No increase in flights to Jaffna
[TamilNet, Monday, 31 August 1998, 17:43 GMT]
Sri Lanka's Ministry of Defence (MoD) told the Anti-Harassment Committee today that it cannot increase the number of civilian flights to the northern Jaffna peninsula to help ease the hardships faced by travellers in securing seats.
The Anti-Harassment Committee was appointed by the Sri Lankan President in June and comprises, among others, Mr. Lakshman Jayakody, Minister for Cultural and Buddhist Affairs, Prof. G.L Pieris Minister for Constitutional affairs, Douglas Devananda MP leader of the EPDP, Mr. M. M Zuhair MP, SLMC and R. Sampanthan MP, TULF.
The Committee meets every Monday.
It had recently requested the MoD to take steps to expedite the process of issuing security clearance to civilians who await permission to fly to Jaffna and also to increase flights to Jaffna to meet the demand to reasonable degree.
The committee had pointed out that civilians were greatly inconvenienced by their inability to obtain urgent security clearance on weekends to fly to Jaffna as the MoD offices handling this are closed on Saturdays and Sundays.
The Additional secretary to the MoD. Mr. S. A Wickrama Araachchi. informed the Committee that the MoD was prepared to process and issue security clearance permits to Jaffna travellers on Saturdays but it could not increase flights to meet the demand because the Ratmalana airfield currently used by the planes flying to and from Jaffna is not large enough to handle more flights and that flying people to the north out of the Bandaranayake International Airport posed security problems
He also stated that the MoD cannot increase flights to Jaffna because the military has to frequently avail itself of the aircraft used for civilian transport.
The Commissioners noted that the Police had not taken any action on their request that it (the Police) should conduct an inquiry into the assault on Somaratna Rajapaksha, the SLA soldier who was sentenced to death in the Krishanthy Kumarasamy rape and murder case.
They said that the excuse given by the Police for not doing so was unacceptable.
The Police had said it was not necessary for it conduct an investigation into the matter as the prison authorities are already begun their own inquiry.
The Police also had no answer to the Commission's query on the abduction of the Tamil journalist Madhusoothanan without the arresting authority issuing a receipt to his immediate relatives or friends.
Police officials told the Commission that they would submit a report on the arrest and detention of this Tamil journalist at its next sitting.