Horrific crash leaves one dead

By Mohamad Buharruddeen

A school girl attending Gokarella MMV, died and seven others were injured when a lorry attempting to overtake a tipper on the Colombo - Anuradhapura highway at Ambanpola rammed into a bus and a three wheeler.

The deceased was identified as 12 year old Sithara Samarakone while among those injured were 4 persons from one family. The injured were despatched to the Kurunegala hospital. The bus returning from a tour of Jaffna was travelling to Weeraketiya.

When police arrested the driver of the lorry it was discovered he did not possess a valid driving licence.

Two students drown, four saved

Two school students who were on a school trip drowned off the shores of Punnaikuda in Eravur on Saturday morning. Twenty-one students along with a teacher from Vigneswaram Vidyalaya in Eravur were on a trip to Punnaikuda beach. At the time of the incident the students had been taking a sea bath when a strong current dragged six students into the deep sea.

Divers at the police checkpoint in Thalavai were able to save four students but only the bodies of a male and female student were found later. The deceased were identified as Kalei Chelvam Manodeepan(13) and Udayakumar Rupika(13). The other four were rushed to the Eravur Hospital.

Father arrested for kidnapping son

By Augustine Fernando

Koswatte police arrested a man in connection with the kidnapping of his 15-year-old son, who was in the care of a priest. Along with the man, police also arrested the owner of the house where the boy was held.

The boy’s parents who are said to be in dire financial straits -- had handed the youth to the care of Fr. Francislaus Appuhamy, from where he attended a Government school in Halduwana. On the day in question - November 1- the youth had gone to get a reload for his cellular phone, but failed to return. When he failed to return, the police were notified. Subsequently the priest had received a phone call demanding the payment of ransom for the boy’s release.

The caller also threatened both the priest and the victim with death if the matter was reported to the police.The priest however contacted the police, who laid a trap to nab the culprits. They made arrangements to make the money available to the kidnappers.

At the appointed hour the kidnapper arrived on the scene and when trying to collect the money was nabbed by the police who were in civvies.

The kidnapper turned out to be the father of the boy. On interrogation the father confessed he had kidnapped him to raise funds to get over his financial difficulties. The boy had been held in a house at Mahawewa. The father, the owner of the house and the boy are in police custody.

Another group of boatpeople apprehended off Beruwala

By S. Siriwardene

A desperate attempt to illegally sail to Seychelles by boat failed after Beruwala police arrested 10 migrants along with their boat in high seas close to the Lighthouse, Beruwala on Friday.

According to police, the arrest was made on a tip-off by the Navy that the boat was to rendezvous with another coming from Trincomalee along with a group of illegal migrants.

Investigations reveal that a local businessman is involved in illicit transport of immigrants to Seychelles, while another businessman presently under arrest in Seychelles, is operating the illegal immigration into that country. The arrested persons are residents of Matara, Negombo, Maggona and Beruwala.

Further investigations are being conducted under the instructions of DIG- Kalutara District, Ajith Wickremasekera, IP Lalith Pathinayake and SP Uditha Perera with HQI Beruwala Kavinda Piyasekare in charge of investigations.

Exclude proft-making enterprises from takeover, says UNP

By Chandani Kirinde

The main opposition United National Party (UNP) will move amendments to the controversial “Revival of Underperforming Enterprises and Underutilized Assets Bill” in Parliament on Wednesday to exclude some enterprises listed for takeover.

Sevenagala Sugar Industries Limited, Lanka Tractors Limited, Ceylinco Leisure Properties Limited and Pelwatta Sugar Industries Limited are among the enterprises the UNP wants excluded because they are profit-making ventures.

“We are vehemently opposed to the bill but as the government is determined to pass it we are moving an amendment to prevent the takeover of some of the profit making ventures,” Chief Opposition Whip John Amaratunga said.

He said the amendments had been handed over to Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa. Mr. Amaratunga said he would also make a special statement in Parliament on Tuesday, highlighting the dangers of this bill to the country’s economy.

“SLFP-led governments have often imposed laws which have crippled the business sector and this is another such move,” he charged. The Supreme Court’s determination on the constitutionality of the bill is expected to be announced by the Speaker in Parliament on Tuesday.

The President had referred the bill to the Supreme Court for a ruling on its constitutionality, saying the legislation was urgent in the national interest. Prime Minister D.M.Jayaratna will present the controversial bill in Parliament on Tuesday and it will be taken up for debate on Wednesday.

The bill provides for the vesting in the state identified underperforming enterprises or underutilized assets as well as the appointment of a competent authority to provide for their effective management, administration or revival through alternative utilization.

Changes in SriLankan board

SriLankan Airlines has added two new directors representing the two State banks and filled another vacancy created by business professional Chris Nonis who was recently appointed Sri Lankan High Commissioner in London.

Kapila Chandrasena, the airline’s Director/CEO said Lakshmi Sangakkara, a board director at People’s Bank (PB) and W.A. Nalini, General Manager at the Bank of Ceylon (BoC) have been appointed as new directors on the board.

Mr. Nonis’ vacancy has been filled by Mount Lavinia Hotel Chairman Sanath Ukwatte, who has served previously on the board.

The two banks have a stake in the airline after the Government acquired the shares held by Emirates and requested PB, BoC and the National Savings Bank to fund the sale through a share swap. The BoC has a 20 percent stake and the others around 10 percent or less. The other directors of the airline are Nishantha Wickremasinghe (chairman), Shamindra Rajapaksa, Manilal Fernando, Nihal Jayamanne PC and Kapila Chandrasena (also CEO).

No ‘religion’ in English, says Education Ministry

A request from the President’s Office to the Education Ministry to favourably consider a plea to allow students in Government and semi-Government schools to allow G.C.E (Ordinary Level) students to sit the Roman Catholic and Christianity papers in English has been turned down.

The Presidential Secretariat has sent two separate letters to the Education Ministry Secretary and requested him to find an early solution to the problem. The latest letter was sent last week.
The parents who have made representations to the President’s Office said that that most of the students follow religion in the English medium and therefore they should be given the opportunity to sit the exam in English.

The parents have also pointed out that most of the students followed Sunday school classes which were held in English and therefore the students should be given the opportunity to sit the exam in English.

Students who have already applied to sit the exam in the English medium have been told to withdraw their applications and instead sit the exam in Sinhala or Tamil. Parents have pointed out that though students from Government and semi-Government schools were not allowed to sit the papers in English students in international schools were allowed to sit the exam in English thereby discriminating against a section of the students.

Examinations Commissioner General Anura Edirisinha told the Sunday Times that he cannot take a decision on the matter and it was up to the Education Ministry to take a decision. However an official at the Education Ministry Secretary’s office said that the Examinations Department also has the responsibility of deciding on such issues.

Ministry Secretary H.R.Gunasekara was not available for comment.

Youth dies in suspicious circumstances after visiting Police Narcotics Bureau

By Chris Kamalendran

A JMO report on the death of a youth who went to the Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) has revealed that the body had several injuries and death was due to asphyxia. This was revealed at the inquest into the death of Mohamad Sathik Mohamad Fahim of Maligawatta when it came up before Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne.

The victim Sathik Mohamad
His wife

Mohamad Sathak Saifer told the inquiry that his brother’s death had occurred in a suspicious manner.

He told court that his brother had gone to the PNB on Sunday morning to sign the case book in compliance with a court order, and did not return home till 3 p.m.

“When I inquired over the matter from the PNB officers, they told me that those who signed the case book had already left its office. For the second time, I went there and asked about my brother’s whereabouts.

Then they directed me to the Maligawatta police station. Finally, I got to know that he had been admitted to the accident ward and then taken to the mortuary,” the witness said.

The witness said his brother was a father of two small children and moved court that punishment be meted out to the culprits responsible for his death. Further magisterial inquiry into the incident was postponed for November 11. Counsel Rasika Weerathunga with Nipuna Wimalasekera appeared for the aggrieved party.

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