21st January 2001

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Crimes soar as law and order crumbles

By Chandani Kirinde

The country's crime wave soared in the past week with a string of gruesome killings putting the murders committed since the beginning of the year at over 30, according to Police sources.

These came in the wake of a decision by the Police Department to wrap up the Colombo Detective Bureau (CDB). Police officers attached to the CDB were posted to other police stations and the Bureau's belongings were moved out last week.

The building is to be used to house a Central Intelligence Bureau (CIB).

However there was little improvement in the law and order situation in the country as a gang war between two rival factions spilled over to the streets of Colombo when four men were killed in a peak hour gang war on Thursday evening.

Borella OIC crimes IP Munasinghe said two of the seven men who had carried out the attack had been identified by two men of the rival gang who had managed to escape.

He said seven men had come in a van during peak hours and started firing at a group of people down Magazine Road with T 56 pistols causing pandemonium among panic stricken office workers in Borella.

The killer gang was led by a person called 'Dilnat'.

Police believe the followers of "Gemba Samantha" had committed the crime in retaliation for the killing of their leader. Gemba Samantha was shot dead by a rival gang about three months ago.

In another incident in Galnewa in Anuradhapura , a 12-year-old boy was killed when a hand bomb was thrown into his room while he was sleeping on Wednesday. His father was also seriously injured and is in hospital.

Police have not yet identified who carried out the attack or what the motive was. In Kekirawa the same day, a woman shop owner was shot dead by an unidentified gunman.

Deadly love

Two gruesome killings, ironically of a similar nature in two different parts of the country sent shock waves last week .

In the first incident in Polpitigama in the Kurunegala district, a 30- year-old pregnant wife of the Pradeshiya Sabha chairman of the area was shot dead on Monday night.

An army deserter was arrested in this connection and in a shocking turn of events, investigations have revealed that he had been given the contract to kill the woman by her own husband who was aided and abetted by his mistress. Police said the shot gun that had been used to kill the seven-month pregnant woman was one that the Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman Senarath Padmasiri had obtained from the Defence Ministry for his personal security and the army deserter was his personal security guard.

The chairman's mistress is alleged to have promised Rs. 50,000 for the killing.

The army deserter , the Pradeshiya Sabha chairman and his mistress are now in custody.

In a similar incident in the village of Ambagasdowa in Uva-Paranagama, a man was found hacked to death on Monday.

Police said they had received an anonymous call regarding the killing. Two hours after the call, the wife of the victim had come to the Police station to record a statement stating her husband had been found dead in a lonely spot in the village.

Police investigations soon revealed that the man had been killed on a contract given by his wife-the mother of four girls and her paramour who apparently was the victim's best friend. In this case too, the man who carried out the killing had been promised Rs. 50,000 .

The victim has been identified as 38-year old Ramyadasa, a farmer.

Uva Paranagama Police chief Mahesh Perera said they were able to make a quick breakthrough in the case as the victim's mother and brother had last seen him alive on the day of the killing in the company of his alleged killer. Police first arrested the man who had carried out the killing and after his confession took into custody Ramyadasa's wife and her lover. They have been remanded by the Welimada Magistrate. Police have also recovered the axe that was used to deal the deadly blows on the man's head.

Sad state of Sathutu Uyana

By Chris Kamalendran

One of Colombo's prime lands used for recreation is to be leased out to a Korean company by the Municipal Council for a sports complex.

A 225 perch block is being demarcated from the 'Sathutu Uyana' at the Viharamaha Devi park in Colombo for the lease, a CMC official said.

This move comes as the Municipal council appears to have neglected the Sathutu Uyana - the main place of recreation in Colombo, although it brings in a steady revenue .

Colombo's Mayor Omar Kamil confirmed that a series of proposals had been received to develop the park, but declined to confirm that they had decided on one particular company.

Mr. Kamil said more facilities would be provided at the park under this plan.

The Sunday Times learns that a section of the park would be leased for Rs. 500,000 monthly and the investor hoped to pump in Rs. 200 million to put up the sports complex which would include indoor -games, a gymnasium and a restaurant. It is learned that a fee too would be levied to enter the park.

Although the park is patronized by thousands of visitors from all parts of country most of the facilities are in a state of neglect despite a high-powered committee, comprising Municipal engineers and Municipal council members being appointed to improve the park.

A three-dimension mini-cinema which was one of the main attractions of the park has been closed for the past one and a half years while the baby-train has been derailed.

The Sunday Times learns that although about Rs. 49,000 had been spent to repair one of the compartments the train did not chug along for more than one hour before it broke down once again. For the past one and a half months it has been out of order.

The park began in 1986 under the instructions of former President Ranasinghe Premadasa after he had noticed a similar park in London. He invited the entertainer Bob Williams to open up the park and operate it for a three year period. Subsequently the CMC took over.

The Sunday Times learns that several employees who are supposed to be working in the park do not turn up for work, but collect their salary at the end of the month.

Words have flowed under the bridge but no action

By Tania Fernando

Agitated parents and past pupils of Muslim Ladies College in Bambalapitiya are protesting against the continuation of the Duplication Road widening project which they say will cost them their playground of 55 perches.

After the project was started, an overhead bridge was built for the students to go from one building to the other. But parents say regular use of the overhead bridge could cause safety problems for the children and disrupt studies because of the heavy traffic flow.

Parents said the school which has 3,000 students had repeatedly reminded the authorities of the promise to provide an alternative playground but had not got it so far. They said they would come out in full protest if the need was not met.

Highways Minister A H M Fowzie in response said a piece of land had been acquired to provide an alternative playground but a court case was delaying it. He was hopeful the matter could be settled soon.

Tales from here and there and everywhere

S. B. moving into new house

Minister S. B. Dissanayake who is presently occupying his official residence is to move into a new house in keeping with his new status. This time he will be moving into the house which was occupied by Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake at Stanmore Crescent before the latter moved into Temple Trees.

Minister Dissanayake is, however not happy with the house as it is and thus he has ordered a renovation. The Sunday Times learns that each of the five bedrooms will be air-conditioned.

while the PM was occupying the house two rooms were air-conditioned. The air conditioning in the main room needed repairs but as the estimate for it was said to be over Rs. 100,000 it was not done.

Birds of a feather

Tempers may have been frayed last week with glasses and microphones taking wing but the boys from the Diyawanna talk shop were manly enough that same evening. The occasion was a superb party thrown by the Korean Ambassador for the Sri Lanka-Korean Parliamentary Association.

With Korean barbecues and Scottish liquid in plenty, gone was the afternoon's rancour.

Speaker Bandaranaike in a sporty blazer was supported by his Advisor, the ever-green former Secretary General of Parliament Nihal Seneviratne, eagerly sought by old parliamentary friends. Also contributing in no small measure was the jolly MP of towering appearance-'little John' (Sir John to many)

The evening was not without its funny moments. There was a ministry photographer very much in good spirits who wanted to be in a frame with Mr. Speaker. Try as he would a helpful guest could not get the camera to work.

The political turncoat

The political turncoat from the deep South is a busy man today, zealously recruiting young Southerners to the armed forces in true Dutugemunu style, after being rewarded with a deputy ministership despite his verbal onslaughts on the powers that be, not so long ago.

But the damper on his high spirits came soon enough. His untiring efforts to make the son of 'somebody' the Basnayake Nilame of the Kataragama Devale fell flat, as the candidate himself withdrew from the race. And this inspired some unfair comparisons from his PA colleagues who saw similarities in the way his plans fell flat- just the way he fell flat on his face as he reverently offered betel to a powerful lady recently.

Sri Lanka not for me

With the present deplorable conditions in the country, economically and politically, with murders, robberies and the spiralling cost of living, he would have fled the country if he was twenty years younger, confided a senior executive of a five star hotel.

At the rate things are happening, very soon tourists will bid good bye to our country.

Almsgiving for Mrs. B.

Sunethra B. summoned senior PA members and told them what curries were to be brought for the three months almsgiving of the late PM, Mrs B, last weekend. The curries were served for the monks, while the catering for the other guests was done by Mt. Lavinia Hotel.

How well are SL missions briefed?

Vincent Brossel of the Asia-Pacific Desk of Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF) apologises for a letter addressed to Mr. Mangala Samaraweera as the Minister of Posts, Telecommunications and Media, Sri Lanka on January 12, when the current Minister of Media is Mr. Anura Priyadharshana Yapa.

The mix up in the portfolios has not been due to the mistake of the RSF but due to someone in the SL mission in Paris who had confirmed that Mr. Samaraweera was still the Media Minister and even giving a wrong fax number. Are SL missions yet to receive the new list of 46 Ministers?

Throwing in the towel?

Is a high ranking official in Parliament likely to throw in his towel in the year 2002. Not after a boxing bout but as a result of 'advising' becoming duplicated.

But the guy is determined to enjoy every joyride given on the house, while government cheques are becoming rubber (not excluding that of the CEB) and with talk of tightening belts.

PM opts for Chinese medication

Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake has suddenly become aware that he has a bulging belly. No, the PM is not planning to work out at a gym, neither is he planning to cut down on sumptuous food. Instead he is going the indigenous way to lose the extra pounds.

The PM receives Chinese herbal treatment through massage by a Chinese doctor at least twice a week at his residence.

The Chinese clinic is well known for the herbal massage rubbed the Chinese way.

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