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17th August 1997


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Mirror Magazine

Happy birthday PA. The UNP which organised islandwide protests to highlight the broken promises of the government, had chosen anovel way of wishing the PA on its third anniversary. The picture of a loaf of bread with three candles on it, taken at Liptons Circus yesterday, says it all, what with the recent price increase of bread. Pic by Sajeewa Chinthaka


UNP dare threats to protest

Success in south; violence in other areas

The UNP dared threats, intimidation by groups associated with ruling party politicians to hold its countrywide mass protest campaign yesterday to coincide with PA's three years in office.

Several violent incidents broke out as the UNP protested showing its dissatisfaction with the PA government and its broken promises, by shouting slogans, burning effigies of President Chandrika Kumaratunga, and holding meetings.

Opposition and UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe told reporters the protests were aimed at demonstrating public opinion about government's failure to fulfil its promises.

"The government has not been able to do anything in the past three years and it is unlikely that it will do anything worthwhile in the next three years," Mr. Wickremesinghe who took part in some of the protests rallies said.

The UNP had its main demonstration at the Lipton Circus in Colombo with hundreds of party members participating.

At Ratmalana, a Senior Police Officer grabbed the placards and tore them up as the UNP carried their protest campaign, organiser Upul Jayasuriya said adding that it was strange that the Police Officer was against the protest.

Our Kandy Correspondent J.A.L. Jayasinghe reported that at Rikillagaskanda Town, a large armed gang fired into the air, and forcibly dispersed a group of UNPers who were putting up a stage. Later the gang had attacked the Pradeshiya Sabha office, a shop, a filling station, a hotel, and a van causing heavy material damage.

A Pradeshiya Sabha Member was also among the gang, eyewitnesses said.

In Karuwalagaswewa in the North Central Province a UNP Pradeshiya Sabha member's house was set on fire.

At Pelawatte Junction in Kaduwela, a stage and decorations were pulled down, while an armed gang scared away the UNPers by firing into the air. Similar incidents were reported at Biyagama and Kandana.

When violence broke out in Pelawatte, Dr.Karunasena Kodituwakku quipped how this area could be a safe zone to construct the Presidential Palace.

At Gampaha a vehicle carrying some UNPers including a Pradeshiya Sabha member was checked opposite Deputy Minister Reggie Ranatunga's house, by his security personnel, who, it is alleged, found hand grenades in their possession. The UNPers were arrested and handed over to the police along with their vehicle.

UNP General Secretary Gamini Athukorale described yesterday's anti-PA campaign as successful in spite of the disruptions, which he claimed was caused by PA supporters.

Our Kalutara correspondent, H.P.P.Perera said a large number of people were present at the campaign held at the Beruwela Town under the leadership of Kalutara district MP Imthiaz Bakeer Markar.

Large numbers of placards were displayed condemning the three-year rule of the government and highlighting the unfulfilled election pledges as well as the price increase of bread that has directly hit the poor masses.

Before the beginning of the public meeting, a Sathyagraha was held in the Beruwela Town.

Our Galle Correspondent Gamini Mahaduwa said there were protest meetings and poster campaigns all over the southern province. Placard-carrying protesters shouted slogans in many places in the province.

SB's media officer assaulted

A dispute between the Presidential Secretariat and the Sports Ministry overshadowed the red carpet welcome given to sprint queen Susanthika Jayasinghe on Tuesday— culminating in an attack on the Sports Ministry's Media officer.

Susanthika on her arrival after winning a silver medal at the World Athletics meet in Athens, was met and accompanied by Sports Minister S. B. Dissanayake on the victory parade from the airport to the Sports Ministry and then to Temple Trees. But an apparent dispute between the President's media staff and the sports ministry forced a change of plans and Susanthika eventually did not meet the President as scheduled last Tuesday.

The Sports Ministry Media Officer, Mangala Janaka, who was in charge of arrangements for the welcome ceremonies, had a horrible experience in the aftermath of this dispute.

On the way home on Tuesday night Mr. Janaka was brutally beaten up at the high-security Thummulla junction in Bambalapitiya by a gang of some 15 thugs who had followed him in Pajeros, then overtaken and obstructed the media officers vehicle.

Mr. Janaka told 'The Sunday Times' he was not sure why he was assaulted but before the attack they had asked 'are you the Mangala working with S.B'. Police said no arrests have been made so far..

Susanthika later met Premier Sirimavo Bandaranaike at Rosmead Place on Wednesday while the meeting with President Kumaratunga eventually took place on Friday. Minister Dissanayake was with her for both meetings.

Meanwhile, Susanthika will leave for Australia on August 24 to participate in a sports medical camp, sports sources said.

Thondaman: I'm hurt

By Roshan Peiris

Minister and CWC leader S. Thondaman says he is deeply hurt by the way the government is treating the estate workers.

Explaining the three demands put forward by him, if the government wanted him to canvass support among estate workers for the devolution package, Mr. Thondaman said the arbitrary distribution of land by politicians mainly for political advantage had demoralised estate workers and posed serious dangers to their very livelihood.

Mr. Thondaman, who turns 85 this month said Sinhala people also had a right to own land in estate areas but that should not be done at the expense of workers who had slaved there for generations.

Outlining his second demand, Mr. Thondaman said 459 of the 502 estates had been privatised. He felt treasury subsidies for the 43 estates still owned by the state should be continued for the benefit of the workers.

Mr. Thondaman's third demand is an extra 50 cents tax on every kilo of tea exported, with the money being channelled into a fund to provide more facilities to the workers.

He said the Cabinet had first agreed to his proposal, but then changed it in his absence and he felt insulted.

The veteran politician who has dominated the plantations for more than six decades said he hoped to meet President Kumaratunga and PA General Secretary D.M. Jayaratne, who is also Minister of Lands, to sort out the issues soon.

EROS head nabbed with millions

By S.S. Selvanayagam

EROS Leader Shankar Raji has been nabbed at Chennai airport with more than US $225,000 (some 12.5 million Sri Lankan rupees) in his possession, officials said.

The leader of this ex-militant group was produced in a Tamil Nadu court and remanded till a massive fine paid.

Mr. Raji was found with the currency while returning from London and inquiries are continuing to find out from where, for what and for whom he got the massive amount of cash.

Tamil political sources in Colombo said some Tamil Party leaders were trying to use influence with the Tamil Nadu government to get Mr. Raji released while efforts were also underway to raise the money for the payment of fine.

JSC probes magistrate's alleged role in rape case

By Christopher Kamalendran

The Judicial Services commission has launched an investigation on an allegation against a Magistrate who has reportedly raped a wife of a suspect in custody.

A senior official of the Commission confirmed that an investigation into the allegation about the magistrate was being carried out, but declined to give details.

According to the allegation the Magistrate is alleged to have raped her on the pretext of obtaining a statement from her about her husband who had been in custody for having stolen gold jewellery in possession. The incident is said to have taken place late last year, but the complaint had been made to the JSC in April this year.

The Magistrate is reported to have denied the allegation. He has complained the matter to the Attorney General and lodged a complaint with the Police.

In a separate development the Officer in Charge (OIC) of the police station in the area where the Magistrate is serving is also under investigation for allegedly threatening the woman who claims to have been raped by the Magistrate. The officer is said to have threatened her not to divulge information on the alleged rape incident.

The OIC is already under interdiction for submitting a false report to his senior officer who wanted him to investigate another rape case in which six police officers from the same police station are reported to be involved in.

The Deputy Inspector General (DIG) in charge of the area had ordered the OIC to submit a report about a rape case in the area, but the officer had submitted a report clearing the six policemen of their charges. Subsequent inquiries by the senior officials had revealed that the OIC's report was incorrect.

The six policemen of this station also have been interdicted, pending a full investigation.

The SP in charge of the area told The Sunday Times a full investigation into the allegations against the OIC and his fellow officers was in progress.

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