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24th September 2000
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Campaign amidst booming guns. EPDP leader Douglas 
Devananda addressing an election meeting at the 
Sridhar Theatre in Jaffna. 

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Gun shots mar Kandy campaign

Minister's son in alleged shooting incident; angry UNPers protest outside police station

By Shane Seneviratne in Kandy
Tension was running high in Kandy yesterday after a cabinet minister's son was allegedly involved in a shooting incident followed by police firing outside the DIG's office to disperse angry UNPers. 

The incidents sparked off after Deputy Defence Minister Anuruddha Ratwatte's son was allegedly involved in the shooting at a vehicle carrying UNPers. One person was injured and the vehicle was damaged in the incident.

The shooting incident sparked off strong protests from UNPers and a crowd of more than 500 persons gathered outside the DIG's office in Kandy, protesting against the incident.

UNP candidate Keheliya Rambukwella said he went to the Police station to lodge a compliant, but he was kept waiting for more than three hours.

In the meantime, the crowd turned unruly and pulled Kandy's Chief Inspector Saliya Silva by his uniform, prompting police to open fire into the air and disperse the crowd. Two persons were arrested, but one of them was later released.

In the pandemonium, several vehicles were damaged as the agitated UNP supporters ran in panic.

"We have made a complaint that our supporter has been shot, but the police have not taken action on the matter. Instead they have arrested a man for using a loud speaker without a permit," he said. 

PA General Secretary D. M. Jayaratna condemned the shooting incident when he saw the demonstration outside the police station.

Yesterday's incidents follow the burning of Mr. Rambukwella's vehicle in Madawala on Thursday night.

They were among a series of election-related violent incidents being reported from various parts of the country.

The two election monitoring groups, the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence and the People's Action Front for Free and Fair Eelctions, have recorded more than hundred incidents. 

The PAFFREL has recorded 109 incidents, including four killings, by Friday. The complaints have been lodged by the PA, the UNP and the JVP. 

The CMEV has reported 584 incidents by Friday. Of them, 316 complaints are against the PA, 127 against the UNP and six against the JVP.

According to the CMEV, the Wayamba Province has recorded 116 incidents, the Western Province 96 incidents, the Central Province 73, the North Central 70, Southern Province 62, Uva 64, Sabaragamuwa 56, Northern Province 13 and Eastern Province 34.

The CMEV said that of these complaints, 337 are on major incidents.

Veerappan's men with the LTTE

India's most dreaded bandit Koose Muniswamy Veerappan is playing the Tamil nationalist card and one of the conditions he set for the release of film star Raj Kumar is the freeing of Tamil nationalists, some of whom had LTTE connections, from Tamil Nadu prisons. The Kerala-based The Week in its latest issue says Veerappan has donned the garb of a Tamil nationalist, hoping to be the founding father of a 'Vishala Tamil Nadu',(The Greater Tamil Nadu) and his demands are purely political. 

The article claims that members of extremists groups such as the Tamil Nadu Liberation Army, Tamil Nation Retrieval Troops and Tamil National Liberation Force, were seen with him. See story on page 16

Opinion poll

They know little

Some 11 percent of people interviewed in an opinion poll have said they had not heard about the draft constitution through which the government aimed to find a solution to the ethnic crisis.

The poll conducted by Org. Marg Smart, a leading market and economic research firm in Sri Lanka, also says that of the 89 p.c. who were aware of the constitution, 33 p. c. did not know its contents and another 60 p. c. had a very limited knowledge about the proposed changes.

The poll made available to The Sunday Times was conducted from August 30 to September 7 among an islandwide sample of 1,299 respondents, covering 17 districts outside the north and east, to represent the entire voting population of the country. 

Lankan polympics in Sydney

By Annesley Ferreira in Sydney
The Olympics notwithstanding, the election campaign is even being fought in Sydney, Australia. 

Last week, the Sri Lankan community in Australia hosted a dinner for the Olympic contingent. The Olympic participants and a few officials went by bus while the fortunate officials were driven in cars for the dinner. 

During the return journey, fighting broke out in the bus with two rival groups hurling blows at each other. The choice language used prompted an official to remark " I was not sure for a moment whether I was in Siripina Lane or Sydney." Some officials intervened to bring about a "temporary ceasefire" in the bus. 

In another development, officials of the Sri Lanka Olympic team locked horns with sprinter Susanthika Jayasinghe over her decision to wear a yellow band a symbolic gesture to indicate her support to ensure free and fair elections in Sri Lanka. 

Officials argued they were only trying to keep the Sri Lankan participants away from political issues. But they blushed when they received a sharp retort from Ms. Jayasinghe.

She told them she was free to wear any colour of band to tie her hair in as much as she was free to wear a pantie in a colour of her choice. She asked officials how they would know which colour the latter was. 

Ms. Jayasinghe tied her hair with a yellow ribbon when she ran in the semi final yesterday in the 100 metres event.

Major crash averted at BIA

By M.Ismeth and Tania Fernando
The pilot of a SriLankan Airlines airbus A330 headed for a near collision with two Sri Lanka Air Force Kfir helicopter jets and an AN 32 transport plane at the Bandaranaike International Airport recently.

This was after he landed the aircraft, allegedly ignoring warnings from Air Traffic Controllers to "go around", or remain airborne, until the two jets and the AN 32 cleared the runway.

The pilot in question, a Flight Operations Manager of SriLankan Airlines, had been taken off flying duties following a Civil Aviation Department preliminary inquiry. However, aviation sources alleged yesterday he had been allowed to fly pending the completion of inquiries due to political pressure. 

But a SriLankan Airlines official denied there was political pressure and said inquiries were yet to be completed. An Air Traffic Controller, also interdicted at the same time as the pilot, however, is not reporting to work. 

The SriLankan Airlines airbus landing defying Air Traffic Controller's instructions had taken place on August 15.

The modern state-of-the art Airbus 330 had been on a training flight with the Flight Operations Manager and two Filipino pilots. The Flight Operations Manager who was at the controls had sought Air Traffic Control (ATC) for clearance to land. He had then been told by an ATC to "go around" or continue to maintain his flight level.

This was because two Israeli built Kfir jets, which were on a mission to the North, had landed and were rolling down the runway. When this was going on, Air Traffic Controllers had asked the two Kfirs to hold to allow a Russian-built AN 32 to cross the runway.

The SriLankan Airlines pilot had reportedly acceded to the Air Traffic Controller's request to "go around" by declaring "roger" (or saying 'yes') but had brought the aircraft down. Tape recordings at the control tower had confirmed this.

"Luckily the Kfirs and the AN 32 had cleared the runway. Otherwise there would have been an unimaginable disaster," an airport source told The Sunday Times.

The move led to a prompt inquiry by the Civil Aviation Department which wrote to SriLankan Airlines asking that the pilot be barred from flying and his licence be suspended.

SriLankan officials remained tight-lipped about the incident. Spokesperson Manuela Motha said she had no comment to offer.

Civil Aviation Director Lal Liyanarachchi also declined to comment saying an inquiry was underway.

Hakeem to take oaths amidst protests

By Nilika de Silva and Faraza Farook
Sri Lanka Muslim Congress co-leader Rauf Hakeem will take oaths as Minister of Ports and Rehabilitation tomorrow amidst opposition from some eastern province members.

Mr. Hakeem was scheduled to take oaths on Friday, but it was postponed after questions relating to constitutionality of the appointment were raised by legal experts. 

Mr. Hakeem told The Sunday Times the doubts had been cleared, following a meeting of government legal experts at Temple Trees.

Mr. Hakeem left for Mecca on Friday night on a pilgrimage and is due to return tomorrow to take oaths as Minister of Ports and Rehabilitation, a post Mr. Ashraff held at the time of his death.


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