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National Vesak festival to commence today

May 17 (NR) The national Vesak festival is set to be marked at the Thotagamuwa Ranpath Rajamaha Viharaya, Thelwatte, Hikkaduwa today and tomorrow. The event organised under the auspices of the Mahanayaka Thera is scheduled to commence at two this afternoon. President Maithripala Sirisena and PM Ranil Wickremesinghe are also due to attend the event. Measures were taken to restrict the National Vesak festival that was initially scheduled to be in place for an entire week, more..

Number of Vesak dansals hits record low

May 17 (DM) For the very first time in history, the number of dansals during Vesak will be limited to 92. Although some 6,000 dansals were registered last year, the number stands at 92 this year according to the Association of Public Health Inspectors. In the Colombo city alone, there were 150 dansals last year, but this time it is limited to four. Secretary to PHI Association Mahendra Balasuriya said there was also a notable decline in Vesak zones, pandals and religious rituals like observance of Sil. more..

Not raided, employee taken into custody at an undisclosed location: Virtusa

May 17 (DM) With reference to recent news reports, Virtusa Ltd. made a clarification and said its facility was not raided but a single employee was taken into custody while at an undisclosed location. “It was reported that our office was raided. This is not accurate. We invited the police to conduct a sweep of our facilities, just as other local businesses have recently done as part of routine activities. It was also reported that one of the suspects was an intern at our company dating back to 2013. more..

Sri Lanka mulls 25% ownership limit in finance companies

May 17 (EN) Central bank will be introducing a 25 percent ownership limit in licensed finance companies (LFCs) following stakeholder consultations on the plan. "The master plan is intended to bring down the ownership limits to 25% within a timeframe of 5 years," Dept of Non-Bank Financial Institutions Director W Ranaweera said. Under special circumstances, ownership limits can be increased to 30%. Planned sanctions for non-compliance will include suspension of more..

Police seize 21 bags of Amonia Nitrate

May 17 (DM) Twenty-one bags of Ammonia Nitrate which had been hidden inside a cage at the Asgiriya Police kennel unit was seized yesterday by the Kandy police. During investigations, the police were informed that the ammonia nitrate was used as coconut fertilizer. However, a senior military official said it was one of the chemicals used in the manufacture of explosives. Police had seized the stock of chemicals on information received by two senior police officials of the Kandy police headquarters. more..

Businessman with alleged NTJ links arrested

May 17 (Island) Police investigations have revealed that millionaire businessman and Mabole resident arrested for his alleged links to the proscribed Islamic extremist terrorist outfit National Thowheed Jamaath (NTJ) is the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) organiser for Wattala. It was also revealed that the suspect Mohamed Rizwan maintained close links with drug lord Makandure Madush now in custody while the latter was hiding in Dubai. The police believe that Rizwan was an accomplice of Madush. more..

Govt pulls advertising from Hiru, Derana

May 17 (EN) SL's state institutions are halting advertisements private television channels, Minister Mangala Samaraweera has said, alleging that they were contributing to communal disharmony. "Any media institutions trying to make a business out of racism and human blood will be strongly opposed," he said. Samaraweera was speaking to chairpersons of state banks at the finance ministry, video of which he uploaded more..

German Ambassador calls on Opposition Leader

May 17 (AD) Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa has briefed German Ambassador to SL Jörn Rohde on the current situation of the country. The duo has held a discussion at the Office of the Opposition Leader last evening. The German Ambassador has emphasized that the situation in the country should be restored forthwith. The govt has been informed in this regard and the Opposition has offered to extend maximum support to ensure the security of the country, Opposition Leader told ambassador. more..

Court allows to detain two suspects linked to Zahran for 72 hours

May 17 (AD) Kebithigollewa Magistrate’s Court today granted permission for police to detain for 72 hours and question the two suspects arrested in Horowpathana over their alleged links to terrorist leader Zaharan Hashim.Noor Mohammadu Abdul Rasool and Kana Mohamed Mijam, identified as a Principal and an Acting Principal of two Muslim schools in the area, were arrested last night by the STF at Paththewa, Horowpathana. They are believed to have maintained close links with more..

MPs to urge govt to bring in series of legislation

May 17 (DM) A group of MPs, from both the govt and the opposition, are planning to urge the govt to introduce a series of legislation to de-radicalize Muslims holding extremist views, regulation of Madrasas and the amendment of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) to deal with the current situation. Minister Champika Ranawaka told a function in Suriyawewa, Hambantota yesterday that the PTA should be amended to broaden more..

Distressed yacht towed to safety by Navy

May 17 (SLN) Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) helped rescue a foreign yacht in distress off the shores of Rumassala, Galle yesterday (15). Upon receipt of a distress signal, the Navy promptly dispatched two naval craft to bring ashore a foreign yacht named Mango One that was in distress off the shores of Rumassala, following an engine failure. Accordingly, the SLN safely escorted the yacht and its passengers who are en route to Thailand, via Sri Lankan waters. more..

'Expo Dubai 2020 to help in achieving Sri Lanka's Vision 2025'

May 17 (Island) Transforming Sri Lanka into the hub of the Indian Ocean, with a knowledge-based, highly competitive and social-market economy is the objective of the Vision 2025 policy document of the govt. Making the transition to a export, FDI and tourism oriented country is the only option for Sri Lanka to create better jobs for the youth of our country and to graduate to a higher income economy. Expo Dubai 2020 will contribute to achieving the Sri Lanka’s Vision 2025 by more..

Sri Lanka establishes diplomatic relations with Nicaragua

May 17 (MFA) Upon the signing of the Agreement by H.E. Dr. Amrith Rohan Perera, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations and Mr. Jaime Hermida Castillo, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Republic of Nicaragua to the United Nations on 15th May 2019 in New York, the Government of Sri Lanka and the Govt of Nicaragua decided to establish Diplomatic Relations more..

Singer Group posts Rs. 58.5 billion revenue for 2018/2019 - a 10% growth over PY

May 17 (Island) Singer Group reported revenue amounting to Rs 58.5 billion for the twelve-month period 2018/19, compared to Rs. 53.1 billion for same period in the prior year with a growth of 10% whilst compared to Rs 65.1 billion revenue during the fifteen month period of 2017/2018 as appears in the published Financial Statements. For the 2018/19 financial year, Group encountered multiple challenges including a prolonged drought and sluggish market conditions which lasted more..

Lasantha’s Daughter slams Army reinstatement of death squad leader

May 17 (CT) “Prabath Bulathwatte‘s reactivation in a prominent post will not only pose a serious threat to and have a chilling effect on those army officers and other witnesses who had the righteousness to speak up against Mr. Bulathwatte’s alleged wrongdoing, Lasantha Wickematunge’s daughter, Ahimsa Wickrematunge. Prabath Bulathwatte‘s reinstatement was announced on May 11 by Army Chief Lt. Gen. Mahesh Senanayake in an interview with news broadcaster Ada Derana. more..

Anura Kumara Disanayake

The crisis and constitutional violations

May 17 (FT) Sri Lanka was in a deep and complex crisis even before the outbreak of the Easter Sunday attacks. Now, in the wake of the Easter Sunday attacks, the country has plunged into a deeper and bigger crisis, which is more complex than it was before. The economy of the country was on a downward trend heading for virtual bankruptcy even before the Easter Sunday bomb attacks. Now the downturn of the economy has aggravated further, reaching a level which is two to three times more..

China Equation

May 17 (CT) This newspaper reported on Wednesday that Chinese President Xi Jinping had told President Maithripala Sirisena to root out terrorism in whatever way possible and ensure that national security is guaranteed in the island-nation. China too has its own form of Islamist terrorism. But being a totalitarian regime, it’s seemingly easier for Beijing to crackdown on terrorism, which, Sri Lanka a democracy cannot do. Additionally, Govt’s official website reported that Xi agreed to provide more..

Two suspects with close links to Zahran arrested at Horowpathana

May 17 (AD) Two persons, who are believed to have close links with the ringleader of the series of attacks on Easter Sunday and the leader of National Thowheed Jama’ath (NTJ) Zahran Hashim, have been arrested in Horowpathana. The arrest was made by the Special Task Force at Paththewa in Horowpathana last evening. The arrestees, Noor Mohammadu Abdul Rasool and Kana Mohamed Mijam, were identified as a principal and more..

US reiterates strong support for Sri Lanka in its fight against terrorism

May 17 (EN) US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pledged strong support to SL to fight terrorism when he met the island’s Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana in Washington Thursday. “The Secretary reiterated the United States’ condemnation of the attacks that Sri Lanka suffered last month, which also killed five Americans, and strong U.S. support for Sri Lanka in its fight against terrorism,” a U.S. Embassy statement said. more..

SLFP submits 11 proposals to strengthen national security

May 17 (DN) UPFA General Secretary and MP Mahinda Amaraweera said that a set of 11 proposals prepared by SLFP members to introduce new laws required to ensure national security and strengthen peace, harmony, and friendship between different communities and races will be discussed at the Parliament’s Sectoral Oversight Committee on National Security to be convened in Parliament today. He said the objective of introducing more..

EPF enters stock market with blood in the streets

May 17 (EN) Sri Lanka's 2.3 trillion rupee state-managed Employees' Provident Fund, has returned to the Colombo Stock Exchange, Central Bank Governor Indrajit Coomaraswamy said with the benchmark index hitting seven year lows. "The EPF has bought shares in one company last week," Governor Coomaraswamy told EconomyNext. The governor said that EPF policy does not allow him to disclose the new investment. more..

Iran-funded Uni in Badulla: Dilan Perera Allegedly radicalising Tamils

May 17 (CT) MP Dilan Perera alleged that another local education institute branch is being funded by the Al-Mustafa International University in Iran to radicalise non-Sinhala communities to rebel against the Sinhala community. Perera claimed this particular institute is located in the Badulla District and is under the supervision of Badulla District MP Aravinda Kumara, who has attended all the ceremonies held by the institute. more..

TNA takes up Pulmoddai land dispute with Prez, PM

May 17 (Island) TNA leader R. Sampanthan has sought the immediate intervention of President and PM to settle a simmering land dispute in Pulmoddai in the Trincomalee district. The following is the text of MP Sampanthan’s letter: A Monk lives in the area known as Arisimalai within the Pulmoddai Grama Sevaka Division, and within the Kuchchaveli Divisional Secretary’s – Division in the Trincomalee District. more..

What they left behind: Sri Lanka’s Easter Sunday bombing victims

May 17 (Reuters) In SL’s capital, Colombo, a lane that used to be alive with the sound of children playing is silent. An entire family, including three children, died in an explosion at St Anthony’s Church on Easter Sunday, one of a series of coordinated attacks by suicide bombers that killed more than 250 people. The youngest of the child victims was only 11 months old. Bevon, 9, and Clavon, 6, also died in the April 21 blast. more..

Sri Lankan army defends rehiring major amid outcry from rights groups

May 17 (Reuters) Sri Lanka’s army on Thursday defended its decision to reinstate an intelligence official arrested in 2017 on suspicion he attacked journalists, saying he is the right person to investigate the Easter bombings claimed by Islamic State. Major Prabath Bulathwatte was arrested on suspicion he assisted in the abduction and torture of editor Keith Noyahr in 2008. He was also accused in the murder of Lasantha Wickrematunga, more..

Cinnamon Grand bomber’s copper factory case takes a new turn

May 17 (DM) Wellampitiya Police OIC Gamini Senarath Hewawithana had complained to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) early this week demanding an inquiry against Colombo Magistrate Court Judge Priyantha Liyanage over the release on bail of nine employees of the copper factory in Wellampitiya. It was reported that the factory, which belonged to the Cinnamon Grand suicide bomber Inshaf Ahamed, more..

Riots in Minuwangoda: Pasta company owner says yes to law and no to divisions

May 17 (DM) As mob violence erupted in Minuwangoda on May 13, fire ripped through the country’s largest pasta manufacturing facility, endangering the lives of seven employees present at the time. Diamond pasta, a sister company of the PMM Group of companies which has been operating in food manufacturing and sales for five decades, was a target in the worst outbreak of sectarian violence SL has witnessed in a decade. more..

From Islamic extremism to marauding Sinhala-Buddhist violence

May 17 (DM) Just four days short of a month after the April 21 Easter Sunday tragedy that could have been averted, this country is still left in panic mode, in fear of terrorist attacks. At least that fear is what’s carried over and sustained in this post-Easter Sunday period. Yet, all that we see around us is Sinhala-Buddhist extremism, in their most violent anti-Muslim outbursts. It is being whipped up in vulgar forms through fake notices, unconfirmed and unsubstantiated stories, gossip and more..

Is it safe, because they say so?

May 17 (DM) Given the present tense situation in the country the upcoming Vesak Festival might have to be celebrated at home. If we don’t send our children to school due to safety concerns then we do have serious issues regarding security in this country. But the Govt authorities, including the prime minister, keep maintaining that the unhealthy situation that prevailed a few days ago has been brought under control. Vesak is a festival which attracts the participation of folks more..

Attacks on Muslims by organised mobs: Army Chief

May 17 (FT) Army Commander Major General Mahesh Senanayake yesterday said anti-communal violence carried out in at least three districts this week was perpetrated by well-organised groups. Speaking to reporters on Thursday, he denied allegations that the military was ineffective in cracking down on the groups that carried out well-coordinated attacks across a number of areas, including Bingiriya, Hettipola, Kuliyapitiya, more..

Climate peaceful for Vesak celebrations: Army Commander

May 17 (DN) A peaceful environment and security will be provided for everyone to enjoy their Vesak and to celebrate the tenth year of the end of terrorism in peace without overstepping the laws of the land, Army Commander Lt. General Mahesh Senanayake said. “The situation in the country has been brought under control since April 21 terrorist bombings. We have contained terrorism in spite of the occurrences of a few incidents on May 13 and 14, which were brought under control,” more..

Muslims ready for introspection and to rectify shortcomings: Kabir Hashim

May 17 (CT) Muslim community is prepared to look at themselves critically and rectify any shortcomings, said Minister Kabir Hashim yesterday. He told the Media held at the SL Foundation Institute that he was speaking on behalf of the Muslim community. Former MP Imithiaz Bakeer Markar, Ferial Ashraff and M.U.M. Ali Sabry (PC) also attended the Press conference. “What happened on Easter Sunday hurt our community a lot. It has created a rift between us and all the other cultures in Sri Lanka. more..

Release of copper factory workers by Court: Fate of W’pitiya OIC worries Police

May 17 (CT) Many top ranking Police officials have raised concern over the granting of bail to nine suspects, linked to Easter Sunday bombings, by Colombo Additional Magistrate, Priyantha Liyanage despite opposition raised by the Wellampitiya Police & blaming OIC of Wellampitiya Police, Gamini Hewavitharana for giving bail to suspects who were working at a copper factory belonging to one of the suicide bombers. more..

Accused held in Sri Lanka suspected handler

May 17 (DNA) The software engineer suspected by authorities in Sri Lanka of providing technical and logistical support to the suicide bombers of April 21, 2019 attack, was also a suspected handler of two IS operatives arrested by Gujarat Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) two years back. Reportedly, Sri Lankan software engineer identified as Aadhil Ameez, a 24-year-old, was link between groups that attacked churches and hotels in Sri Lanka and killed more than 250 people. more..

Thowheed urges Lanka to protect Muslims

May 17 (Hindu) Tamil Nadu Thowheed Jamat leaders met officials in the SL embassy in Chennai on Thursday to express their solidarity with the Easter bombing victims and urged them to prevent violence against Muslim community that erupted after the incident. “Terrorism has no religion and we Muslims condemn any act of terrorism happening in any part of the world. We pray for the return of peace in SL. We have also conducted a massive protest against bomb blasts in Sri Lanka more..