The Sunday TimesNews/Comment
4th May 1997




Kelaniya undergrads claim officials ignored threats

By Chamintha Tilakaratna

Students of the Kelaniya University on Friday accused authorities of having failed to prevent the recent clashes which left at least 10 students injured and some of them critically.

Anuraddha Herath, President of the Science Student’s Union at the Campus and one of the victims of the assault told ‘The Sunday Times’ that he had informed the Vice Chancellor and the Registrar of a number of threats that had been made by a group of students who are involved with political parties outside the campus. yet, no action had been taken in relation to these complaints which, they feel led to the attack by about 250 persons, he claimed.

“We believe that if they took any action, these incidents could have been prevented,” he said.

According to the injured, students from the Peradeniya and the Katubedda Universities have also taken part in the attack.

“The varsity grounds and some facilities were used by JVP members along with some university students involved in these activities for the practice sessions of their May Day marches and bands. The university student body opposed this and complained to the authorities,” the victims related.

“The student body who hung a banner saying ‘do not bring politics into the university’ had been confronted by a group of students who had identified themselves as members of the JVP and said, ‘We are the only ones who are involved in politics in the university and we are the ones you are trying to oppose. Either you take these banners down or we will attack,” the victims recounted

Anuruddha Herath also alleged that they had threatened him at his hostel room warning him not to oppose their work and to be careful if he continued to do so.

Samanatha Fernando, another victim who is at present is admitted at the General Hospital said that when the request to take down the banners were not taken into consideration the JVP activists began to attack the 15-20 students with iron bars, chains and even swords. Many had to be admitted to the hospital as a result.

Vice Chancellor of the University of Kelaniya said that outsiders come into the University. “Most often they come to visit the students, which I cannot prevent,” said Prof. Costa “I don’t think that the students will make such accusations against me such as that I could have prevented the incident and that they had informed me 2of such activities. It happened at around 12 noon when the security was not alert, otherwise we would have been able to do something,” he said. However, he denied that he knew of any JVP activities in the university.

Sudden Shell strike cripples gas supplies

Gas supplies were disrupted islandwide over the weekend as trade unions at the Shell Gas went on a strike on Friday, after weeks of negotiations between them and the management failed.

The strike by Shell Gas employees, resulted in a sudden scarcity of gas in Colombo and brought the industry to a virtual standstill. But company officials maintained that a section of the workers refused to take part in this trade union action organised by the All Ceylon Commercial and Industrial Workers Union.

A spokesman for the ACCIWU told The Sunday Times they had to resort to strike action as their demands were not met on time.

Shell Gas in a statement said they were not in agreement with certain demands such as the reinstatement of a driver whose services were terminated following a serious accident involving an LPG tanker, some transfers, including promotional transfers, and routine transfers of security staff.

The company said any industrial action over these issues was not justified under the terms and conditions of the settlement made between the Company and the ACCIWU in November 1996.

Shell said it regretted the inevitable disruption of gas supplies and the inconvenience caused to the general public and businessmen.

It said the company remained available for more talks with trade unions at any time.

Union charges against CEB official probed

The Bribery Commission has begun investigating alleged corruption charges against a high ranking official, at the Ceylon Electricity Board following a complaint to the CEB Chairman, by the Board’s Engineers’ Union.

The Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers’ Union (CEBEU) has alleged that an official is drawing a board-pension without serving an uninterrupted 20-year term.

The official told ‘The Sunday Times’ that these facts are fabricated and that he would resort to legal action against the concerned parties behind the scandal. “It is true that I didn’t serve continuously for twenty years, but with my extension on retirement, I have completed this term”, he said.

The official added that the board had approved the pensions of five others along with his, who did not serve twenty years on retirement. “The board is the authority and it has approved the payments”, he said rejecting that this decision should come with the Labour Commissioner’s blessings.

President of the CEBEU, Ranjith Fonseka told ‘The Sunday Times’ that the official along with the board members are to be summoned by the Bribery Commission very shortly.

CEB Chairman, Arjuna Deraniyagala when contacted said that he has no authority to remove his deputy based on CEBEU’s allegations, but said that the Board would await the Bribery Commssions’ proceedings instead.

Currently the official chairs a tender board which is dealing with Rs. 2000 million worth of tenders each year. “I would have been kicked out by the government, by now if I had faulted”, said the official further defending himself.

Paedophile offences non-bailable soon

By M. Ismeth

Paedophile offences will soon be made a non-bailable offence. Addressing a press conference at Police Headquarters on Friday DIG M.S. Nizam said once the amendments to the law are made, foreign or local paedophiles will have second thoughts before they commit such a disgraceful offence.

Child abuse has put Sri Lanka as a place which is being used by foreigners with the alleged connivance of locals.

Associated with the DIG and other Police Officers was the Swiss delegation which has come here to investigate and record evidence of children who had been sexually abused by the Swiss national Victor Baumann.

Swiss District Attorney (Magistrate), Peter Pellegrini said that he was fully satisfied with the recording of evidence of the victims held in Negombo.

Mr. Pellegrini who was assisted by Mr. Hilmy Marikar, a Sri Lankan now domiciled in Zurich, as official interpreter said that with the assistance of the Lankan police they were able to gather the much needed evidence against Victor Baumann, now in police custody in Zurich.

He said that they had recorded evidence from eight victims aged 13 to 20. The victims were accompanied by their parents to the Browns Beach Hotel where evidence was recorded.

The astonishing part of Swiss law, Mr.Pellegrini said was all recorded evidence of the victims was faxed to Victor Baumann by his lawyer who was also here at the time of recording evidence.

Baumann reads them and gives his comments and also asks whatever questions he has to, and refaxes back to the Swiss team of investigators.

Baumann was deported in February this year only to be arrested in Zurich on arrival.

The DIG said that there had been no child abuse complaints after the deportation of Baumann and the sentencing of Belgian national Armin Pfaffhauser for two years recently.

Under Swiss law the maximum penalty for child abuse is seven and a half years imprisonment whereas under the Sri Lankan law if he was found guilty he would have to serve a sentence ranging from five, seven to 20 years.

Don’t degrade us – surveyors

Govt. Surveyors are threatening strike action from tomorrow in protest against ad hoc training of new recruits in a programme which they see as degrading.

Surveyors’ Association Secretary, K. Shanmugalingam said they had warned the govt. against the training programmes in which only 45 of the 115 recruits had followed the course at the Institute of Surveying and Mapping.

Even of those 45 less than half had the required qualifications.

Mr. Shanmugalingam said such arbitrary training would bring down the status of surveyors and was also a violation of regulations.

Come for a check-up

The Sri Lanka Cancer Society is offering tests free of charge to anyone at its policlinic in Buller’s Lane, Colombo 7 next Sunday and on the second Sunday of every month, the Society said.

Screening, clinical examination and advice by a team of medical specialists will be provided to all callers free of charge.

Continue to the News/Comment page 2 - * Seevali Wijewardene passes away, * Paintings exhibition, * Seminar for public servants, * Avurudhu nurse murder that shocked Dompe, * Kadir’s good wishes to Foreign Secretary, * UNP launches protest campaign, * Friends of Lanka group in the House, * Funeral of ‘Gusty’ Wirasinghe today, * Photography courses

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