Police to probe Hambantota incident
The Police have been directed to make an investigation into the incident that took place in Hambantota when people and the Maha Sanga staged a protest in connection with the agreements between the government and a Chinese Company, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said in Parliament yesterday. He said following the investigation, everybody could have access to them via the authorities.
He made this observation in response to a query by Opposition Member Chamal Rajapaksa and MP Dinesh Gunawardena.
The Prime Minister responding to MP Rajapaksa said ministers and himself went to meet the Ven. Maha Sanga in Thissamaharamaya.
He said when the monks made their queries, they were told the matter was handled by a Committee led by Minister Sarath Amunugama. They were to meet the Theras to discuss the issues.
He said when government representatives met the Chinese President, he had offered two companies: The China Harbour Company and the China Merchant Company. The government selected the China Mecrchant Company. Later the China Harbour Company had withdrawn their documents. “The one that MP Chamal rajapaksa was referring to would be one of them,” he said.
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe assured that the lands would be acquired in a manner that MP Chamal Rajapaksa suggested. He said the Chinese government commenced a vocational training institute. It will turn into a large institute.
Agreements on development programmes will be presented to Parliament: Kiriella
Leader of the House and Higher Education and Highways Minister Lakshman Kiriella assured the House that the agreements entered into with the Chinese company on the Hambantota Harbour and other related development programmes would be presented to Parliament.
He said the government will give a debate over these agreements.
He made these observations yesterday in response to query by Chief Opposition Whip and JVP Parliamentarian Anura Kumara Dissanayake following a special statement by Joint Opposition Member Dinesh Gunawardena in Parliament.
Minister Kiriella said however, the incident took place as the people did not act in line with a Court Order.
A Court Order prevented illegal gathering. Opposition members were on the road during the incident. They urged the people to protest and they led it, he said.
Joint Opposition Member Namal Rajapaksa said the media reported the previous day the Prime Minister saying that following a discussion with Thissa Mahanayake Theras, he would take measures to cancel the Court Order for people to attend the ceremony.
However, a conflict might have taken place between the people who went from Colombo and protesters.
“Thugs went into houses and assaulted even children,” Namal Rajapaksa said.
“An investigation should be held into the incident,” he said.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said Thissamaharama Nayaka Theras could attend a funeral due to an order.
“I told them to inform the matter to the IGP and get it removed,” he said. “I did not have any involvement other than that,”he said.
The Prime Minister said he expected that Namal Rajapaksa would participate at the ceremony. Several other UPFA Ministers like Vijayamuni Soyza, A. H. M. Fowzie, Rajitha and Amunugama attended the ceremony, he said.
Opposition responsible for disrupting event attended by PM: Sagala
The Opposition was responsible for disrupting an event that was participated by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in Hambantota, Law and Order and Southern Development Minister Sagala Rathnayake said.
Minister Rathnayake made this observation in Parliament yesterday when opposition members queried of the conflict between protesters and others in Hambantota.
The Minister said they too staged protests while in opposition, but they did not level a threat to the VIP security of a President or a Prime Minister.
MP Namal Rajapaksa said protestors were not given a place to protest.
MP Dullas Alahapperuma said among the peaceful protesters were Omalpe Omare Kassapa Thera.
Minister Kabir Hashim said this was not a planned attack by our side. “It was planned by the opposition side.
“They came there with stones and bricks to assault us,” the Minister said.
“The Police were silent. But later the Police had to respond.
“They had preplanned it. They attacked even two ambulances. Who attacked ambulances? Those who came to attack learnt a lesson,” he said.
Amaraweera invites Opposition to support H’tota development
Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Minister Mahinda Amaraweera yesterday invited Opposition members in Parliament to support the setting up of the Hambantota Industrial Zone and continue with the programme they initiated during the previous regime.
He said it should be their responsibility to empower the youth in Hambantota and get employment opportunities to the country and not to disrupt the development process.
He made these observations yesterday following the special statement by Opposition member Dinesh Gunawardena on the agreement between the government and a Chinese Company on the Hambantota Harbour.
Minister Amaraweera said they would not offer the outright ownership of lands to China as the Opposition said. He said the government neither gives one million visas to Chinese people nor makes it a Chinese Colony as the Opposition said.
He said the government would not take over 15,000 houses or remove 35,000 families from those areas to acquire land. The people would be allowed to remain in their houses. Arid lands would be taken over for an industrial zone, he said. Minister Amaraweera said a mistake was done by the government side by making various statements on land acquisition.
He said the construction of the Hambantota harbour and the Mattala airport was commendable. The South is being developed due to those constructions.
He said the previous government and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa also said that Hambantota could be developed by setting up an industrial zone. The minister said he stood against the decision of making the Mattala Airport a Paddy store.
People have doubts over land acquisition: Anura Kumara
The government should present agreements it had entered into in connection with the Hambantota Harbour to Parliament before the harbor is handed over to the Chinese Company, Chief Opposition Whip and JVP Parliamentarian Anura Kumara Dissanayake said.
He said the previous government had entered into an agreement in September 2014 with the China Harbour Company for 35 years while keeping 35 percent to the government.
He said this government had entered into several agreements, including the Framework Agreement.
“However, none of them have been presented to Parliament,” MP Dissanayake said.
“They should be presented to Parliament before the harbour is handed over to the Chinese Company,” he said.
“People were removed from their lands to acquire lands for these projects. They are again removed from resettled lands,” MP Dissanayake said. “They have a suspicion over the agreements as one said 15,000 acres are acquired while others said otherwise,” he said.
Dissanayake said due to suspicion, the people came to protest. “ The people went from Colombo hurled stones at protestors,” Dissanayake said. “I saw pictures that one Local Government member’s wife had stones in hand. A Parliamentary debate should be held in this connection,” he said.
Joint Opposition Member Wimal Werawansa said the members who said before January 8 that the Hambantota Harbour was a swimming pool.
Haunted house in Gampola: Elvis has left the building!
Police in Gampola are investigating reports of an apparent poltergeist fires in a house.
A father had reported to the police that mysterious and spontaneous fires have been springing up in their home, Gampola Police OIC Upali Senarath Yapa said yesterday.
The police recorded it under miscellaneous complaints and are looking into it, he said.
The house is in Umagiri Uyana area of the Gampola Atabage Gramaseva Division. The complainant, whose job is carpentry, lives there with his wife and two boys.
The fires mostly caught up the clothes of the children, he had told the police.
“There were some marks of fire inside the house,” Gampola Police MisceIleneous Unit OIC IP Gamanayaka said.
Our sources in Gampaha said several residents in the neighborhood told them they too have seen the fires appearing and smoldering the clothes lying around inside the house.
“The owner of the house said yesterday that he felt things were returning to normal after they had made a prayer to a certain devamaniyo,” IP Gamanayaka said. “That is what he believes, but the police cannot form any theories on that,” he said.
Our sources in Gampola said that the house owner is refusing to allow anyone inside the house to witness it or to make any photographs of the house on the advice of a voodoo doctor (kattadiya).