Indian settlement in Vanni: A canard says govt.


By Shamindra Ferdinando

Ports and Shipping Minister and SLFP spokesman Mahinda Samarasinghe yesterday strongly denied National Freedom Front (NFF) leader Wimal Weerawansa MP’s claim that 250 Indians had been settled in the Vanni.

Samarasinghe alleged that Weerawansa was making an attempt to deceive the public. The SLFP Vice President said so when The Island raised the issue at the weekly SLFP briefing at party office at T.B. Jayah Mawatha.

The minister said since the conclusion of the conflict in May 2009, approximately 10,000 Sri Lankans who had fled the country returned. The minister explained the ongoing United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) managed project to repatriate Sri Lankans carried out with the direct involvement of Sri Lankan diplomatic mission in Chennai.

Addressing the media on Sunday, Weerawansa claimed that his party had proof that among 1,500 persons recently resettled in the Vanni was 250 Indians. Weerawansa said the Indians lacked any documentary proof to prove their identity.

Samarasinghe said that Weerawansa shouldn’t have made such accusations without verifying facts.

insisted that all repatriations were subjected to approval by the Chennai mission.

Responding to another query, Samarasinghe said that the SLFP Central Committee would discuss the JVP proposed 20th Amendment to the Constitution on Sept 19.

The JVP recently unveiled the hotly disputed proposal meant to abolish the executive presidency.

Commenting on recent reportage of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) seeking to record a statement from Chief of Defence Staff Admiral Ravi Wijegunaratne regarding his involvement with a Lieutenant Commander Chandana Prasad Hettiarachchi, a suspect in wartime disappearance cases, Samarasinghe said that the senior most serving armed forces officer was representing the country in Mexico Independence Day celebrations.

Samarasinghe stressed that Wijegunaratne hadn’t fled the country and would be available next week. Once he returned from Mexico, the CID could take his statement and proceed with the investigation.

Samarasinghe emphasized that many others had sought fresh dates when they were asked to report to the CID and other investigating agencies. The SLFP spokesman said that the Office of the CDS on Monday issued a statement clarifying Admiral Wijegunaratne leaving the country. Therefore, there couldn’t be any issue over that, the minister said.

Samarasinghe also announced that the Colombo port receiving the top rank as the world’s number one container growth port among the top 30 container ports for the first half of 2018.

He said in container handling Port of Colombo had recorded a 15.6% growth for the first half of 2018 over the same period last year according to Alphaliner Monthly 2018.

The minister said it was a very significant achievement as Sri Lanka never achieved that before.

According to Alphaliner global port rankings the top container growth ports such as Singapore marked 11.6% ranking number two, Guangzhou 8.6% number three, Antwerp (Belgium) 8.3% number four and Port of Xiamen ? (China) 7.6% number five.

The Alphaliner that makes the analysis is the first-choice knowledge base used by many ports authorities, terminal operators, logistics companies, shippers, research companies and banks and other financial institutions.

Samarasinghe said that all three terminals Jaya owned by SLPA and SAGT and CICT worked collectively to achieve the top position.

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