|Friday, 4 January 2002|
Thousands grieve for Minister : Jan 5 Day of National Mourning
The Government yesterday declared Saturday, January 5 as a Day of National Mourning as a mark of respect to the late UNP Assistant Leader and Minister of Transport, Highways and Civil Aviation Gamini Atukorale.
The remains of Minister Atukorale were brought yesterday to Parliament. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Opposition Leader Ratnasiri Wickremanayake, Speaker Joseph Michael Perera, Ministers and MPs from the Government and Opposition were among those who paid their last respects at the Parliament arcade.
Parliament staff, ambassadors and representatives of foreign missions in Sri Lanka also paid their last respects to the Minister in Parliament.
The motorcade carrying the remains of the Minister reached his Panawenna, Kahawatta residence around 4 p.m. yesterday. Thousands of people gathered to pay their last respects to the late Minister along the High Level Road from Maharagama to Ratnapura.
People from Ratnapura to Pelmadulla irrespective of their party differences paid tributes to the late Minister by closing shops and hoisting white flags.
Our correspondent in Kahawatta, Ratnapura said thousands of mourners flocked to the late Minister's residence at Panawenna from noon yesterday to pay their last respects to the Minister who represented them at the legislature for 24 years.
The remains will lie-in-state at his Panawenna residence till 10 a.m. Saturday and will be removed to the Sabaragamauwa Provincial Council. The funeral rituals will commence at 2.30 p.m. Saturday, January 5.
Meanwhile, a press release issued by the Transport, Highways and Civil Aviation Ministry said special inter-city luxury bus services will be operated from Colombo and outstation towns to Ratnapura on Saturday January 5 for the convenience of those attending the funeral.
This follows a directive issued by State Transport Minister Piyasoma Upali to the National Transport Commission yesterday.
The release said these bus services will begin from towns such as Colombo, Kalutara, Kandy, Avissawella, Kegalle, Gampaha, Badulla, Embilipitiya, Matara and Galle from 9 a.m. on Saturday.
The buses will start the return trip from Ratnapura at 6.30 p.m. on Saturday after the funeral.
Produced by Lake House