India’s elite federal counter-terrorist force, the National Security Guard (NSG) has trained a select group of personnel attached to the Sri Lanka Prime Minister’s Security Division (PMSD), the Commando Force Chief S. S. Deswal said on Friday. According to a report by the Press Trust of India (PTI), the official Indian news agency, Mr Deswal [...]


India’s elite black cat commandos train PM’s security personnel


India’s elite federal counter-terrorist force, the National Security Guard (NSG) has trained a select group of personnel attached to the Sri Lanka Prime Minister’s Security Division (PMSD), the Commando Force Chief S. S. Deswal said on Friday.

According to a report by the Press Trust of India (PTI), the official Indian news agency, Mr Deswal said the force has acquired the most modern weapons and equipment to distinguish itself as a “world class zero-error force” and trained 21 personnel of Sri Lanka’s PMSD in close protection skills.

“The honourable Prime Minister of Sri Lanka wrote to the honourable Indian PM and praised the training,” Mr Deswal said in his address on the occasion of the force’s 36th Raising Day.

He, however, did not mention the time period when these personnel were trained by the NSG. India’s National Security Guard, also known as the ‘black cat’ commandos, was raised as a federal contingency force in 1984 to undertake specialist counter-terrorist, counter-hijack and hostage rescue operations.

The report did not give the name of the Prime Minister but indications are that it was Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Yoshitha as Chief of Staff: Chinese Embassy News 1st

Days have gone by when local media institutions broke news on key appointments in the government and followed up with congratulatory messages by foreign embassies. Nowadays, one wonders if that’s happening vice versa.

Until the Chinese embassy tweeted on Thursday about the appointment of the Prime Minister’s new Chief of Staff Yoshitha Rajapaksa, his second son, many in newsrooms were not aware of the appointment.

There was no official announcement from the Prime Minister’s Office either. Following the tweet, and only when contacted, did the office confirm the appointment.

On Thursday the Chinese Embassy’s Chargé d’affaires Hu Wei congratulated Yoshitha Rajapaksa for assuming office as the new Chief of Staff to Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa. Bilateral friendship and follow-ups of recent high-level visits were discussed.

CID questions Wigneswaran on disputable statements

Jaffna District Parliamentarian, retired Supreme Court Justice C.V. Wigneswaran does not fail to keep his name on the pages of dailies by issuing controversial statements or occasional interviews.

Early this week a Criminal Investigation Department (CID) team led by a Sub- Inspector visited him at his Jaffna residence to record a statement on some remarks he made recently. He claimed that the language of Sri Lanka’s indigenous communities was Tamil, citing various historical research studies, while stressing that the Mahavamsa cannot be considered a historical document and questioned its contents.

Following the statement which gained media attention in the South, a Buddhist monk lodged a complaint to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) alleging Wigneswaran’s statements are disrupting ethnic harmony and reconciliation between communities.

The CID team asked the former Supreme Court Justice why he was making such statements recently. The Jaffna district Parliamentarian answered that he was merely responding to questions sent to him by the locals and those who voted for him.

He told the CID team, it was similar to clearing the doubts of a student, drawing an example of his past role as a one time lecturer at the Sri Lanka Law College. The CID team recorded a written statement and left his residence.


Laggala PS meeting brings the roof down

The Laggala Pradeshiya Sabha council meeting was in session on Thursday with the Chairman presiding, when the roof collapsed.

The building was put up just three years ago to coincide with the opening of the Moragahakanda reservoir in the Polonnaruwa district. This was a project in which former President Maithripala Sirisena showed a keen interest.

It was no secret that some of the buildings were hurriedly built as the new town and these buildings were opened simultaneously. Cracks were seen on some of the constructions even before the buildings were opened. The name Laggala was given to this new township because most of the people there were relocated from the old Laggala town in the adjoining Matale district.

When the PS Chairman Buddhika Senaratne was reading through the minutes of the previous meeting, the roof collapsed. Fortunately, no one was injured and the members and officials ran out of the hall.

Subsequently, technical officers visited the building and noted that the building had not been constructed in accordance with approved standards. It was only the other day that a major furor erupted when in the Kandy district a badly constructed hotel collapsed and killed a young couple.

Controversial spin to film on cricket wizard Murali

World renowned cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan’s Biopic ‘800’ sparked controversy this week in Tamil Nadu where Tamil nationalist parties and fringe diaspora groups are protesting against Tamil film hero Vijay Sethupathi demanding him to step down from playing the role of the Sri Lankan cricketer of yesteryear.

With the releasing of a fresh poster this week, the groups and netizens are up in arms against South India’s versatile actor urging him to leave the project citing the world renowned ‘spin wizard’ was insensitive to Tamil feelings in the past, particularly during the wartime years. They have also objected to Murali’s association with the Rajapaksas in Sri Lankan politics. Taking the matter to Twitter, the protesting groups made it a trend with the hastag #ShameonVijaySethupathi.

The makers of the Tamil film 800 issued a clarification, saying the film is purely a sports biography, and that it is being politicised.

“We, as the producers, assure that this film will not showcase any scenes that would belittle the struggles of Eelam Tamils in Sri Lanka or hurt their sentiments in any way. On a positive note, the film will engage the Tamil film community in Sri Lanka, providing the artistes and technicians with a platform to showcase their talents on a global stage,” said a statement issued by them on Thursday.

According to the official synopsis, 800 is a fast-paced and funny biopic, and will be a moving portrayal of one of cricket’s most brilliant and divisive characters, and a tale of ethnicity and pride. The film will be shot in Sri Lanka, U.K, Australia and India. The shoot will start at the beginning of 2021 and the movie is set to be released at the end of 2021.

The film will be made primarily in Tamil, and will also be dubbed in all South Indian languages, as well as Hindi, Bengali and Sinhala. An international version with English subtitles is also being planned.


TNA cannot see eye to eye on mouthpiece

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has been finding it hard to name a news spokesman for the party.

Recently, the TNA members met in Jaffna, but could not finalise a decision as leader R. Sampanthan could not attend the meeting. Again, this week TNA met at the residence of M. A. Sumanthiran in Colombo, but failed to elect a spokesman.

This is because two other parties in the alliance are claiming the position of the spokesman. They are Democratic People’s Liberation Front leader Dharmalingam Siddarthan and Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation leader Selvam Adaikalanathan.

The alliance is scheduled to have another meeting to decide on the new spokesman two months after the Parliamentary elections were held.


Why Hoole did not attend Temple Trees talks

When a meeting took place between Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and members of the Election Commission on Friday at Temple Trees, conspicuous by their absence were two of the EC’s three commissioners.

The EC delegation headed by EC Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya, included three senior officials. Commissioners N.J. Abeysekara PC and Prof. S. Rathnajeevan H. Hoole did not attend.

Asked why he did not take part in the meeting, Prof Hoole, who is based in Jaffna, told close associates that the manner and location for the meeting did not suit the conduct of an independent Commission. He was referring to meeting the Prime Minister at his official residence.

He recalled that during the previous administration such meetings were held in the parliament complex.

Friday’s talks were centred on electoral reforms including the introduction of an e-voting system, voting rights of Lankan migrant workers and postal voting facilities. Premier Rajapaksa assured the EC chairman that he would appoint a Parliamentary Select Committee to recommend necessary  amendments to Election laws.

Prof. Hoole, who built his academic career on electronics and magnetics studies, told close associates that when he proposed e-voting two years ago, many at the Commission were sceptical about it but now they seemed to jump into the bus, welcoming it as an urgent need of the hour.

Saudi posting now for career diplomat?

Last week’s item in the Café Menu on the appointment of a new ambassador to Saudi Arabia seems to have caused major consternation among the foreign service community.

Heavy lobbying  has now seemingly resulted in the decision to send former Matale Mayor Hilmy Mohammed being either reversed or put ‘on hold’ and a ministerial decision to send career diplomat A. Jawad in his place.

This comes in the wake of foreign service officers pointing out that the quota of career diplomats has dropped to a new low of 35 percent in view of the surge of political appointees in recent months.

Another bone of contention is the requirement for career officers to retire at 60, while political appointees have no age barrier.

Some other career diplomatic appointments in the pipeline  are: D. Semasinghe to Poland, A.M.J. Sadiq to Nigeria, M.K. Pathmanaathan to Egypt, Aruni Ranarajah to the Netherlands and D. Perera to Sweden.

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