It was Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who persuaded President Maithripala Sirisena to impose a curfew after last Sunday’s Easter massacre, a UNF source said yesterday. The source described the sequence of events as follows; On Sunday at 9.05 am, the Prime Minister called his Secretary Saman Ekanayake informing him that he was returning to Colombo [...]


Political drama before curfew was declared


It was Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who persuaded President Maithripala Sirisena to impose a curfew after last Sunday’s Easter massacre, a UNF source said yesterday. The source described the sequence of events as follows;

On Sunday at 9.05 am, the Prime Minister called his Secretary Saman Ekanayake informing him that he was returning to Colombo from Bentota to meet him at Temple Trees.

At 9.15 am, Mr. Ekanayake called the Prime Minister and suggested they immediately call in the Inspector General of Police (IGP), the Defence Secretary and the heads of the armed forces. The Premier agreed.

When called they said they were doing some work and would be there by 10.30 am. However, at 10.20 am when Mr. Ekanayake called again they said they were still doing some work and would come later.

At that point, Mr Ekanayake informed the Prime Minister that he felt they were not going to come. The PM told him immediately to get his car ready, so that that they could go to the Defence Ministry and meet them there.

When the PM arrived at the Defence Ministry at 10.30 am, they were informed that the National Security Council (NSC) was finishing some work and they would have to wait outside. Despite the Prime Minister’s Secretary insisting that the PM be allowed inside, the security officers refused.

The PM was escorted to the State Minister’s Office where he was made to wait for twenty minutes.  At 10.20 am, he was finally allowed to chair a meeting with the NSC; they briefed him on the current status after the massacres and outlined the security plans.

The Council members did not discuss the prior warnings, saying that they would examine why there was a lapse in security.

The PM returned to Temple Trees at 11.45 am and spoke to several senior Ministers. He suggested that the NSC be called to brief the Cabinet which was to meet at 3 pm that same day.

When Mr Ekanayake called the President’s Secretary, Udaya Seneviratne, informing him of the meeting, he responded that NSC members were busy with other work and would not be able to brief the cabinet.

He also told Mr. Ekanayake that the President had insisted a curfew would not be implemented nor would social media be blocked until he returned to the country.

However, following the Dehiwela and Dematagoda explosions that afternoon, the PM instructed the IGP to impose curfew immediately.


Burqa panic
Burqa-dressed men created panic at the BIA and in Wattala this week. On Tuesday, one such incident took place when a burka-dressed man was arrested at the BIA’s arrival lounge. The man told police that he was from Colombo and he got dressed in a burqa to surprise his girlfriend who was returning from Qatar.
However the man was arrested by the police for questioning.

Another such incident took place at Hendala in Wattala when a burqa-dressed man was found walking on the street. The residents unmasked him and handed him over to the Police. The man had said he was going to meet a woman in the area. However the police claimed that the man was mentally unbalanced and was sent for treatment.

Don’t leave your vehicles unattended

With heightened security concerns, some unfortunate persons had their cars forcibly opened or their motorcycles blown up after leaving them unattended for several hours.

One of them was a Vavuniya doctor who had visited the Jaffna hospital for official duties. He has parked his vehicle outside the hospital and was inside the premises for the next three hours.

Outside, the people had panicked and called the Police who were trying to find the owner. The car was forcibly opened and they found that it belonged to a doctor from Vavuniya.

The Vavuniya Police were alerted in a team sent to the doctor’s house.

When the doctor came out he found all his files pulled out and the vehicle opened while a large number had gathered and were watching.

Near the Police headquarters in Colombo, a youth had parked his motorcycle and gone away.  On return, he found that the Police had surrounded the bike.  He was taken into custody.

Another youth parked his bike at Wellawatte and, a short while later, a bystander had informed the police about the unattended bike.

The STF had blown open his seat, damaging the bike.  The youth who turned up a few minutes later was warned and released.

In Negombo, there was confusion inside a restaurant when they found an unattended bag. Police and the bomb squad were alerted as in the nearby area funerals were taking place for those killed in the Easter Sunday’s blast.

Amara Majeed: A US civic rights activist falsely identified as a terror suspect

Probe on massacres: Blunders by Police

Police made a shocking blunder when they wrongly fingered a young US woman as a suspect wanted in connection with the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks. It further dented the credibility of the authorities who are already accused of failing to heed intelligence warnings in the days leading up to the attack.

On Thursday, Police released names and images of six suspects; three men and three women, wanted in connection with the attacks. They appealed for public assistance to find them. One of the names mentioned along with the photographs was Abdul Cader Fathima Khadiya.

However, it was not long before local Twitter users pointed out that the photograph was that of Amara Majeed, a Muslim activist, university student and author in the United States. She was born to Sri Lankan parents. Police Media Unit subsequently issued a correction, apologising for the error and stating that the CID was seeking a female suspect named Abdul Cader Fathima Khadiya, but the woman in the photograph was not the individual they were seeking to arrest.

The damage, however, had been done. Ms Majeed’s Facebook page was flooded with hateful and racist comments, accusing her of being a terrorist.

Ms. Majeed herself issued a statement on Twitter and Facebook: “Hello everyone! I have this morning been FALSELY identified by the Sri Lankan government as one of the ISIS terrorists that have committed the Easter attacks in Sri Lanka. What a thing to wake up to! This is obviously completely false and frankly, considering that our communities are already greatly afflicted with issues of surveillance, I don’t need more false accusations and scrutiny. Please stop implicating and associating me with these horrific attacks. And next time, be more diligent about releasing such information that has the potential to deeply violate someone’s family and community.”

The glaring error came on the same day authorities acknowledged they had overestimated the number of deaths from the attacks by about 100.

It also came on the very day that the Government Information Department issued a statement telling the people to rely only on “verified official information” provided by the Police spokesman, Tri Forces spokespersons and the Information Department.”

Trump’s terrible mistake on Lankan tragedy

The heinous Easter Sunday terrorist attacks evoked worldwide condemnation, including from many Heads of State.

United States President Donald Trump, too, took to his favourite medium, Twitter, to condemn the attack and offer assistance to Sri Lanka. He, however, made a characteristic typo, overestimating the casualty toll by millions. He tweeted: “138 million people have been killed in Sri Lanka, with more than 600 badly injured, in a terrorist attack on churches and hotels. The United States offers heartfelt condolences to the great people of Sri Lanka. We stand ready to help!”

The US President later deleted the tweet and posted the correct number of 138 deaths reported at the time.  Twitter users though, continued to ridicule his ability to make laughable blunders even when referring to terrible tragedies.

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