moves in the politics of Eelam
what appears to be a very puzzling development, eight
high-ranking leaders of the pro-Indian Tamil militant group
Eelam National Democratic Liberation Front (ENDLF) including
its Leader, Gnanapiragasam Gnanasegeram alias Paranthan Rajan
have been arrested and detained in India since December 5.
is perplexing about the incident is the fact that Paranthan
Rajan and other ENDLF members have been living since 1990 in
India without any problem as the group - originally created by
the Indian intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing
(RAW) - is regarded as being totally subservient to New Delhi.
explanations and assessments are currently circulating among
knowledgeable circles in India about the reasons behind these
developments though the media has virtually blacked out the story so
far in India. The view currently gaining ground is that the ENDLF's
recent tie up with former Tiger Eastern Commander, Vinayagamoorthy
Muraleetharan alias Karuna is the primary factor in this confusing
was also pointed out the arrests were carried out by the Tamil Nadu
State Police acting under the orders of Chief Minister, Jayalalitha
Jayaram and not by any central government agency. The arrested ENDLF
men are housed at a special camp in Chengalpattu in what is termed
as protective custody.
to ENDLF sources, the intelligence division of the state police
known as 'Q' branch had swooped down on the ENDLF office at
Kodambakkam in the Tamil Nadu capital of Chennai on December 5 and
arrested five top ENDLF leaderswho were staying there.
the 'Q' cops had raided Gnanasegeram alias Paranthan Rajan's house
at Valasaravaakkam and arrested the ENDLF Leader and his three
bodyguard aides. The police also went in search of Paranthan Rajan's
brother Gnanarajah but he was not in his house at KK Nagar. He
remains a free man still.
eight were first taken to the police headquarters
where Director General, Police, Alexander, the newly
appointed head of Tamil Nadu 'Q' branch "interviewed"
them. They were informed that an assassination squad from the
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was now in India to bump off
Paranthan Rajan and other important ENDLF leaders. They were being
given special protection, the ENDLF was informed. The policemen also
wanted them to answer some questions regarding future plans of the
Rajan had protested vehemently and said neither his men nor he
needed special protection. In any event, arresting them
unceremoniously and hauling them off to the police station was not
the correct procedure to provide protection. The ENDLF Chief and his
men refused to answer any questions unless they were released. They
also wanted to know under what right they were being detained and
wanted to be released immediately . If not, they demanded a lawyer.
the mood turning sour, all the Sri Lankan Tamils were put in a van
and taken to Kanchipuram in the district adjacent to Chennai. They
were informed that none of them had valid documents to stay in India
as their visas had expired. They were all foreigners
"overstaying" beyond the legally permissible period they
were entitled to, it was charged.
it was stated they were all being charged under the Indian
Foreigners Act .The Indian Foreigners Act is a draconian piece of
law under which a foreigner could be detained without recourse to
bail for up to one year. Among those Sri Lankans detained under this
law have been eminent educationist R.R. Sivalingam, Journalist S.
Sivanatagam and EROS Leader, Shankar Raji.
Rajan according to ENDLF sources had remonstrated saying all of them
had valid documents with duly renewed visas. Paranthan Rajan wanted
the police to contact certain officials in the RAW who would vouch
cops however refused and whisked them off first to the Chengalpattu
sub jail. Two days later they were taken to the special camp housing
Sri Lankan refugees at Chengalpattu. The eight ENDLFers were housed
in a separate, well guarded house within camp premises. They were
told they were being placed under special protective custody.
being held incommunicado for a few days, the Tamil Nadu Police began
relaxing restrictions gradually. A notable change was that family
members were allowed to visit them for all hours of the day without
restrictions. Moreover the police madetransport arrangements for the
families to visit. They were allowed to bring in outside food and
also cook at the place of detention. While there is friendly
conversation between the ENDLF and their custodians, Paranthan Rajan
has consistently refused to be questioned.
reason for the relaxation
of some rules could have been the arrival in India of ENDLF Leader,
Veeraiya Ramaraj alias Mustapha from Britain. Ramaraj, who runs the
Tamil Broadcasting Corporation Radio in London, was at one time the
ENDLF general secretary. He is now a central committee member and
virtually directs overseas operations of the ENDLF.
is said to enjoy a close rapport with RAW and influential Indian
politicians. He has been staying for weeks in India trying to
contact leaders at central and state level to get the ENDLF men out.
far as the central government and intelligence officials were
concerned, they denied they were in any way responsible for the
ENDLF predicament. The arrest and protective custody was done by the
state police at the behest of the Chief Minister herself. Even the
state level action had a "noble" motive it was asserted.
The ENDLF men were being held for their own good as a Tiger squad
was in India to bump them off it was said.
linking up with Karuna, the ENDLF had complicated matters and
endangered itself. Besides the state government did not want any
"Eelam Tamil violence" to occur on Tamil Nadu soil. While
the ENDLF would be given protection, they should not promote or
provoke violence on Indian soil.
origins of the ENDLF are quite interesting. Paranthan Rajan was
initially in the PLOTE and underwent training in Lebanon. He was
tipped to be PLOTE military commander but the Supreme Leader,
Umamaheswaran preferred Jotheeswaran alias Kannan. Later a
disgruntled Rajanleft the PLOTE with his loyalists. This group,
along with splinter factions of the TELO and EPRLF, formed a motley
group known as Three Stars. The three stars denoted the three
original groups from which the dissidents broke off.
the PLOTE fragmented further with a faction under Eeswaran also
breaking off. The EPRLF too split in two with one faction under
Padmanabha and the other under Douglas Devananda. The RAW in 1987
got the three stars and the Douglas and Eeswaran factions to form a
single outfit known as the ENDLF.
the Indo-Lanka Accord, Douglas split with Paranthan Rajan and formed
his own Eelam People's Democratic Party (EPDP). The ENDLF came under
Paranthan Rajan's sole control.
alias Thangarajan alias Rajanhailed from Neduntheevu but was
resident for long at Paranthan thereby earning the name Paranthan
Rajan. He was originally a TULF Youth Wing member and had been
jailed without trial for many months. Later he joined the LTTE and
then left with Umamaheswaran to form the PLOTE.
underwent training in the Middle East but was arrested after a shoot
out at Periyathambanai. He survived the Welikade massacre of 1983
and then escaped during the Batticaloa jail break. After splitting
from the PLOTE he went on to lead the ENDLF.
ENDLF faithfully followed Indian guidance and participated at the
1988 North East Provincial Council elections. An ENDLF nominee,
Ganeshalingam became a provincial minister. Packiyanathan Rajaratnam
alias Mano master succeeded Ganeshalingam when the latter was
assassinated by the LTTE. After the Indian army quit
Sri Lanka in 1990, the ENDLF too followed suit and went over.
ENDLF cadre took up residence in Orissa, and various parts of Tamil
Nadu and also Bangalore in Karnataka.
Rajan himself went to Bangalore and started an orphanage cum school
there. It was named Mother Indira Gandhi International Academy and
is officially sanctioned in Karnataka. Rajiv Gandhi himself
ceremonially opened it. It has about 300 students of whom around 50
are orphans. Almost everybody is of Sri Lankan Tamil origin. Though
it has received Karnataka and Tamil Nadu assistance, the major part
of finances are from Tamil expatriate donations.
ENDLF had one MP - Srinivasagam in the 1989-1994 parliament.
Thereafter it became virtually dormant in Sri Lanka. The ENDLF
maintained a very low key political presence in India. In 1996, two
ENDLF stalwarts Mano Master and Mustapha went to Kilinochchi and
offered to link up with the LTTE. The Tigers suspected a RAW hand
behind the move and rejected it. Gradually the ENDLF established
offices in Chennai too but maintained a low profile.
ENDLF hit the headlines again after the Karuna rebellion in the LTTE.
The ENDLF established contact with the beleaguered Karuna and
offered assistance. A desperate Karuna grasped it as a drowning man
would clutch a straw. Soon a political party was announced with
Karuna as president and Gnanarajah as secretary. The latter was
Rajan's elder brother. Then a joint front comprising Karuna's party
and ENDLF was formed. The joint leaders were Karuna and Rajan. The
secretary was Gnanarajah and coordinator, Mano Master.
ENDLF became very active and visible. When Mano Master sent a letter
to Norway, the Kodambakkam address was used openly. Much publicity
was also given to a lobbying mission by the ENDLF in New Delhi. The
ENDLF sought Indian support and pledged to raise 3,500 cadres to
fight the Tigers, of which 500 were ENDLF cadres while the rest were
supposedly Karuna's boys.
Master, who played an important part in interacting with Indian
officials, then went over to Colombo to do political work. He
disappeared amid mysterious circumstances and all available evidence
suggests that Mano is currently in the hands of the LTTE.
ENDLF, now engaged in a strategic partnership with Karuna, went
bonkers in the last week of November. A parallel great heroes show
by Karuna was enacted. Karuna read an address to the people in a
studio that was videoed. A puerile attempt was made to portray that
Karuna was addressing his people in Batticaloa whereas most people
knew the whole exercise was a fake. Karuna's speech was distributed
worldwide via the anti-Tiger media.
Tamil Nadu, the ENDLF made 150 video cassettes and printed 30
thousand copies of Karuna's speech. Derogatory posters of LTTE
Leader, Velupillai Pirapaharandepicting him as a modern Hitler also
appeared on the walls in Tamil Nadu urban areas where Sri Lankan
Tamils resided in sufficient numbers.
cassettes and leaflets were distributed widely including Sri Lankan
Tamil refugee camps. These activities caused much tension as people
sympathetic towards the LTTE resented this action and protested.
This apparently led to loud arguments and even fisticuffs in some
ENDLF had been foolishly provocative to the extent of distributing
the Karuna leaflets at a MDMK rally addressed by Gopalaswamy or
Vaiko. It is well known that Vaiko and his party are Tiger
supporters. The ENDLF action had led to much friction between Tamil
Nadu supporters of Vaiko and the followers of Rajan.
next twist was when three Sri Lankan Tamil youths were detained on
suspicion in Tamil Nadu. They claimed to be Karuna loyalists and
said they were going to join up with Paranthan Rajan. Indian
officials felt something was wrong and interrogated them further.
Suspicion was reinforced the trio was actually a Tiger hit squad to
eliminate Paranthan Rajan and other ENDLF top men.
was also felt that most details of ENDLF movements in Tamil Nadu
would be revealed by Mano Master to the Tigers when Pottu Amman's
minions tortured the ENDLF secretary. This sent alarm bells ringing.
to a well-informed Indian journalist, there were enough reasons for
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Jayalalitha and the police to be
concerned. The people of Tamil Nadu were sick of Eelam Tamil
militants and related violence on their soil after the brutal murder
of Rajiv Gandhi and 18 others in Sriperumbhudoor in 1991.
did not want any intra-Tamil violence to spill over as in the case
of EPRLF leaders like Pathmanabha, Yogasangaree and Kirubaharan
being killed by the Tigers in Chennai in 1990. It is felt in some
circles that the laxity shown by then Chief Minister, Muttuvel
Karunanidhi over Padmanabha's killing paved the way for Rajiv's
killing later. Jayalalitha has made much political capital of this.
if violence occurred again on Tamil Nadu soil and the ENDLF men were
gunned down by the LTTE, it would reflect badly on Jayalalitha's
government. Further, the Tamil Nadu Police basking in the glory of
having killed Veerappan would lose prestige.
arch rival, Karunanidh's DMK was now part of the central government.
She fears he is looking for an excuse to get her government
dismissed. Law and order is a subject under state government. So if
intra-Tamil militant violence flares up, Karunanidhi could press for
dismissal of government and dissolution of the state assembly on
those grounds. It was imperative that Paranthan Rajan be protected.
this concern is understandable, the question that arises is why
Rajan and others who were placed under house arrest should be
protected. Also, why the tough and high handed manner of arrest? It
is no secret that Jayalalitha is no fan of Sri Lankan Tamils in the
state let alone militants. They are looked down upon as
Jayalalitha had a free hand she would not have allowed the ENDLF to
remain on Tamil Nadu soil. Since the ENDLF is sponsored by the RAW
as part of a grand design she could not do so. Nevertheless, she
seems to have exercised her prerogative and detained the ENDLF
could be due to another reason. Even the RAW must be appalled at the
ENDLF blunder of flaunting their links with Karuna. The connection
was one that should have been played down till an opportune time.
The ENDLF's provocative action of inciting friction in Tamil Nadu
with pro-Tiger elements was unwelcome even to the central
India does not want to encourage Sri Lankan Tamil militant activity
on Indian soil in any way. Affording protection was one thing for
the political refugees but doing open politics was intolerable. So
it may well be that the central agencies too approved of state
action in detaining Rajan and Co. With this move pro-Karuna ENDLF
activity too has ceased in Tamil Nadu.
is also the Karuna factor. Indian intelligence may be interested in
protecting Karuna from the LTTE's wrath at present and keep him safe
for future use if and when necessary. It is doubtful that India
would like to draw attention to this and give credence to charges of
New Delhi harbouring Karuna. The ENDLF's unnecessary pro-Karuna
campaign in Tamil Nadu places India in an unfavourable light.
even if India shelters Karuna, it would not like large numbers of
pro-Karuna Tigers to arrive in Tamil Nadu. Furthermore, given the
comparative ease with which LTTE intelligence seems to impersonate,
infiltrate or convert Karuna's followers, there is much potential
danger in allowing cadres to come over. Restricting the ENDLF scope
for action could in turn help check this phenomenon.
could be assumed therefore that the Tamil Nadu Police action has the
sanction of both the centre and state though law and order is under
the Tamil Nadu government. The ENDLF seems to have brought this upon
itself by the unnecessary publicity it sought to gain and due to its
ill advised provocative stance.
stems from gravely miscalculating the parameters of Indian support
to it as well as misjudging India's current policies. The ENDLF
hierarchy has breached norms of acceptable political etiquette in
India. It is now beginning to pay the price. Penance is required for
spend Christmas in fear
islandwide are once again forced to celebrate the Christmas season
in fear following attacks on churches.
latest of these attacks occurred in Katuwana, Homagama last Sunday
where a Catholic church was burnt to the ground. Last Sunday's
attack follows a similar attack on the same church which occurred
December, churches were facing severe threats after some groups led
by Buddhist monks charged that Buddhists were being converted and
started a hate campaign that also led to several churches coming
under attack. A number of Christian churches were burnt while
pastors were assaulted. Buddhist monks even walked into Christian
organisations and abused and harassed Christian employees.
around the country were compelled to celebrate the birth of Christ
under tight security.
from the church in Katuwana, a number of other churches were also
attacked or threatened forcing worshipers to skip Christmas and New
Year services. The series of attacks on churches in particular and
Christians in general culminated in Buddhist groups demanding for an
Anti Conversion Bill to be passed in parliament.
Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) lobbied for the bill to be passed in
parliament. The issue was even brought up by JHU MP, Ven. Athuraliye
Rathana Thero during the Shah Rukh Khan protest at Town Hall on
December 11. The Thero while attempting to calm the rampaging
protesters said that the JHU will keep pushing for the bill to be
passed in parliament.
the attacks on the Churches have now raised doubts whether the
United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) government has the ability
to put an end to this. Christian Affairs Minister, Milroy Fernando
condemning the attack on the church in Katuwana said that certain
destructive elements are attempting to create chaos in the south at
a time there is a crisis in the north. He noted that the main goal
of these elements is to tarnish the image of the government. What
needs to be taken into consideration is that these so called
"destructive elements" have not been identified or named
by the government.
the Minister who visited the site of the pre dawn attack in Katuwana
last Sunday said that he had discussed the repercussions of the
attack with President Chandrika Kumratunga. Minister Fernando said
that President Kumaratunga has decided to use government funds to
rebuild the Katuwana church and called on the Catholics of this
country to remain calm.
the scars caused by the attack and the fear in the minds of
Christians in Sri Lanka will not be easily rebuilt.
the police is providing tight security for Christian churches around
the island following the attack on the Catholic church in Katuwana
last Sunday. Inspector General of Police (IGP) Chandra Fernando told
The Sunday Leader that the police are not taking any chances with
the security considering the attacks on churches that took place
during the Christmas and New Year season last year. He says the
police will be deployed mainly to churches in isolated areas in
Nugegoda, Homagama, Anuradhapura, Chilaw and Wennapuwa where a few
came under attack last year. However, the IGP noted that to his
knowledge there has not been a request from any church for special
security during the season.
mobile units have been deployed to roam the streets and keep an eye
on the other churches in populated areas.
Bishop of Colombo, Rev Duleep Chickera speaking to The Sunday Leader
condemned the attack on the church in Katuwana and the sporadic
attacks on a few other places of Christian worship in Wadduwa,
Mattugama and elsewhere that took place over the last few months.
Chickera called on the authorities to inquire fully into the attacks
and bring the perpetrators to justice and establish law and order
and social trust. The Bishop noted that he was confident that the
vast majority of people of all faiths in Sri Lanka want a peaceful
environment where everyone can worship and practice the religion of
his or her choice freely and without intimidation from any source.
He appealed to all Christians to remain calm and affirmative.
National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka has also
condemned the attack on the Catholic church in Katuwana.
is with sadness that we note this metamorphosis of this nation to a
society marked by intolerance; where human life and dignity are not
valued, and there is scant respect for the rights of others"
said the Evangelical Alliance in a press release. The Evangelical
Alliance noted that differences between individuals and in society
are dealt with extreme reactions like murder, arson, assault,
suicide and death fasts; which are destructive and violent towards
others and to self.
said there is a systematic attempt to breed religious tensions and
incite religious hatred particularly during the Christmas season
reminiscent of last December. The Alliance said it strongly condemns
and deplores the violent attacks or intimidation of Christian
citizens of this country.
Evangelical Alliance said such acts would only serve to further
de-fragment the society along religious lines while the nation still
heals the wounds created by the ethnic conflict. The National
Christian Evangelical Alliance called upon the government, political
parties and individuals in Sri Lanka to work towards fostering a
nation where human life is valued irrespective of ethnic or
is indeed sad to note that at a time when Christians around the
world are celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ who is seen as an
icon for peace that the word "PEACE" itself should be
tarnished by individuals who prefer to practice hatred and violence.
the line of fire
2003, 39 churches were attacked in and around the city.
were 91 recorded incidents of arson, demolition and
desecration of churches, physical attacks, threats, forced
closure of churches and intimidation against Christians or
threats that forced churches to close.
2004, 78 similar incidents have taken place.
disease still a mystery
Embilipitiya Base Hospital, Security guards and attendants wearing
protective masks at the entrance to the hospital, A suspected virus
case in the children's ward at the hospital and A salesman in the
Embilipitiya town wears a hanky to protect himself from the virus
Risidra Mendis In Embilipitiya
unidentified virus that has caused eight deaths up to now in the
Southern Province, though identified as Influenza B is yet under
investigation. Even though post-mortems have been conducted on the
deceased, there is no evidence to say these people died of Influenza
present there are five positive cases while another 50 people are
suspected of having contracted the virus as reported by the
Epidemiological Unit (EU). The EU has now issued a set of guidelines
that should be followed by the Embilipitiya, Matara and Matale
to The Sunday Leader, Dr. Sinha Wickremesekera of the EU said the
post-mortems conducted on the deceased state death was due to
pneumonia. "Pneumonia can be caused due to a bacteria or a
virus. We think this could be a viral pneumonia due to the absence
of pus in the lung tissue. However, we can definitely say that this
virus spreads from the respiratory tract," explained Dr.
December 10 when the death of a 44-year-old male patient was
reported from the Embilipitiya Base Hospital, the doctors had no
reason to suspect that this patient could be the start of an
epidemic that would create panic and chaos among people in the
death of a second patient, a 16 year old male, on December 12 from
Beliatta (died in Matara) and the death of a third patient, a 19
year old male, at Beliatta was still no cause for concern. Patients
reporting to these hospitals with similar symptoms as that of the
deceased were treated without being isolated.
when the fourth patient, a 46 year old male, from Embilipitiya died
on December 14 doctors attending to the patient had found out that
the dead man was a cousin of the first patient who died.
to Dr. Wickremesekera, the physician made a note of the two cases
and called the Matara hospital. "The physician at the Matara
hospital had confirmed that there were two deaths at Beliatta. When
the physicians compared the symptoms of the dead persons it was
revealed that the deceased had the same or similar symptoms before
they died," says Dr. Wickremesekera.
Dr. Wickremesekera said it was only on December 14 that the
Embilipitiya hospital staff notified them of this mysterious
to the death of the first case at the Embilipitiya hospital,
instructions were issued by the EU to shut down the Intensive Care
Unit (ICU) until further notice. The ICU that was shut down on
December 15 is yet to be opened. "We are waiting for
instructions from the EU as to when we can reopen the ICU. At
present serious operations such as snake bite victims, patients with
poison in their systems and heart patients cannot be operated. If
the ICU was open we would be conducting at least 10 to 12 operations
per day," hospital officials said.
December 16, Dr. Nihal Abeysinghe met with the hospital staff at
Embilipitiya. On December 17, Deputy Director General, Public Health
Services, Dr. Manil Fernando and Dr. Hasitha Tissera went to
Embilipitiya to meet with the Embilipitiya hospital staff.
EU then sent two virologists on December 18 to Embiliptiya to take
blood samples from the suspected cases. According to the test
results received on December 19, three blood samples tested positive
for Influenza B," explained Dr. Wickremesekera.
to Dr. Wickremesekera, at this stage the EU could not issue any
guidelines to the Embilipitiya hospital staff as they had still not
identified the virus.
officials from the Embilipitiya Action Committee Members (EACM) said
they knew this was a type of virus similar to the common flu.
Patients had symptoms of constant coughing, a slight fever, body
aches and pains and difficulty in breathing. "Since the EU was
silent we decided to take our own precautionary measures to prevent
the virus from rapidly spreading to others. The Public Health
Inspectors (PHI) are working round the clock to make a note of all
the suspected cases in the area. The PHIs are not given masks. But
when the EU team came to conduct their research they had masks,
gloves and aprons. We are trying to prevent this virus from
spreading to the best of our ability. But we are not getting any
help from the EU," the EACM said.
staff that were in constant contact with suspected virus cases
started wearing masks and gloves to protect themselves. "We
only knew that this virus can spread through the air," says the
while the EU were conducting further tests to determine the cause of
the virus, people continued to die from the same symptoms as
fifth case was a 17 year old female from Tissamaharama, the sixth
case a 26 year old male from Rakwana, the seventh case a 24 year old
female from Pallebedda and the eighth a three year old child who
died at the Embilipitiya hospital.
to EACM members, the EU visited the hospital only when the first
suspected cases were reported. "The EU officials should have
been visiting us on a regular basis to take blood samples. They
tested eight suspected cases and found two to be Influenza B
positive. From these two cases the EU has come to the conclusion
that this virus is Influenza B. Influenza B is not a serious virus.
If so many people are dying the EU should act fast and try to
prevent these deaths," say the EACM.
sources say due to suspected virus cases being treated at the
Embiliptiya hospital other patients are not coming there. "If
the suspected cases are tested positive we immediately send them to
the Infectious Diseases Hospital (IDH) in Colombo, since we don't
have the proper facilities to treat patients here. Once the patients
are sent to the IDH we don't get any news on their condition from
the EU," says the EACM.
on the allegations made against the EU, Dr. Wickremesekera said it
is true that a team from the EU visited the hospital only once at
the initial stages. It is not practical for the EU team to keep
visiting the hospital on a regular basis. "The virologist
trained five officials at the Embilipitiya hospital on how they
should take the blood samples from suspected cases," Dr.
to Dr. Wickremesekera, all blood samples that tested negative are
being tested by the EU for other diseases.
officials have further criticised the EU by accusing them of not
communicating with them on the present situation of the virus.
"Instead of keeping us informed they give the media all the
details. We have to go through the papers to find out what is
happening," they charged. Dr. Wickremesekera however denies
these allegations. "If the media asks me for details on the
virus I have to give it to them. Sometimes before news of the virus
is conveyed to the hospital the media contacts us. This situation
cannot be prevented," added Dr. Wickremesekera.
common symptoms for contracting Influenza B as identified by the EU
include cough, difficulty in breathing, coughing up blood and
general body aches and pains. The incubation period for the virus as
indicated by the EU is one to three days, with a maximum of five
to Dr. Wickremesekera, the best way to prevent this disease from
spreading rapidly is to avoid areas where a large number of people
congregate. "Closed up areas with less ventilation are the
places you should avoid," explained Dr. Wickremesekera.
to the fear of the virus spreading in the Southern Province,
hospital staff and people of the area have taken precautionary
measures by wearing masks. This has resulted in a severe
shortage of masks at the hospital and the pharmacies close by.
According to Embilipitiya hospital sources the required amount
of masks are not being sent from Colombo. "We are making
numerous requests since some members of our staff are still
risking their lives by working at the hospital without masks.
But we have no choice but to manage in the best way we
can," the hospital staff said.
Dr. Wickremesekera said in order to prevent contracting the
virus you must use a N95 mask. "The next best option is
to use a surgical mask with a few extra layers. So far doctors
and hospital staff who are closely attending to suspected
cases have not contracted the virus," Dr. Wickremesekera
cuts line on DM
usual cabinet meeting set for Wednesday was advanced to Tuesday as
President Chandrika Kumaratunga was to leave for the UK on a private
visit. Nevertheless she turned up at the meeting late.
were close to 90 proposals on the table. One of them was by
Telecommunications Minister, D. M. Jayaratne on the sale of shares
of Sri Lanka Telecom to a Chinese bidder. The cabinet paper was
marked 'urgent' and Jayaratne sought immediate ratification. The
proposal was to sell all the remaining shares to the Chinese bidder.
opposition to the proposal came from Agriculture Minister, Anura
Dissanayake who claimed that given the size of the deal it lacked
any transparency. He said no one company should be given that amount
retorted that there was no underhand deal, that the bid was the
highest and since the sale was to generate a huge amount of foreign
exchange it had to be dealt with without any delay.
replied that the sale would violate government policy on
privatisation and cannot be given the ok. An angry Jayaratne
retorted, "Do you have transparency? When questions were raised
about the 1000 tanks project, there were no answers," he said.
Minister Mahinda Rajapakse intervened and suggested that the
proposal should be taken up when Kumaratunga was present. The
President walked in when almost 70 proposals had been ratified. She
wished everyone a Happy Christmas and New Year and served cake. She
said that her children had requested her to spend Christmas with
them. She said that any questions could be referred to her through
her secretary. The next cabinet meeting for the new year is set for
Envoy, Erik Solheim brought back some alarming news from his talks
in Kilinochchi with the LTTE leadership. The usual meetings between
the President and Solheim last about one hour but the last meeting
went for almost two and a half hours.
conveyed that S. P. Tamilselvan had said that even if the LTTE were
to recommence talks, it would be fruitless without a proper reaction
LTTE had said that only the President's word on talks was not enough
and that the Tigers would only come back to the table if the
government as a whole including the JVP states it position clearly
stating that the Tiger proposals would be respected.
replied that according to the constitution she was the head of state
and as such the LTTE should take her view as the position of the
government. Solheim had to interject that the Tigers were not
playing ball on those rules. He pointed out that the LTTE harboured
doubts that the JVP would remain silent but pull out of the
government when the ISGA is implemented. At such a juncture, the
people of the north east would lose faith in the Tigers.
said that she felt that the LTTE was not keen on resuming talks and
that it was playing politics like the rest of the parties. She asked
Solheim whether he could not realise that she was being pushed
against the wall by the LTTE. A shaken Solheim said that his role
was that of a facilitator taking messages back and forth.
President said that she unlike the JVP was not going to lay the
whole blame on the Norwegians and that she was willing to face the
challenge posed by the LTTE. She elaborated that the JVP had matured
as a party and that there were two groups within the party on the
ISGA, one for talks based on it and the other opposing it. She said
that this was a good sign for the future.
also said that the LTTE leadership had indicated two possibilities.
If the JVP is reluctant to recommence talks on the ISGA, then the
support of the main opposition UNP should be sought and talks
recommenced. He said that the LTTE believes that the choice lay with
reply was that since the JVP helped to form the government she would
first talk with the Marxists. When Solheim sought guarantees on the
success of such an endeavour, Kumaratunga said that as head of
cabinet she can control the four JVP ministers and up to now she had
not said anything critical of the four.
again she pointed out that the JVP was now split in the middle on
the ISGA. She requested a month's time to talk to the JVP.
Kumaratunga pointed out that as of late the JVPers had limited their
criticism of the ISGA on the National Patriotic Front platforms. She
appeared self assured that she could recommence talks with the
support of the JVP.
requested that Solheim brief the Indians and Anton Balasingham and
if he could wait for a few days more she could convey some special
news. Solheim due to depart on Thursday, delayed it till Saturday.
On Friday Solheim was handed over the paper stating the government's
position on recommencement of talksunder signature of the Director
General, Government Peace Secretariat, Jayantha Dhanapala.
clarion call to Dilan
days after she met Norwegian Special Envoy, Erik Solheim, President
Chandrika Kumaratunga invited Deputy Minister and Convener, Deputy
Ministers' Forum, Dilan Perera to President's House for a discussion
on the ISGA.
said that the deputy ministers should take the lead in briefing the
voters on the ISGA. The SLFP was agreeable to discuss the ISGA and
that once she negotiates with the JVP and gets them amenable towards
the ISGA, talks will resume, she said. She told Perera that she
would be holding talks with the JVP once she returns from her
financial assistance to launch a publicity effort on the party's
stand was in place and Kumaratunga added that the campaign should be
launched without delay.
bats for SB
UNP was a hive of activity last week preparing the battle ground for
the campaign to get S. B Dissanayake released.
former Cricket Board Chairman, Thilanga Sumathipala too had offered
his services and had in fact spoken to the businessman in the middle
of the controversy, Prabath Nanayakkara about the issue.
who persuaded Dissanayake to drop his legal defence while allegedly
acting as emissary of the Chief Justice had been told by Sumathipala
to do everything in his power to secure the release of Dissanayake.
Nanayakkara himself had spoken about Thilanga's concern with UNP
had even spoken with Prisons Commissioner, Rumy Marzook days earlier
and inquired whether he could visit Dissanayake in prison.
supportive was President's Counsel, Gamini Marapone, the brother of
former Defence Minister, Thilak Marapone. Gamini Marapone also
happens to be Sumathipala's legal counsel in the ongoing trial at
the Colombo Magistrate's Court.
had last week telephoned UNP MP Gamini Lokuge and suggested that the
UNP have a select committee appointed to go into the Dissanayake
issue. Marapone had said that the SLFP had adopted a similar
strategy when Sirimavo Bandaranaike's civic rights issue came up.
the time Marapone's telephone call came, Lokuge was at the Mayor's
Centre with fellow MPs Karu Jayasuriya, Rajitha Senaratne, Ravi
Karunanayake, Mahinda Wijeysekera and Bodhi Ranasinghe. Lokuge was
to tell the other members present of the suggestions made by
Marapone, and it was decided to discuss the issue with Party Leader,
the meantime Nanayakkara has been doing the rounds pleading his
innocence claiming that he was a bona-fide emissary of the Chief
Justice and should not be singled out for attack. Meeting with
Senaratne the wheeler-dealer businessman had related the whole saga
of his involvement including several alleged discussions he had with
the Chief Justice on the Dissanayake case.
had said that it was through UNP MP Susantha Punchinilame that he
had approached Dissanayake and started negotiating with the Chief
Justice. It has been further revealed that Speaker W. J. M.
Lokubandara had also told Dissanayake to trust Nanayakkara.
is to now swear an affidavit setting out the details alleged by
Nanayakkara and annex it to the complaint to be made to the police
and the Supreme Court by a family member of Dissanayake.