22nd June 1997


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Bad boys of Bollywood

Bollywood stars Salman Khan and Karishma Kapoor might have thrilled thousands of fans at last Saturday’s show, but their behaviour at a media conference the next day had more spills than thrills.

In the first place they kept the media waiting for more than one-and-a-half-hours. The news conference at the Oberoi was scheduled for 3.30, but by 4.30 there was no sign of them and it took all the PR skills of Faisal Bongso, one of the organisers to persuade the journalists to stay on.

Reluctantly they waited though the conference room clearly had more fans then journalists. For some strange reason security men at the hotel were also extra tough on the journalists checking all their identities while fans were seen to be moving around freely.

While there was delay downstairs, there appeared to be some devilry upstairs. Organisers hunting for the star banged at his door to find him not with one beauty but two local beauties. What a way for these beauties to promote Sri Lanka?

Anyway the star himself was not embarrassed. Openly if not arrogantly be insisted he could do whatever he liked and it was nobody’s business.

After all the rumpus upstairs and downstairs the stars finally came for the media conference. But all was still not well. With most of the questions being directed at Salman Khan an apparent personality problem or clash of interest led to a virtual walk out by Karishma Kapoor.

That brought the curtain down on a distasteful song and dance.

One shot dead in mid-night petrol shed drama

By Christopher Kamalendran

B.M. Thalagala, a retired petroleum corporation officer on Thursday night was about to prepare for a well earned night’s rest after a hard day’s work at his petrol shed at Pitakotte.

The workers at the shed were counting the cash they had received as Mr. Thalagala was making preparations to finalise the accounts and close up the shed as he had done every day for the past three years since he leased out the shed.

A black car drove up to the filling shed, the worker in charge of duties politely turned down their request to pump petrol saying that they had closed up for the day. A young man clad in a trouser and T-shirt walked into the manager’s (Thalagala’s) room.

The man who went into the manager’s room took some time to return. Noises coming from the room prompted one of the pump assistants to go in there only to find that his master was grappling with a man with a pistol.

The gunman was trying to get the day’s collection but Mr. Thalagala was resisting. As the pump attendant intervened, the gunman opened fire injuring the worker.

The other two men in the car knowing that their colleague was in trouble sent one of them to the rescue of their colleague.

The man who came out from the car pulled the weapon from his friend and opened fire at Mr. Thalagala. He was taken to the hospital but was pronounced dead on admission.

Police officials said they suspect that an army deserter had been involved in the murder, but until yesterday no breakthrough had been made.

$300,000 as drug aid from US

This year, the United States is providing USD 300,000 to the Colombo Plan’s Drugs Advisory Program (DAP) to help fund project aimed at preventing substance abuse, supporting those suffering from drug addiction and combating the production and supply of narcotics says a USIS press release.

The agreement granting the USD 300,000 was signed at the US Embassy in Colombo on June 13 by Ambassador A. Peter Burleigh and Dr. Hak Su Kim Secretary General of the Colombo Plan Secretariat.

Since its inception in 1972, the Drug Advisory Program has been working with government and non-government organizations of member countries, in the Asia Pacific region to promote co-ordinated region-wide efforts to reduce both demand for and supply of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substance. DAP uses the voluntary contributions provided by member governments to organize conferences, forums, workshops, fellowships and training programs for judiciary and law enforcement, prevention, treatment and rehabilitation personnel in member countries.

The United States is the major contributor to DAP programs and over the past two years has given over half a million US dollars (29 million rupees) in support.

CMC begins poster war

By Kumaradasa Wagista

Colombo Municipal Council has begun prosecuting those who paste posters, notices and the like defacing city walls, the CMC Health Department said.

Recently the department sent notices to owners of two Colombo tutories to show cause why they should not be prosecuted. In response they told MC authorities that the posters would be removed at their own expense.

Pasting notices in public places is against the law. Meanwhile the 500 bill boards target has not been achieved.

The few that have come up have been monopolised by political parties and trade unions.

The Dutch ditch

By Kshalini Nonis

Employees of the KLM Colombo office which was closed down in March say they have been crash landed without compensation or any other benefits while the Royal Dutch Airlines is flying high all over the world.

In a letter the former KLM employees say their claims for compensation have not been addressed while appeals to the Labour Ministry here have also produced little result.

They say the new Regional Manager appointed to look into KLM matters in Colombo has been negative in his response to their appeals.

Meanwhile, aviation sources said Sri Lanka officials were hoping to have talks with Dutch authorities soon to examine the possibility of getting KLM back to Colombo.

Paintings exhibition

“Sannidhi”, an exhibition of paintings by “Plate Art Group” will be held at Lionel Wendt Art Gallery, Colombo from June 28 to July 03.

The exhibition consisting of paintings of the group’s teacher, Dora Tomulic-Aluwihare and 26 of her students using a variety of styles, will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 7.30 p.m. daily.

Fresh inquest on woman’s death

The body of a woman who was allegedly molested and killed by security forces personnel in the Ampara District was exhumed and brought to Colombo for a fresh post-mortem, Police said on Friday.

The body was exhumed after President Chandrika Kumaratunga ordered a fresh inquiry into the incident after Tamil political parties, human rights organisations and women activists carried out a major campaign about the incident.

The woman had been sexually molested allegedly by four STF personnel who claimed to be involved in a search operation in the area. They later lobbed a hand grenade and killed her and claimed that she was killed in a shell attack, it was reported.

The medical officer who held the post mortem at the Kalmunai hospital was misled by the evidence, it is claimed. The body of the woman was exhumed by the Police under the supervision of the District Judge, Kalmunai, Anton Balasingham.

Four new Navy commodores

President Chandrika Kumaratunga has approved the promotions of four captains to the rank of commodores in the Sri Lanka Navy.

The four officers are: H. S. Rathnakeerthi, S. P. Weerasekera, C. N. Tuduwewatte and L. D. Dharmapriya.

Three officers holding the ranks of commander have also been elevated to captain. They are: Ananda Peiris, D. Samarawickrema and S. R. Samaratunga.

Coffee morning

The committee members’ wives of St. Anthony’s College, Kandy O.B.A. (Colombo Branch) will hold a coffee morning at Hotel Galadari on June 28.

Poverty behind Batti’s baby boom

The war ravaged Batticaloa, Mullaitivu and Ampara districts have strangely recorded the highest birth rates, according to official statistics.

The statistics collected by the Population Information Centre from the Registrar General revealed that Batticaloa had 126 births for every 1000 of the population. Mullaitivu 108.2 and Ampara 107.

At the bottom of the list were Gampaha with 66.3 and Kegalle 68.

A sociologist from Batticaloa said the principal factor for the high birth rate in the district was economic. He said in view of the extreme and widespread poverty many farmers found it difficult to hire labour. So more children would mean more lands for the farm and a better income.

In Mallaitivu the high birth rate is attributed mainly to an influx of people from the hill country. Mullaitivu has plenty of unused land.

Gampaha is known to have a high per capita income with a large middle class population. With growing middle class trends towards family planning the birth rate has been restricted.

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