Colombo followed by other foreign ministers within the next two days. The Heads of State or government are due to arrive on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, traffic police announced three-wheelers, hand carts, bicycles, lorries, containers and trucks would not be allowed on main roads selected for VIP motorcades from Tuesday till Friday.
Residents have been told to apply for their residence passes before tomorrow while public and private offices in areas which have been declared 'high security zones' for the summit are also advised to get special vehicle and passenger passes in advance.
Police said traffic on the Galle Road from the Galle Face to Bentota would be regularly diverted to clear the way for VIP motorcades. The popular southern resort of Bentota is the venue where the SAARC leaders will have informal discussions in a holiday atmosphere.
"On a staggered basis, we will have to interrupt traffic and close the roads for a few hours. We have come up with alternative roads for motorists to avoid any major jam," a Police spokesman said.
He said that for the arrival of South Asian leaders and ministers, roads from Katunayake to Colombo would be closed.
He said motorists and pedestrians would all be subjected to strict security checks during the summit week and the police hoped the public would co-operate with this measure to prevent any untoward incident.
At the Taj Samudra, the official hotel for the summit, all tourists and other visitors have been kept out to accommodate the visiting leaders and their delegations.
The hotel is ringed by security officers from all three armed services and the Special Task Force of the Police.
At the nearby Intercontinental hotel, a summit media centre has been set up. But the hotel manager when contacted by The Sunday Times to find out specific arrangements said he had been told to say nothing. At the BMICH, where the summit will be held, all offices functioning there were closed from last Tuesday and any one entering is bodychecked.
A senior officer in charge of security in Colombo said the regular house to house checks would also be conducted in and around high security zones. He advised householders and lodgers to take every precaution in accommodating visitors and ensure they had proper identification papers or residence permits.
Any one going to the airport on Tuesday is advised to do so before noon as the area and the roads will be closed for the arrival of South Asian leaders after that.
A Motorcade Rehearsal for the SAARC Summit will be held today from Katunayake to Colombo starting at 10 a.m.
The route will be Canada Friendship Road - Negombo/Colombo Road - Japan/Sri Lanka Friendship Bridge - Grandpass Roundabout - Sirimavo Bandaranaike Mawatha upto Ingurukade Junction.
Normal traffic flow will be allowed on land-side carriageway for both ways during the rehearsal, a press release from the Colombo Traffic Police said.
Meanwhile other traffic diversions will be as follows:
Today- Galle Face to Kollupitiya, Dharmapala Mawatha, Green Path, Marcus Fernando roundabout, Glass House, Albert Crescent to St. Bridget's, Independence Avenue, Maitland Place to Bauddhaloka Mawatha will be closed from 9 a.m.
Tomorrow midnight to July 31 midnight: Galle Face centre road to Kollupitiya Ceramic junction closed.
Alternatives- Kollupitiya junction to Dharmapala Mawatha, Flower Road junction, through Sir James Peiris Mawatha.
Wednesday - Trucks and other heavy vehicles will have to turn off at William Grinding Mills junction, Dehiwela and go through Nugegoda, Welikada, Kolonnawa as Galle Road will not be available for heavy vehicles.
Heavy vehicles coming into Colombo from the northern suburbs, will have to take the route through Orugodawatta, Wellampitiya, Kolonnawa, Welikada, Nugegoda and the Galle Road.
For other vehicles such as cars, vans and buses alternative route of Havelock Road, Park Road, Elvitigala Mawatha, Borella could be used.
July 28-31 and Aug.1-Alternative route will be Negombo from Telwatta junction, Kanawana junction, through Ja-ela, Mahabage, Kandana and Gampaha.
The Police Department's newly set up counter terrorism outfit, Terrorist Investigation Division (TID), is probing an alleged plot to assassinate President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga.
An LTTE suicide bomber had planned to carry out an explosion, like in the case of the assassinations of Rajiv Gandhi or President Ranasinghe Premadasa.
TID detectives have uncovered evidence that the plot was to have been executed on July 22 when they expected President Kumaratunga to take part in a Hindu cultural programme. Although they were unaware of the plot at that time, security authorities had advised the President not to attend. She had instead delegated Cultural Affairs Minister Lakshman Jayakody to take part. The plot came to light following disclosures made by an LTTE suicide cadre, Ganesh Thanamani. This has led to the arrests of eight others including three journalists.
By Our India Corres-pondent
Given their widely divergent approaches and concerns, India and Pakistan are unlikely to break the ice and make substantial progress in resolving their disputes, when the two prime ministers, Atal Behari Vajpayee and Nawaz Sharif, meet on the sidelines of the SAARC summit on Wednesday.
What is most likely to happen is a joint pledge to continue the dialogue, even as they agree to disagree.
This is the least and the most they can do under the circumstances, given their respective national interests and the tremendous pressure mounted on both by the United States. The US has its own concerns, such as the unbridled expansion of the elite nuclear club and the effect of this on its own status as the world's numero uno, the possibility of a nuclear arms race in the sub-continent, proliferation of nuclear weapons among rogue states, and nuclear war itself.
Pakistan and India have different agendas. India wants to focus attention on the issue of the inequities in the global nuclear regime, the aberrations in the CTBT and the urgent need to marry nuclear non-proliferation with global disarmament. It would like Pakistan to join its fight for a more egalitarian world order.
But Pakistan wants to use the current situation only to secure Kashmir. It wants to link Pakistan's signing the CTBT with India's agreeing to solve the Kashmir dispute to its (Pakistan's) satisfaction. The argument is that if India hands over Kashmir to Pakistan, there would be no tension in the subcontinent and neither India nor Pakistan would need to go for nuclear weaponry. Both can sign the CTBT.
But the last thing that India would do is to hand over Kashmir to Pakistan on a silver platter. India and Pakistan have fought two bloody wars in 1948 and 1965, specifically on Kashmir. For both it is an ideological (and legal) issue of fundamental importance.
Pakistan's claim to Kashmir rests on the premise that in 1947 India was partitioned on the basis of religion and therefore Muslim majority Kashmir should have gone to Pakistan. But the rest of India christened Bharat, did not accept the 'two nation' theory. A secular, multi-religious, multi-ethnic state, Bharat would not countenance separation of an area or people simply on grounds of religion or ethnicity.
An acceptance of a division on the basis of a 'two nation theory', would cut at the very root of the concept of India, just as a rejection of the concept is tantamount to rejecting the very concept of a mono-religious, theoretic Pakistan. So there you are, there is no meeting ground between the two.
The US not only wants India to talk to Pakistan about Kashmir, but President Clinton has even suggested that Kashmir, being of international concern, should be the business of countries like China too. In the light of Sino-Pak friendship and co-operation, this is of immense significance to Pakistan. No wonder then the Nawaz Sharif regime in Islamabad is keen on pursuing the Kashmir issue relentlessly and striking when the iron is hot.
Pakistan has taken great pains to make SAARC consider the Kashmir issue as the core South Asian problem, see the nuclearisation of the sub-continent as an offshoot of this, and agree to discuss these at the formal level in order to arrive at a collective SAARC perspective.
But this has clearly not found any takers among the rest of the six members. Sri Lanka, as the host, has made it clear that there could be no over stepping of the charter, which forbids the inclusion of bilateral contentious issues in the formal agenda. The Sri Lankan Foreign Minister, Mr. Lakshman Kadirgamar, has also said that nobody had asked for an amendment of the charter to enable the taking up of such issues. Apparently SAARC continues to see the nuclear issue as a contentious Indo-Pak issue.
The state of emergency will be extended islandwide from August 28 enabling the postponement of provincial elections, Minister and PA General Secretary D. M. Jayaratna said.
Initially emergency would be extended from August 28 till September 28 and thereafter extended on a monthly basis until November, he told The Sunday Times.
Deputy Defence Minister Anurudhda Ratwatte has assured the government he will be able to bring the war to a decisive close before the end of the year, and "till then we have decided to declare emergency islandwide," Mr. Jayaratna said.
Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake had earlier announced that elections in five provinces — Uva, Sabaragamuwa, Central, North Central and Western — would be held on August 28. However with the extension of emergency regulations islandwide, elections in these provinces could be postponed. At present the state of emergency exists only in certain areas, including the north and east.
Minister Jayaratna explaining reasons for leaving out names of senior members from the nomination lists for PC elections said: "We have come to understand that the war is more important than the vote. We are not definite as to when elections will be held. This is why some ministers have been left out of the nominations list"
After much convincing by the Deputy Defence Minister on the importance of the war at this stage and the consequences of its interruption, the government has come to a joint decision to postpone election till the security situation improves, he said.
DIG Lucky Kodituwakku is expected to be the new Inspector General of Police.
He is to succeed W.B. Rajaguru, who will retire on August 31.
At last week's post cabinet media briefing, Minister Mangala Samaraweera was asked why the term of the IGP was extended though he had been found guilty of violating human rights.
The Minister said, "the extension is valid only till August 31. We will let you know what action will be taken against persons found guilty of violating human rights."
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