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Govt. vows unyielding stand against drugs & underworld

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Minister of Public Security Tiran Alles declared an unwavering commitment to continuing the operation to suppress drug trafficking and underworld activities in the country, regardless of external pressures. Minister Alles emphasized that President Ranil Wickremesinghe has wholeheartedly endorsed the operation, ensuring that it will persist despite any potential impacts.

Minister Alles underscored the significance of public support, drawing parallels between the backing received to end the thirty-year war and the current necessity for a united front against drugs and underworld activities. He expressed the vision of creating an environment where future generations can live free from fear or doubt.

The Minister’s remarks were made during the ìCollective Path to a Stable Country ìmedia briefing held at the Presidential Media Centre today (21). The resolute stance articulated by Minister Tiran Alles signals the government’s dedication to combating these issues for the betterment of the nation’s security and stability.

Minister Tiran Alles further commented:

“The special operation known as ìYukthiyaî (Justice), implemented throughout the island, has become the subject of widespread discussion within the country. Despite ongoing issues with drugs and underworld activities, it was imperative to take decisive action to curb these activities. Thus, the ìYukthiyaî operation was initiated with the primary goal of putting an end to drug trafficking and underworld activities in the country. Special responsibilities have been assigned to community police committees in this regard.

The success of this operation hinges on the support of the people, particularly the media. Just as there was collective support for the security forces during the war, a similar unity is crucial now. While the Three Decades’ War was confined to the North and East, the current situation has spread throughout the entire country. Public support serves as a formidable strength for the police and therefore, it is requested that the public provides necessary support and accurate information for the success of this operation. With such support, it is believed that drug trafficking and underworld activities can be eradicated from the country by June of next year.

The Navy has initiated a special operation to prevent the smuggling of drugs into the country through the sea routes. The operation focuses on disrupting the distribution network, stopping underworld activities associated with drug trafficking, and paying special attention to drug users. Instructions have been given to the Inspector General of Police to concentrate on apprehending drug dealers rather than drug addicts.

Intelligence reports indicate the involvement of 4,665 individuals in drug trafficking and the underworld. Orders have been given to arrest all these individuals, resulting in the arrest of 731 people in the last four days alone, including those not initially mentioned in intelligence reports. Additionally, 8,451 others have been arrested, with 346 in detention, 61 undergoing asset investigations and 697 referred for rehabilitation.

During these operations, the police have successfully seized a substantial quantity of drugs, including marijuana, hashish, heroin and ice valued at Rs. 431 million in the past four days. When considering assets such as vehicles, houses and properties belonging to the suspects as liabilities, their total value amounts to around Rs. 162 million. All confiscated items will undergo legal proceedings for forfeiture.

Prior to commencing this operation, discussions were held with President Ranil Wickremesinghe, who shares the stance that drug trafficking and underworld activities must be eradicated from the country. With the President’s blessings, this operation will persist despite any external influence. The commitment is to create an environment where drugs and underworld activities can be eliminated, ensuring that future generations can live without fear or doubt.

Moreover, concerns have been raised about the abuse of children and women. To address these issues, instructions have been given to introduce a special hotline, similar to the police emergency number, from the first week of January. Women police officers will operate under this dedicated phone number, recognizing that women may hesitate to share their problems with male police officers. Furthermore, plans are underway to introduce a new hotline specifically for submitting complaints in Tamil.”

(President’s Media Division)

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School outdoor activities suspended over soaring temperatures

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The Education Ministry has instructed all respective school authorities to refrain from making students participate in strenuous outdoor activities until Friday (March 01) at schools as temperatures are expected to rise further.

Accordingly, Sports Day events, sports practices or any other scheduled outdoor activities are urged to be suspended for the time being.

Provincial and zonal authorities of education have been instructed to brief school principals about the matter, the ministry said in a press release.

In addition, school administrations are required to comply with the health guidelines issued by the Health Ministry and the Education Ministry.

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Court suspends divestiture process of SLT & Lanka Hospitals

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The Court of Appeal yesterday (27) issued an interim order preventing authorities from proceeding with the divestiture process of Sri Lanka Telecom and Lanka Hospitals Corporation PLC, until March 12.

Three Petitions were filed for Sri Lanka Telecom PLC including by Lyca Mobiles, and S.M.R. M company, while two petitions were filed for Lanka Hospitals Corporation PLC including by Lyca Leasing Holdings.

Upon the oral submissions made by President’s Counsel Kuvera De Zoysa, Court of Appeal Justice D.N. Samarakoon issued notices on respondents, returnable for March 12.

The petitioners named Minister of Finance Ranil Wickremesinghe, State Minister of Finance Shehan Semasinghe, the members of the special Cabinet-appointed negotiating committee for the purpose of selecting pre-qualified bidders for the strategic divestiture pertaining to 51.34% shares of Lanka Hospitals PLC and several others as respondents.

Kuvera De Zoysa, PC with Raslka Dissanayake, Sajana de Zoysa, Dinusha Pathirana and Shablr Huzalr instructed by Sanath Wijewardane appeared for the petitioners.

The petitioners had informed the court that they had submitted bids per the required criteria for the divestiture of the Sri Lankan Government’s shares of 50.23% in Sri Lanka Telecom PLC and 51.34% in Lanka Hospitals Corporation PLC.

The petitioners alleged that, however, the Cabinet of Ministers had rejected the bids without providing any clear explanations, adding that the decision was against the law.

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Lankan convict in Gandhi assassination case passes away

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Santhan alias T Suthendiraraja, a Sri Lankan national who was one of the six convicts released in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, died on Wednesday morning at the Rajiv Gandhi Government Hospital (RGGH) in Chennai.

Santhan, who was released by the Indian Supreme Court in November 2022, was kept at the special camp near the Tiruchirapalli Central Prison.

Last week, the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) in Chennai issued an order to deport Santhan to Sri Lanka, however, he was admitted to the RGGH for treatment for a kidney-related ailment.

Addressing the reports, E Thenirajan, Dean, RGGH, said that based on the directions of the Tiruchirapalli district collector, Santhan was admitted to the hospital on January 27.

Thenirajan said a team of doctors were treating him at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and constantly monitoring him. He said Santhan was diagnosed with cryptogenic cirrhosis or a liver disease.

“He suffered a setback to his health yesterday (Tuesday) night. He had lost consciousness and we were providing treatment. Around 4.30 am today (Wednesday), he suffered a cardiac arrest. He was revived following a CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) procedure and was on ventilator support. However, he failed to respond to further treatment and passed away at 7.50 am,” he said.

Thenirajan said they would carry out the post-mortem procedures now and take further measures to send his body to Sri Lanka.

According to court documents, Santhan is believed to have fled then strife-torn Sri Lanka in 1991 and reached India by boat, along with Sivarasan, who led the assassination team and was never caught alive, and a few others. According to the Supreme Court order, Santhan’s role in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi was direct and active.

Santhan was initially sentenced to death for his involvement in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, however, his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. He was released in November 2022, along with five other convicts, after spending over three decades in prison.

(The Indian Express)

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