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SL delegation meets Indian Foreign Minister & Lok Sabha Speaker

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A delegation from Sri Lanka led by Speaker – Mahinda Yapa Abeywardana, who is on an official visit to India, recently met the Speaker of the Indian Lok Sabha, Hon. Om Birla. 

The close relations between the two countries in many aspects, including culture, were taken up at these discussions. 

The Indian Speaker pointed out that the close relationship between Sri Lanka and India, which has existed for thousands of years, should be maintained strongly in the future. Furthermore, the Speaker of the Indian Lok Sabha assured that India will be a strength to Sri Lanka during this economic crisis.

A meeting was also held between the Speaker of Sri Lanka and the Indian Foreign Minister Hon. Dr. S. Jaishankar. The Indian Foreign Minister stated that he will provide all support to overcome the economic challenge that Sri Lanka has to face. He also mentioned that steps will be taken to increase the number of Indian tourists visiting Sri Lanka. Discussions were also held regarding expediting visa facilities for Sri Lankans visiting India and providing free visa facilities to Indian tourists visiting Sri Lanka. Attention was also paid to the need to provide a solution for the large increase in onion prices in this country.

The Speaker also invited Indian investors to invest in Sri Lanka. The Indian Foreign Minister stated that many Indian investors are willing to invest in Sri Lanka and they are encouraged to do so.

Furthermore, the Speaker expressed his gratitude to the Indian Foreign Minister for standing up for Sri Lanka’s democracy when the country’s democracy was threatened during the previous crisis. The Speaker also thanked the Indian Minister of Foreign Affairs for giving two more years to pay off the 550 million Indian Rupees loan that was to be paid in three years. The Speaker expressed his special respect for the support provided to this country as a true relative of Sri Lanka more than any other country.

The delegation led by the Speaker also met the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha and Vice President of India Mr. Jagdeep Dhankhar. Expressing his happiness regarding this meeting, Rajya Sabha Chairman stated that such a delegation from Sri Lanka came in after five years. It was discussed that the deep relationship between the people of the two countries should be further protected. The chairman of the Indian Rajya Sabha also pointed out the need for both countries to follow a lenient policy when arresting fishermen, as the crossing of the sea border in the fishing industry of the two countries may not happen intentionally.

Deputy Speaker – Ajith Rajapakse, Deputy Chairperson of Committees – Angajan Ramanathan, Minister Keheliya Rambukwella, Members of Parliament Niroshan Perera, Mohomad Muzammil, Waruna Liyanage, Weerasumana Weerasinghe, M. Udayakumar, M. Rameshwaran, Jagath Samarawickrama, a group of officials including the Secretary General of Parliament Mrs. Kushani Rohanadeera, Chief of Staff and Deputy Secretary General Mr. Chaminda Kularatne were part of the delegation.

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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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