B. Muralidhar Reddy

COLOMBO: The Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) on Tuesday refuted charges by Indian fisherman that its personnel had opened fire on at least four Indian boats off the Kottaipattinam coast in India early on Tuesday morning.

“We have no involvement in this as the area falls within the territorial waters of India. The SLN only patrols within the waters of Sri Lanka and we have received no reports of this matter,” SLN spokesperson D.K.P Dassanayake said.

He was responding to a question on media reports that SLN personnel had destroyed fishing nets and the catch of four mechanised boats off Kottaipattinam.

In a separate development, the island nation’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa addressing a group from Galle district at his official residence here said that all those who cared for the country should ‘organise themselves to defeat local and foreign conspiracies which are designed to reverse military victories.’

A statement posted on the Presidential Secretariat website quoted him as saying that his government had added to the country not only one third of land (wrested from the LTTE after the military victory in May), but two thirds of the coastal area as well.

It said: “This would make a positive contribution towards the economy. An attempt is being made to divide the North and the East, the President warned. The international community intervened while Norway mediated.” The attempt to hand over a part of the country in writing is not “something that is normally done by a leader,” the President said, recalling the CFA [Ceasefire Agreement] between the then Wickremesinghe government and the LTTE.

The Opposition’s role, he said, was to point out the errors of the government in Parliament but in Sri Lanka it ‘is not against the government. It is against the country.’

In another development, the government said the action plan for implementing the National Framework Proposal on Reintegrating Ex-Combatants (surrendered members of the LTTE and other militant outfits) would be finalised before the end of September.

The proposal was officially presented to President Mahinda Rajapaksa on September 18 in the presence of visiting U.N. Under Secretary General for Political Affairs, Lynn Pascoe.

Meanwhile, in a speech in Parliament, a former Foreign Minister accused the President and his family of running the country like their family business.

“Had Orwell been alive today, he would have been relieved and happy to see that most of the world had moved away from fascist/communist forms of government to firmly entrenched forms of democratic governance — including Germany and Russia. “However I am sure he would have been shocked to see the little island paradise called Ceylon which gained Independence from the British Empire in 1948, only a year before he released his novel, would become the setting for a true-to-life Orwellian nightmare 59 years later.”