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16th May 1999
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Artificial limbs were donated to seven 
former LTTE cadres by the Army and 
the Friend-in-Need Society, in Colombo, 
last week. Here an Army private fits an 
artificial limb on a legless one-time adversary.

Pix. by Gemunu Wellage
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Stop cricket on Vesak day 

Buddhist Advisory Board appeals to President

With the largest ever TV and Radio audience in Sri Lanka keenly following the World Cup matches, a dispute is brewing over what will happen on May 29 and 30 Vesak Poya days. 

imageThe Buddhist Advisory Board of the Media Ministry has appealed to President Chandrika Kumaratunga to request all private and state media to keep out World Cup on the Vesak days.

England are scheduled to play India on May 29 while Sri Lanka meet Kenya on May 30. 

The advisory board at a recent meeting unanimously decided to make this request as it felt the sanctity of the Vesak Poya might not be maintained if the attention was on cricket. 

The Ven. Madegoda Sumantissa Thera, a member of the advisory board, told The Sunday Times he feared people would not observe Vesak properly if prominence was given to cricket on those days. 

He said letters had been sent to private and state media groups, requesting them to abide by the appeal.

But in the first reaction, Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation Chairman Janadasa Peries said he believed the state radio would not come under this criteria as it had different channels for religion, news, education and sports.

The SLBC sports service is giving ball-by-ball commentaries on the World Cup matches with sponsorships apparently running into millions.

Swarnavahini, which is reported to have paid Rs. 200 million for sole rights in giving live coverage of World Cup matches, says it has not yet received any such appeal. Swarnavahini Managing Director Jeewaka Edirisinghe told The Sunday Times they had made a huge investment for the World Cup live coverage and they would ask the authorities to reconsider any request for the cancellation of coverage on Wednesday. 

The local TV audience for Friday's inaugural match between Sri Lanka and England was believed to be one of the largest ever since the 1996 World Cup finals.

Big build up but the World Cup bubble bursts

By Shelani de Silva
Despite Sri Lanka's pathetic defeat in the opening World Cup match against England on Friday, cricket has become the focal point in almost everything these days.

Be it a food product, jewellery, soft drink, a bank account, clothes, vehicles you name it, the item is often connected to the World Cup. When the long-awaited May 14 drew near, the enthusiasm grew and grew with all manner of posters and banners coming up all over.

While the Indians equate cricket with religion and Sachin Tendulakar with a god, in Sri Lanka, though Arjuna is not compared to a god, religion did play a prominent part in the run up to the matches. While several devotees visited temples, kovils and churches to invoke blessings on the team, some Muslim mosques on Friday offered prayers for Sri lanka's success. 

On Friday evening, roads in and around Colombo were deserted, shops closed by late afternoon and public transport came to a halt. 

The city streets were deserted like on a curfew day while Sri Lanka batted. But after our team collapsed many people probably knocked off their TVs or radios and walked off to normal work or business.

It was interesting to see the plethora of food items that were advertised centering on the World Cup. These items were identified with the strength and vigour that goes to become champions. 

The number of T shirts put out by various organisations to mark the World Cup, sold like kevum at Avurudu time. The cricketers too were presented with clothes and other accessories to boost brand names.

Many jewellers, too took the World Cup as an opportunity to put out new designs. Pendants in the shape of cricket gear were carved in the most delicate and intricate manner. 

Sri Lanka's Central Bank not to be outdone by the cricket fever issued a new coin to mark the current World Cup and Sri Lanka's spectacular triumph in the 1996 World Cup. 

Even the web sites, apart from giving the scores and other details of the tournament, had a new concept where the fans could convey their best wishes to the cricketers on a personal basis. 

When life comes to a standstill during the World Cup, the disruption is not confined to the normal day-to-day activity but also such once in a life time events as weddings, channelling doctors, organising seminars among others too numerous to mention. 

Friday, the day of the curtain raiser, was an auspicious day, but wedding times were altered to allow people to watch the match. 

Many companies had postponed important events such as seminars on account of the match. In some instances at the venues of such events giant TV screens were installed so that participants could watch the match while talking business.

Business magnate Patrick Amerasinghe told The Sunday Times that while factors such as floods elections and the down-turn in the economies of countries in South East Asia and East Asia were having an undesirable impact on our economy cricket fever also is bound to further the negative impact.

However he said it would be prudent to take advantage of the huge movie star appeal of the cricketers to lend a hand in tourist promotion and the promotion of our traditional products thereby giving the economy a much needed boost. 

Issue over tissue

An alleged attempt to smuggle electronic goods worth millions of rupees under the guise of facial tissues has sparked allegations and a controversy in the customs.

Customs officers produced a businessman before the Harbour Magistrate and asked that he be remanded and their custody for further investigations.

They said he was supposed to have imported 260 huge boxes containing tissues but 90 of them carried electronic goods packed between the tissues.

A lawyer appearing for the businessman, however, charged that some customs officers were involved in this racket with bribes also being given and they were threatening the suspect. 

The lawyer asked that for these reasons, bail be allowed for the businessman and Magistrate Shiromi Perera agreed to give him high security bail. 

A Customs official denied the bribery charges, saying interested parties were spreading rumours to cover up their misdeeds. 

Uni. bill deferred but case will go on

The Supreme Court case challening the Universities Amendment bill is to be continued though the bill has been deferred.

Though the President announced subsequently that the bill would not be presented in parliament until all related and interested parties made representations, the petitions already filed challenging the constitutionality of the Bill are up for determination now before the Supreme court.

The petitioners in this case the University English Instructors Association and Nimal Fernando, a Grade One Educational Assistant of the Open University submitted that Clause 11 of the proposed amendment which seeks to re-word the definition of teacher in a higher educational institution is arbitrary, and discriminatory of the staff categories to which they belong.

From all reasonable yardsticks that can be used to arrive at the definition of teacher, there is substantial reason to believe that the petitioners function as teachers within the University system. The petitioners submitted that they teach English to students, at various levels. This includes entry level English , and teaching of English to MA students and the teaching of business communications, which is a component of a degree level course.

In the Open University, education assistants teach subjects such as law, management studies, and other subjects. In the faculty of humanities, educational assistants are engaged in the preparation of course materials for all courses conducted in the Open University of Sri Lanka. For all intents and purposes, these activities, the petitioners stated, constitute "teaching;'' by any reasonable definition.

Counsel submitted that the teaching done by the teachers that constitute the petitioners, can in no reasonable way, be deemed to be qualitatively different from the teaching done by those defined as teachers in the proposed clause in the amendment.

The clause by its re-definition is therefore inconsistent with article 12(1) of the constitution, as it is arbitrary and unreasonable and discriminatory, they say.

The clause, by flagrant omission, unreasonably discriminates against a certain category of persons who have been excluded from the purview and the ambit of change that is sought to be made in the principal enactment by the clause, they said.

The clause is inconsistent with the constitution, inasmuch as it seeks to unreasonably restrict the right and freedom of certain categories of persons, to be employed in a profession that they seek to be employed in. The Bench comprised of Justices N.M. Dheeraratne, A.S. Wijetunge and Shirani Bandaranaike.

Chukka story raises many queries

Lakbima Journalist Sri Lal Priyantha was yesterday due to be produced before Matugama Magistrate Sunanda Herath on allegations that as area leader of the JVP in Welipenna he had committed five murders under a pseudonym "Chukka".

This came as the Free Media Movement denied that the journalist was one of its active members while another media freedom group questioned the role of the CID and the Information Department in the whole episode.

According to police, the journalist's real name is Kulappu Thanthirige Priyanka Jayalal and several other allegations have been made against him in a five page confidential document which was faxed to all media groups through the Government Information Department on Friday.

Marked 'Secret' and labelled 'Annex A' the document was titled 'Murders committed by Priyanka Jayalal JVP Leader presently disguised himself as Sri Lal Priyantha, journalist of the 'Lakbima' Sinhala weekly'. It appeared to be a part of a CID report, but it is not clear to whom it has been submitted.

The report made no reference to the progress of investigations into the incident where the journalist was allegedly abducted from his home and dumped near a cemetery.

The document said that on the direction of the Inspector General of Police, the CID assisted Mirihana Police to conduct investigations into the abduction of the Lakbima journalist.

"Wide publicity was given in both print and electronic media concerning this case alleging that senior officers of the armed services are responsible for the abduction of this journalist. Allegations were also made that he was abducted to prevent his investigative journalism in exposing corruption and malpractices committed by senior officers in the three services and the police.

"The Free Media Movement, of which Sri Lal Priyantha is an active member, took an active role in agitating against the Government for the failure to take immediate action to apprehend the offenders. They staged a protest campaign on March 17 opposite Fort Railway Station, demanding immediate action by the Government," the document said.

It said evidence was available that he allegedly committed the murders of Sugathadasa Kovis, a principal and U.A.B. Ariyachandera, an agricultural officer in Yagirala, and was involved in three other murders. 

"Witnesses were under the impression that the suspect Jayalal alias Chukka had been killed by the Security Forces or the Police in suppressing JVP subversion. The Grama Sevaka of the area confirmed that the suspect Priyanka Jayalal disappeared from the village during 1989 and never returned to the area until he appeared on TV on March 16, 1999.

"Investigations further revealed that this suspect (Jayalal) is involved in another three murders committed during 1989 in Welipenna Police area. His father K. D. Nandasena who was also a hardcore JVPer disappeared from the village along with the suspect having allegedly committed several murders in the area.

"Discreet inquires revealed that Sri Lal Priyantha has embarked on a mission in propagating the ideology of the JVP to create dissension amongst the service personnel and the police. He has published several articles exposing alleged malpractices, corruption and harassment by senior officers arousing ill-feelings or hostility towards senior officers. 

"He has succeeded in encouraging the lower ranks of the three services and the police to provide him with material against senior officers. He has cultivated conduits to the three Services and the Police in eliciting classified information such as file numbers, page references etc., to expose allege corrupt practices by senior offices. This has affected the morale of the service personnel and the Police specially at a time when the Government is fighting a war in the North," the document said.

"Sri Lal Priyantha has been working for 'Yukthiya' 'Ravaya' Sinhala tabloids and 'Lankadeepa' from 1990 to 1989. He has followed a course in journalism at the National Youth Council, Maharagama during 1989 with his real name Priyanka Jayalal. Documentary evidence is available to confirm this," it said.

The Department of Information also released another annexure which contained details of stories written by him.

Meanwhile responding to the shocking development, Free Media Movement (FMM) spokesman Waruna Karunatilaka said Sri Lal Priyantha was not a member of the FMM.

Another media freedom group, Prajathanthra, has also issued a statement asking why the Information Department which had remained silent on the abduction of the journalist was now rushing to issue a document, accusing Sri Lal Priyantha of murder and other crimes. It also demanded that the CID report on the abduction of the journalist in March be issued immediately.

Prajathanthra Convenor Lucien Rajakarunanayake rapped the authorities for non-action on the March abduction despite continuous agitation and protests both here and abroad urging that the perpetrators be brought to book. It also urges the conduct and completion of an urgent and impartial inquiry.

"There is no word whatsoever as to who carried out this alleged abduction, the circumstances under which it was carried out or even who is suspect of this alleged abduction. We reiterate the demand that the CID makes a public statement about the abduction without any further delay," Mr. Rajakarunanayake said.

"The material released by the CID about Sri Lal Priyantha also raises the questions as to why no action was taken to issue corrections with regard to allegedly derogatory reports published about senior services and police personnel. Or else, why no legal action was initiated under the normal law with regard to these articles if they are false and specially as it is said they have led to a lowering of the morale of the services personnel and the police?

"It would appear from the CID reports released that any or all of the officers of the services and the police who are said to have been affected by these allegedly derogatory articles, have sufficient motive to carry out the alleged abduction of Sri Lal Priyantha."

The Prajathanthra said that it did not wish to condone the alleged illegal and criminal activities, which Sri Lal Priyantha has been accused of, and that it hoped that proper legal action would be taken about these charges. However, the failure of the CID to reveal the facts regarding the alleged abduction of Mr. Priyantha could lead to questions about the transparency of this investigation, the group said.

"We trust the CID would be transparent about the inquiry into the alleged abduction of Sri Lal Priyantha, as it was about the threats and attack on Iqbal Athas, where some of the alleged attackers are now facing trial in courts. This attack and earlier threats to Mr. Athas also followed certain revelations he published about senior service personnel."

Mr. Rajakarunanayake has raised the issue of the IGP failing to respond to the question as to what disciplinary action have been taken with regard to the personnel of the Mirihana police who delayed for three hours to take action on the alleged abduction.

Central PC still waiting for Thonda's man

By J.A.L. Jayasinghe
Central Province Chief Minister Sarath Ekanayake of the People's Alliance and UNP opposition leader Keheliya Rambukwella have agreed to co-operate in carrying the important work of the council though some higher-ups in their parties may not favour such co-operation, council sources said.

This comes amid continuing uncertainty over the position of the CWC-led coalition which holds six seats and the balance of power in the council.The PA administration is still keeping open an important portfolio but the CWC coalition is still blowing hot and cold.

Earlier the coalition which contested under the flag of the National Union of Workers decided to support the PA in the Central Province administration but CWC leader S. Thondaman at the last minute held back support, demanding firm action against police officers responsible for incidents at the Nuwara Eliya May day rally. Meanwhile, PA member Bandula Yalegama who had resigned to enable Minister Nandimitra Ekanayake to take over as chief minister has been sworn in again due to a legal problem. But latest reports indicate that the problem has now been cleared and Nandimitra Ekanayake will resign from parliament and cabinet next month to take over as chief minister.

Trial at bar on Hokandara horror

By Ayesha R. Rafiq
The Hokandara horror which shocked the country is coming to court soon with the Attorney General submitting 24 charges and the Chief Justice expected to appoint three judges soon for a trial at bar.

The four suspects in this case are to be indicted on charges of murder, rape and robbery in the tragedy where they are alleged to have wiped out a whole family of six.

The brutal massacre on February 10 took place after the Lalanadasa family objected to the suspects brewing kasippu in their land.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, fear reigned in the area and few people came forward to give information to the police, apparently in fear of repercussions.

Thus modern methods of crime detection were adopted and DNA tests were done for the first time in Sri Lanka to identify the suspects from their blood stains, police said.

Legal sources said that trial at bar was intended to ensure a speedy disposal of this case which otherwise might languish in courts for several months or years wrapped in legal tape.

Jaffna lawyers to go low key

By S. S. Selvanayagam
Lawyers in the Jaffna peninsula are reportedly trying to re-activate the functioning of the courts despite the LTTE threat.

Attorneys based in Jaffna recently decided to appear in courts in cases that directly affect the public.

The Jaffna Lawyers' Association meeting was held in the court building on Thursday to study the prevailing legal ground situation in the peninsula. Taking note of the deteriorating law and order situation in the peninsula, almost all the lawyers emphasised on the importance of re-activating the functions of the courts. 

They adopted a resolution that lawyers should appear in courts in criminal cases as well as in litigations which directly affect the public, in a bid to contain the prevalent anti-social activities.

Despite the resolution to reactivate the functions of the courts, it is likely that it will be on a low key, according to reports from Jaffna. Following the resolution, the president and secretary of the lawyers association called on the Jaffna Additional Magistrate S.A.E. Ekanathan for a discussion.

Local bodies hit again

By Chris Kamalendran
Local bodies in the Jaffna peninsula have suffered another body blow with the killing of yet another member while a proposed security plan for them is still on paper. 

On Thursday night Valikamam North Pradeshiya Sabha member, M. Poobalasingham, 56 was gunned down at Urumpirai, Jaffna by an LTTE pistol gang member, while he was having tea at a hotel.

So far 17 local councillors have been killed in the north since the elections in January last year. The victims include two mayors, Sarojini Yogeswaran and Pon Sivapalan. 

Meanwhile a security plan which was being worked out for local members has not got off the ground.

According to the plan, the Tamil political parties which have armed cadres were due to provide a list of persons who would be given a further training by the security forces and deployed to provide security to the councillors.

However the parties had failed to provide a list of names and the plan had not been put into operation.

Reports from the north said that as a result most of the councils were not functioning properly due to the security threats to the members.

Two weeks ago , the LTTE had repeated its warnings to the members of the local bodies.

Athas case on July 16

The trial of two airforcemen charged with criminal tresspass and intimidation of The Sunday Times Consultant Editor and Defence Correspondent Iqbal Athas has been fixed for July 16.

The two officers Squadron Leaders H. M. R. Herath and S. P. S. Kannangara on Tuesday were enlarged on a cash bail of Rs. 5000 each by Colombo High Court Judge Andrew Somawansa. The incident occurred on Februay 12 last year when armed men had forcibly entered Mr. Athas' Nugegoda residence. The men had allegedly wielded weapons and intimitated the family, also injuring a member of the household. The officers were first arrested by the CID and remanded on the orders of the Gangodawila Magistrate.

UNP files poll cases challenging results 

The UNP has filed an election petition and a fundamental rights application challenging the results of April 6 provincial elections.

UNP candidate for the Uva province H.M. Jayaweera Bandara has petitioned the Court of Appeal Court, praying for a ruling that the Badulla district results be made void. The petition cites 25 instances of election malpractices in the district. Four UNP members also have filed a fundamental rights application in the Supreme Court, claiming their freedom to vote has been violated by election violence and rigging that took place in the Udadumbara electorate in the Kandy district. 

The petitioners UNP candidate J.A. Egodawele, Pradeshiya Sabha chairman N.B. Egodawele, branch president Anura Dissanayake and election agent W.A.M. Seneviratne Banda have called for an order directing the Commissioner of Elections to declare void the poll at the specified polling stations and to appoint a fresh date for polls in these polling stations.

The Commissioner of Elections, the Returning Officer, Attorney General, Secretaries of all contesting parties and five others have been named as respondents.

The application is to be taken up this Thursday.

Minister's vehicle shot at

By J.A.L. Jayasinghe and Shane Seneviratne
Central Province Minister Saliya Bandara Dissanayake's vehicle was fired upon by an unidentified gang on Friday night while he was returning from a function to felicitate him, police said.

The incident took place near Polpitiya on the Ginigathhena-Maskeliya road around 8 p.m.

The minister and a friend accompanying him escaped unhurt while the driver was injured and was later admitted to the Nawalapitiya Hospital.

Mr Dissanayake is the brother of Sports Minister S.B. Dissanayake.

Smokescreen over missing 'firewood graduate'

By J.A.L.Jayasinghe and S.Abeysiri.
A Matale graduate who sold firewood to support his family because he could not find a proper job has disappeared in mysterious circumstances.

Ranjith Liyanagedara, 30, of Vihara Road in Matale had left his home on the morning of April 20 for Ukuwela and since then there has been no trace of him. 

Family members say police have taken no action regarding the complaint. But the HQI of Matale and the DIG say every effort is being made to trace him.

Though Mr. Liyanagedara had obtained a degree five years ago he had not been able to find steady employment. His responsibilities to his family had forced him to even do menial work. 

His father R. P. Sirisena told 'The Sunday Times' his son was very religious from his young days. 

He received his education at the temple and with the help of Ven. Thismada Nandarama Thero he went to the university and obtained a degree after which he was idling at home for five years.

"He was a member of the unemployed graduates' union. He was selling firewood to earn an income.

His disappearance is a mystery and it has been intimated to the Matale police," the father said. He had joined a hunger campaign staged by the unemployed graduates in Kandy recently.

Mr. Liyanagedara's disappearance has been reported to the DIG, Central Range, Siri Herath. 

UNP playing hide and seek

By Shelani de Silva
UNP members who lost their seats by boycotting meetings of the controversially elected North Western Provincial Council are to be reappointed, but they will continue to boycott as a mark of protest, General Secretary Gamini Atukorale said. This reappointment is possible under the constitution and the UNP is using this procedure to heap scorn on what it sees as a fraudulently-elected council.

Mr. Atukorale told The Sunday Times the 19 UNP members would be reappointed but would continue to boycott and might lose their seats again after another three months. 

Meanwhile the NWP's Chief Secretary, S Diss-anayake told The Sunday Times that under the constitution, the party had the power to appoint and reappoint but the council could not take any legal action over this unprecedented happening. A PA member told The Sunday Times that by this boycott the UNP was depriving many areas of the benefits of development. He pointed out that each PC member was given Rs. 1 million annually for development work but the UNP members were not getting it because of their boycott.

Guardstones to be restored or not?

By Shane Seneviratne
Archaeological experts restoring the guardstones to the Dalada Maligawa are seeking public opinion whether they should patch up the missing portions or leave them partially restored.

The conservators have put up a book at the Maligawa to seek the opinion of tens of thousands of local and foreign visitors.

Conservators said that much of the two guard stones damaged in the LTTE bomb attack last year had been restored. Most people have said the guard- stones should not be kept in the same manner as it would remind the people of the terrorist attack.

An official of the Cultural Triangle said if they decided to keep the incomplete guardstones, a painting of the full guard stones on a canvass would be displayed inside the Maligawa.

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