die hard. The three
service commanders and the police chief stood to attention to say hello
to former Deputy Defence Minister, Anuruddha Ratwatte at the S. W. R. D.
Bandaranaike death anniversary commemoration at Horagolla on September
26. The President was not present at the commemoration
closes in on Thilanga
By Frederica Jansz
Damning evidence further incriminating Chairman, Sri Lanka
Telecom and President, Sri Lanka Cricket, Thilanga Sumathipala surfaced
this week proving that Sumathipala used the finances of the cricket
board in 1999 to send underworld leader Dhammika Amarasinghe to the UK.
Sumathipala not only used the cricket board funds but also
connived with Dhammika to use a forged passport to travel to England to
witness the ICC World Cup cricket matches in 1999 as a delegate of the
BCCSL (Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka).
Following the indisputable evidence, the Criminal
Investigations Department (CID) is to now approach the British High
Commission to ascertain on whose recommendation Dhammika was granted a
visa enter the UK.
The Sunday Leader learns that on a directive by
Sumathipala, the BCCSL had recommended to the British High Commission a
visa to be granted for Dhammika who was travelling on a forged passport.
Last Wednesday, sleuths met with Solicitor General C.R. de
Silva to brief him on the available evidence and were instructed to
proceed in gathering further proof that will corroborate the confession
made by underworld figure Bada Mahinda.
As the investigation tightened, Sumathipala last week was
threatening to take down a minister or two if he continues to be further
implicated in the stunning revelations.
According to Bada Mahinda’s recent confession Thilanga
Sumathipala may have contracted underworld figures to carry out various
deeds including assassination
Sumathipala’s denials to the contrary has this week been
proved to be falsehoods as it has now been proved beyond all doubt that
Sumathipala has indeed maintained a close relationship with the
underworld thug Dhammika Amarasinghe alias Perera.
Meanwhile, Constitutional Affairs Minister, G.L. Peiris
informed The Sunday Leader he was not involved in any discussion
at Minister S.B. Dissanayake’s house or any place else with regard to
this investigation as reported in last week’s issue.
“I have neither discussed this issue nor will I interfere
with an ongoing investigation,” he said.
(See Spotlight Page for details)
in the north after army truck knocks down two civilians
A tensed situation prevailed in Jaffna yesterday after an
Army truck collided with a motorbike, killing the rider and the pillion
rider instantly at the Gurunagar water tank junction.
The incident took place Friday evening at around 5.00 pm.
Following the accident people in the area had reportedly pelted stones
at the army and the army had fired into the air leading to a tension in
All Ceylon Tamil Congress (ACTC) President A. Vinayagamoorthy
who rushed to Jaffna told The Sunday Leader last evening that the
situation was under control.
However he said tension prevailed and the Palaly road was
blocked as some University students had tried to pelt stones at the
armed soldiers. He said that some representatives from the Sri Lanka
Monitoring Mission (SLMM) were also present.
Independent sources from the north said immediately after the
incident took place the members of the public had gathered at the site
and had prevented the army from removing the bodies of the youth.
The army soldier who was driving the truck was taken in for
questioning by police.
Defence secretary Austin Fernando also said the situation was
to go with UNP
Former Education Minister Richard Pathirana rejecting
President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s offer to withdraw all charges framed
against him had told her he would contest the forthcoming Southern
Provincial Council election under the UNP ticket.
The Galle District parliamentarian who was summoned by
President Kumaratunga for a one to one meeting recently told the
President he was not “bothered” about charges being framed against
him but would “certainly” leave the People’s Alliance (PA) and
join the United National Party (UNP).
Pathirana is reported to have confided in two of his PA
colleagues his position with the party and his desire to leave the
party. The two senior parliamentarians on the condition of anonymity
confirmed to The Sunday Leader that Pathirana had thrown a
challenge at President Kumaratunga vowing to leave the party.
The Sunday Leader learns that Pathirana is expected
to be nominated as the chief ministerial candidate to contest the
Southern Provincial Council.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) members who are not
in agreement with the party’s proposed plan to re-negotiate with the
Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) to form an alliance said eight
provincial council members of the PA too are likely to join the UNP with
By Risidra Mendis
The continuing strike initiated by the railway trade unions
has entirely crippled the train services in the country.
On Friday thousands of railway commuters attacked the Fort
and Maradana railway stations after the suspended strike was resumed by
some railway unions.
A Spokesman for the railway said yesterday that the entire
service was paralysed following
the strike action initiated by the unions.
The 48 hour railway strike that crippled hundreds of
commuters a few days ago was brought under control by the quick response
of the members of the Railway Authority (RA). But commuters were in for
shock when the unions relaunched the action Friday.
The spokesman said the scheduled night mail trains were
cancelled and even the few trains that were to be operated could not be
Speaking to The Sunday Leader RA Managing Director N.
Fernando said, a restricted train service for commuters traveling from
Avissawella and Aluthgama was operated during the time of
crisis. However according to Fernando some locomotives experienced
suspected sabotage during the time of crisis. Fernando went on to say
that despite the strike that commenced on September 30, 15 trains
operated. “On October 1, 18 trains were running in the morning and by
evening a larger number of trains were operating.
Meanwhile the Sunday Leader learns that the Railway
Station’s Master’s Union, Guard’s Union, Locomotive Driver’s
Union, Train Controllers Union, Technologists Union and a few workers
Union were involved in the strike. Commenting on the demands of the
Trade Unions Fernando said the strikers agreed to join the RA only if
their demands were met. The demands by the strikers included the payment
of their salary and pension on the same day they join the RA, a salary
increment of 75% and the compensation of loss of service in the
government department. The strikers also wanted employees with eight
years service to continue until they completed ten years, as government
servants, in order to qualify for the pension scheme. According to
Fernando the RA had given the strikers the choice of working under the
authority or for the railway department until retirement. The strikers
were also told that if they join the RA they would be offered better
However Trade Union activists were persistent about their
demands and decided to stage a strike. “The RA had a meeting with
Ministers Tilak Marapana, Gamini Lokuge and Rajitha Senaratne. The
ministers agreed to look into the problems of the workers, but requested
that they be given a little time,” Fernando said.
to set up cricket associations in NE
With a view to improving cricket in the north east Sri Lanka
Cricket (SLC) has planned to organise cricket associations in the war
SLC President, Thilanga Sumathipala and Vice President,
Aravinda de Silva toured the Wanni last week in order to identify
suitable individuals who could be entrusted with the responsibility to
form and run district cricket associations.
Silva told The Sunday Leader he is awaiting a response
from some of the cricket clubs based in the north east to finalise SLC's
plan to organise cricket district associations.
According to him the cricket association in Dambulla
overlooks the north and east and added SLC plans to create two more
additional cricket associations each in the north and east.
Silva said at present there are five district cricket
associations and SLC's plan is to increase it to seven.
“Our idea is to pick talented cricketers from the north
east and encourage them. Our aim is also to improve cricket in these
areas. Cricket associations could not be established in these areas due
to the protracted war. But now that there is no war, we thought cricket
in these areas should be further promoted,” Silva said.
By Shezna Shums
With the present heavy rains expected to continue till the
end of November, people living in Ratnapura, Matara, Galle, Hambantota
and other landslide prone areas have been warned to take extra care by
People who have built their houses on the mountainside have
been requested to be vigilant of landslides.
Director, National Disaster Management Unit,social Welfare
Ministry, N. D.Hettiarachchi said an estimated 1,334 families
have been affected while 89 houses have been totally damaged by last
week’s flash floods in Galle, Matara and Hambantota. He also said 211
houses have been partially damaged with eight people losing their lives.
However Hettiarachchi stated that the divisional secretariats
of these areas have been given funds to carry out relief and
rehabilitation work in the areas coming under their purview.
Hettiarachchi also explained that with the new parliamentary
sub committee on disaster management headed by Power and Energy Minister
Karu Jayasuriya, relief is provided for the families in hardship.
Meteorology Department Director, N.A. Amaradasa explained to The
Sunday Leader that the present inter monsoon will continue till
November. “The rains will
be widespread all over the island,” he said.
did not contact me’ —
Commissioner General, Prisons Department, Rumy Marzook has
denied that Thilanga Sumathipala contacted him in relation to revoking
an order to shift underworld leader Dhammika Amerasinghe from the
Colombo Magazine Prison to Mahara.
The Sunday Leader: It is unfortunate that Rumy
Marzook did not think it fit to check his facts well before issuing a
denial to our front page story last week.
We stand by every word in the article, which is validated by the
fact that Gamini Jayasinghe, chief jailor of the Magazine prison where
the underworld leader Dhammika Amerasinghe is being held, has told
police that an order from Marzook to shift Dhammika to the Mahara prison
was abruptly withdrawn with no explanation.
board panacea for health department ills
The Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC) has called upon the
government to establish an arbitration board forthwith to settle
disputes between the trade unions and the state.
SLMC Deputy President, Dr.Ananda Samarasekara says a series
of trade union action taking place in the health sector is unhealthy not
only to the patients but also to the country in general.
He says wittingly or unwittingly such strike actions have put
tens of thousands of lives in a perilous situation. “If strikes are
allowed to go on the country is going to face massive human losses,”
the senior medical expert warned.
He also said that the health Ministry must take appropriate
action to curb such actions.
According to Dr.Samarasekara the SLMC had made two major
proposals to the government. One he said is the amendment to the medical
ordinance and the other to establish an arbitration board with
individuals selected from the Ministry, the government, trade unions and
the doctors. He said the composition of such a group with powers vested
to discuss and arrive at solutions and also to take necessary decisions
to the problems faced by the health staff, could prevent lightning
strikes that are ‘dangerous’ to the lives of the patients.
He says an arbitration board acceptable to all could be
activated when a labour action is likely to take place due to various
issues. He also says that during the period of the arbitration there
cannot be any strike action initiated by any union. “This should be
made law in this sector. This type of system has worked well with the
private sector. So why not the government try to implement it in the
health sector in view of the number of strikes that occur each year,”
Dr.Samarasekara, one time GMOA president, says this could
create a ‘strike free environment’ in the health sector and
patients’ lives would not be put to danger even in the event disputes
between the state and the unions arose.
He said the SLMC made this proposal to the government about
one and a half years ago but to no avail. “Successive governments have
failed to implement an arbitration board for the health sector. It is
vital to avoid trade union action in this important sector,” he said.
He also said the government has given many promises to
streamline the health sector but so far no proper action in this
direction has ever taken place.
medicos a health hazard
Unregistered medical officers practicing in the country have
increased to an estimated 30,000 and the Health Ministry is under
pressure to grant the Medical Officers of Health (MOH) additional
powers to raid places where quacks are known to practice.
Presently powers are vested with the MOH to raid restaurants
and other eating places. Health Ministry officials say the MOH
should also be given powers to check on those who are posing off
as doctors. They say the quacks practicing in the country has put
the public at ‘huge risk’.
Ministry officials said they have already informed Health
Minister P.Dayaratne but so far he has not taken any action to
remedy the situation.
Meanwhile The Sunday Leader learns the Sri Lanka
Medical Council (SLMC) has proposed to the government to set up a
flying squad to detect quacks in the country. According to
official figures there are only around 18,000 registered medical
doctors in Sri Lanka.
to move out for airbase expansion
By Shezna Shums
The Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) has requested two schools
situated in close proximity to the Batticaloa airport to vacate their
premises in view of an expansion programme of the airport to be carried
According to air force sources the schools are situated in
the SLAF premises and in view of future plans to develop the airport the
request has been made to the respective schools.
Air force sources said as there was no major plan to expand
the airport in Batticaloa earlier there was no necessity to request the
schools to move out. “But now certainly there are new plans and we are
compelled to request the schools not to build any more classrooms and
further increase the structure of the schools. We are also forced to
request them to move from this area.
The two schools are Puthur Vigneswara Vidyalayam and
Methodist Vidyalayam. One
is a big school while the other is fairly small. Of late the big school
had made plans to put up another building. However, SLAF sources stated
that in view of the airport expansion it would be disadvantageous for
the school to put up a building and later be told that they have to move
The sources also said they are confident that the schools
would be moved out of the SLAF premises by end this month.
“The SLAF air base in Batticaloa and the one in Trincomalee
are the only two air force bases in the entire east,” the sources
in tourist arrivals anticipated
An unprecedented influx of tourists is expected by the end of
this year and Tourism Ministry officials say they are fully geared to
cater to the targeted number of 500,000 tourists this year.
According to Tourism Ministry Secretary, Dr.R.Ramunujam, a 28
per cent increase in arrivals is expected this year as against the
He attributed the anticipated increase in tourist arrivals to
the forthcoming test series with the English cricket team and the peace
process that has been in existence for the past 19 months.
He said within two years the country was able to become the
safest destination in Asia.
Meanwhile sources from the Tourist Board said the country
witnessed the last highest number of tourists in 1999 with 436,440
foreigners arriving in Sri Lanka.
They said in 2002 there was a 16.7 per cent increase as
against year 2001 and added this year the trend is to go up to 28 per
cent. They described this as a ‘giant leap’.
According to the Tourist Board officials 50 to 60 per cent of
the tourist markets are from Western Europe with United Kingdom
contributing to 26 per cent while Germany accounts for 11 per cent.
The other popular tourist markets are India (27 per cent),
which they say is the primary market and Japan, France, Italy and the
Netherlands, considered to be the secondary market.
According to the Tourist Board the revenue the country earned
during the 2002 tourist season was an estimated US dollars 253 million
and with the present target of 500,000 tourists, they say the country
could earn an estimated US dollars 340 million.
The officials also said tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka have
shown a steady increase in the recent past despite the country having to
wage a war for nearly 20 years.
According to them there has been an increase of tourists from
South Asia by 28 per cent, East Asia by 11.5 per cent and Western Europe
by 24.2 per cent. The tourist arrivals to date since January this year
stand at 301,998.
Red Cross to the rescue
The Spanish Red Cross (SRC) with the assistance of the Sri
Lanka Red Cross (SLRC) and funded by the European Commission
Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO), Wednesday began distributing
agricultural inputs and implements to the returnees and war affected
communities in the Trincomalee District, sources said.
Forty farmers were issued with seed paddy, vegetable seeds,
axe mammoties, water cans, sickles, GI buckets, knives, sprayers and
fertiliser. About 1325 agricultural families have been selected in the
Trincomalee District under this scheme.
Under this scheme 400 farmers involved in paddy cultivation
and 200 farmers in cash crop cultivation would be supplied with
agricultural inputs and implements, Sri Lanka Red Cross (SLRC) sources
said. The programme concludes on October 11.
to opposition was given affirms Rebahititation Minister
Rehabilitation Minister Dr. Jayalath Jayawardena has said
that the People’s Alliance (PA) was not denied time to reply his
remarks made during his speech at the Ja-Ela
Pradeshiya Sabha last week.
Referring to last week’s article titled “Dr. J J sparks
sabha rumpus,” the Minister has said on the contrary the chairman of
the Pradeshiya Sabha invited the opposition to speak, a right which was
denied by the PA when the UNP was in the opposition.
“I wish to point out that Felix Perera, MP addressed the
Ja-ela Pradeshiya Sabha when the UNP was in the opposition,” he has
stated in his letter to The Sunday Leader.
MPs want debate on participation
The Muslim parliamentarians have asked for a separate debate
in parliament to discuss their participation in future talks with the
Ports Minister and Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) Leader,
Rauf Hakeem made the proposal to the Speaker.
Muslim members of parliament said they have asked the
government to allow a separate delegation of Muslim representatives at
slams CMC Commissioner
The Urban Development Authority (UDA) has accused
Municipal Council (CMC), Dr. Jayantha Liyanage of not complying with the
UDA directives over demolition of unauthorised structures in Colombo.
In a hard hitting letter addressed to the Commissioner,
Director General, UDA, K.V.Dharmasiri has said, he regrets very much to
inform him that he has failed to respond to his letter dated September 15, where
he requested some information regarding premises No. 22, Sir Marcus
Fernando Mawatha Colombo 7.
He has pointed out that when the Commissioner was instructed
to withdraw the permit issued for a certain construction, the
Commissioner had not followed the order.
Earlier The Sunday Leader highlighted the decision
taken by the Commissioner to grant permission to put up a building in
Jampettah Street, Colombo 13, on a request made to him by Public
Utilities Minister, Mohamed Mahroof. The Commis-
sioner’s decision according to CMC officials had been in violation of
the council regulations.
The UDA Director General while reprimanding the Commissioner
for not providing him with information regarding the premises at Sir
Marcus Fernando Mawatha Colombo 7, has also in his letter questioned the
Commissioner over the unauthorised building in Colombo 13.
“This authority has also observed that many unautorised
constructions are coming up on the street and road reservations
violating the development plan of Colombo which the CMC is expected to
follow. For instance at Jampettah Street an unauthorised structure has
come up next to Methodist Church on the road reservation, where CMC has
failed to take any action.
“However we are concerned about the failure of the Council
to take meaningful action against numerous violations and unauthorised
developments within the city. The Municipal Council has also not
co-operated with the UDA in taking action against such unauthorised
“Even the Council
continues to violate the planning and building regulations and I am
afraid that the UDA will be forced to take necessary steps to resolve
this issue to safeguard the public interest,” Dharmasiri has stated in
his letter to the CMC Commissioner.
child abuse case to be taken up for hearing
The Pugoda child abuse case that has dragged on for nearly
three years would be taken up for hearing again on October 14, informed
The Sunday Leader learns that the two victims, a
girl and a boy from the same family and the children’s mother have all
been cross examined. It is learnt that evidence has also been given in
Initially the case was filed at the Pugoda Magistrate’s
court but following objections raised by the organisation Protecting
Environment and Children Everywhere (PEACE) the case was transferred to
the Gampaha High Court.
The Buddhist monk who had allegedly abused the children is at
present serving a sentence at Mahara prison.
PEACE has been looking after the interests of the victims
from the inception of the case. During one of the hearings on August 30,
the defence lawyer had objected to the presence of PEACE
representatives. But presiding Judge Ranjith Silva observed that PEACE
is looking after the interests of the victims and overruled the
objection and said the presence of the representatives was justifiable.
The Sunday Leader learns that a Sub Inspector from
the Pugoda police station is to be cross examined.
to enjoy Lankan delights in Bahrain
Diners can enjoy delicious Sri Lankan treats including
refreshing cups of ginger tea as welcome drinks during a 10-day food
festival opened at Bahrain’s four-star Al Safir Hotel.
A wide range of Lankan delicacies and cuisine have been lined
up for ‘Sri
Sri Lankan Ambassador to Kuwait and Bahrain, Abdul Razak
Mansoor was chief guest at last Wednesday’s inauguration.
Bahrain’s Assistant Under-Secretary, Tourism Affairs,
Mubarak Al Atwi was guest of honour.
“The event focuses on Sri Lanka’s cultural heritage with
a purely traditional atmosphere,” said the Hotel’s Sales and Rooms
Division Manager, Stephen J. Daniel.
Al Safir chefs will present the rich and traditional aroma of
different Sri Lankan delicacies and cuisine to pamper diners.
He said the hotel had flown in popular Sri Lankan singer
Jagath Wickramasinghe to entertain the diners daily during the
Six Sri Lankan chefs led by Jude Jayasekara are lining up 15
dishes of meat, fish and other traditional curries for the buffet, said
Food and Beverage Manager, Richard Paul John.
Paul John, who also hails from Sri Lanka, said 10 -15
varieties of salads and Lankan sweet specialties such as Kevun and
Kokies are also part of the treats.
Diners will have a wide choice of Lankan delights such as
string hoppers, hoppers, kothuroti and Pittu. The buffet
costs 3.5 dinars. (875 rupees) and the promotion runs until October 10.
up call for educators
By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema
With student clashes becoming a common occurrence, the
country’s tertiary education system is now in the process of being
restructured. The main issues that will be addressed in this
restructuring process are minimising violence and the depoliticisation
of student unions in local universities.
The recent clashes that took place at the Sri Jayewardenapura
University and the Colombo University has left many students, parents
and lecturers wondering when the present trend of
violence will come to an end.
The death of Ovitigalavithanage Samantha of the Sri
Jayewardenapura University last year was a wake up call
for authorities, who realised that student clashes in
universities have to be addressed immediately. Unfortunately, even the
death of a student it seems has not stopped some rebellious
undergraduates from resorting to violence at the drop of a hat and the
authorities too seem to be taking things easy.
This time round, two students from the Colombo University
were admitted to the Colombo National Hospital after a clash between
rival student groups in the university’s Law Faculty. According to
some undergraduates, the issue that worries most of them is the
involvement of outside elements in these fisticuffs. It was stated that
during the clashes in the Sri Jayewardenapura and Colombo Universities,
unidentified persons had entered the universities with poles and mannas
to assault students, but had left the premises before the police
arrived. The clash at Sri Jayewardenapura University resulted in the
students assaulting the vice chancellor and the media.
Speaking to The Sunday Leader, Registrar, Colombo
University, S. Sivalingam asserted that everything was back to normal at
the university, adding that the clash was a “minor matter.”
“Classes are going on as usual and everything is under control,” he
said. As for the two injured students, Sivalingam presumed that they
would have now been discharged by the National Hospital. Sivalingam went
on to say that they were unaware of any details surrounding the inquiry
conducted by the police.
As for the involvement of outsiders in the fracas, Sivalingam
stated that he was not aware of such involvement.
An official from the Sri Jayewardenapura University stated
that the science faculty commenced work last week, while, the management
faculty would commence work tomorrow, the 6th. According to him, the
environment at the university is peaceful, so far.
Explaining the recent clashes at the universities, Tertiary
Education Minister, Kabir Hashim stated that one reason for the clashes
are the upcoming student union elections.
He went on to say that the Inter University Students
Federation (IUSF), although not a statutory body, controls most of the
students in universities and since they do not wish to lose the power
they have over undergraduates, they do not allow any opposition group to
raise its head in the university. Another reason for these clashes
according to Hashim is the involvement of certain political elements.
These elements, who come in the form of student unions get students to
agitate over minor issues. Hashim asserted that no ministers have been
perceived to have any involvement in the recent university clashes.
Explaining the clash at Sri Jayewardenapura University,
Hashim stated that the vice chancellor had evicted unauthourised
residents within the university premises after Samantha’s death. Rooms
occupied by unions involved in agitation campaigns have also been taken
over for the use of student welfare societies. According to the
Minister, this too has been a contributory factor to the recent clash at
The clash initially was based on the delay in Mahapola
disbursement by three months. The students are now demanding for
the removal of the university’s vice chancellor.
stated that he has requested the University Grants Commission (UGC) to
immediately inquire into the matter, while the police is also conducting
an independent inquiry. The Minister asserted that there was pressure
from certain political elements to remove the vice chancellor. This,
according to Hashim cannot be done as requested by the students as there
is a procedure to be followed.
As for the involvement of outsiders in clashes at both Sri
Jayewardenapura and Colombo Universities, Hashim stated that while the
security personnel at the universities are not adequately geared to
handle the situation, the police too are reluctant to move in at such
instances. The reason is that in case a police constable manhandles a
student to quell the situation, the students will then protest against
the police department. So far, police have taken six students into
custody in connection with the clashes at Sri Jayewardenapura. The
proceedings of the parliamentary select committee, appointed to look
into the violence in universities and restructuring the whole system, is
expected to conclude in two and a half months.
Speaking of action taken by authorities, Hashim stated that
once the ongoing inquiries end, university authorities will be requested
to take stern action against wrongdoers. In order to ensure that clashes
such as this do not occur in the future, Hashim was of the view that
while certain political elements have to be barred from universities,
the laws of the land too need to be implemented. “University
authorities have been asked to implement rules that govern universities,
which are already laid out,” the Minister said.
When asked why these rules were not implemented earlier,
especially after Samantha’s death, Hashim stated that it is not easy
to implement these rules at once as certain university students wait for
a chance to create an agitation among other undergraduates. As for
whether the authorities are waiting for another death like that of
Samantha to happen before seriously looking into the matter, Hashim
stated that they are doing everything possible to address the present
situation in universities.
According to the Minister, the UGC and university authorities
have forwarded a set of proposals that could minimise the violence in
universities. So far, the Ministry has requested lecturers to move into
hostels with students in order to provide necessary counselling for them
to avoid future clashes. Unfortunately, this too, according to the
Minister is not an effective solution because once students resort to
violence, lecturers are reluctant to get involved.
Hashim reiterated that the question now is whether to
mobilise the police. This, he said is a sensitive issue because students
might dislike being handled by the police. The issue therefore has to be
addressed at the core. “This is all an attitude problem. Student
unions have to be depoliticised,” he said. The Minister explained that
solving the present problems faced by universities cannot be done
overnight and stated that it requires the involvement of students,
parents, lectures and the authorities apart from the government.
When asked whether he would resign since the clashes show no
sign of abating, resulting in the closure of universities for indefinite
periods, Hashim stated that when compared to the period between 1997 and
2001, where over 25 clashes were reported, with several of them serious,
the number of clashes has reduced. He reiterated that the restructuring
process would be a long and arduous path adding that he might not still
be in office to see the final results.
Sporadic acts of violence aimed at certain Christian churches
and churchgoers is continuing to take place. In a recent attack on
churchgoers in the Nawagamuwa area, two boys aged 17 and 22 were
attacked and had to be admitted to hospital with head injuries.
The lady pastor of this church, requesting anonymity, said
that on September 21, this particular church, situated close to
Nawagamuwa was preparing to begin Sunday service “when a Buddhist
priest as well as people from the area came to the church and said that
the service should be stopped.”
“There were about 35 people who came to the church that
Sunday wanting us to stop our worship,” she said.
However, the church did not give in and members of the church
had made a complaint at the
Piliyandala Police on the same day.
Two days later, on September 23, the police summoned the
church members for an
inquiry. The lady pastor said that the police were not very cooperative,
but she claims they told her the next time something happens, they would
protect the church.
Despite this assurance, five days later, on September 28,
when two boys from the church were on their way to a shop near the
junction, it is alleged that members of the temple in the area assaulted
them. The boys have said
they are in a position to identify their assailants. The Piliyandala
police however are yet to make any arrests in regard to this incident.
After being attacked, the boys had according to the pastor,
managed to limp back to the church and the pastor had immediately
telephoned the police. She says however, that the police arrived at the
church one hour later.
“There was no assistance to even take these boys to the
hospital. We put them in a trishaw and took them to the police station,
lodged a complaint and only then took them to the hospital,” she said.
Later, on Monday, September 29, church members were called to
the Piliyandala police for an inquiry. Here too the temple priests, as
well as members of the temple were present. “There were about 150 of
them at the police station
and they insulted us, even in front of the officers and the OIC, but no
action was taken,” said several pastors who spoke to The Sunday
After this inquiry at the Piliyandala police, a church
member’s vehicle was damaged. A stone was thrown at the vehicle
destroying the van’s rear glass.
According to one of the pastors, while at the Piliyandala
police station, the person who allegedly assaulted the boys had tapped
him on the shoulder and threatened him. “This was inside the police
station, but no police officer took any notice, let alone action,”
lamented the pastor.
The pastors said, “We are being accused of carrying out
unethical conversions, but so far, nobody has been able to prove
this.” The pastors say that no action has been taken to bring this
problem under control. “Although the OIC at Mount Lavinia is very
cooperative, the general response is not good,” added a pastor.
Letters have been sent to President Chandrika Kumaratunga,
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Christian Affairs Minister, John
Amaratunga, Defence Minister Thilak Marapona and a host of senior police
officials, but with no positive response.
Meanwhile, Secretary, All Ceylon Women Buddhist Congress,
Indrani Devendra maintained that in certain instances, there had been
provocation from church members, which is what led to some of the
She said she strongly believes these churches are sustained
as a result of foreign aid. However, the pastors deny they have foreign