MR wants PSC to probe Easter Sunday attacks

Opposition leader Mahinda Rajapaksa today urged the government to appoint a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) with full powers to probe the Easter Sunday attack, ascertain the historical background behind it and recommend the steps to be taken to prevent such disasters in the future.

He told parliament that everyone should rise up as Sri Lankans against terrorism and rescue the country from the debacle.

Mr. Rajapaksa said the government was responsible to ensure the safety of fear-stricken people, build their confidence and re-establish the economy.

"This situation is different from the previous terrorism the country had to face. Contribution of the people is needed to come out of this crisis. We all need to join hands and build the country," he said.

Mr. Rajapaksa said the government had planned to reopen primary section of schools at a situation when security forces had warned of a possible attack on the 13th of this month and asked if it was reasonable to risk the lives of four million children.

"How can you justify the reopening of schools? I accept that schools cannot be kept closed for long. But is it children’s safety or completing syllabuses more important,” he asked and added that these children were not bullet-proof.

Mr. Rajapaksa said the country had faced terrorism for centuries under several governments but there had been no uncertainty like this before.

"There had been bomb explosions in other countries targeting civilians. But what happened to us was the country fell from the frying fan to the hearth due to the conduct of the government after the bomb explosions," he said adding that the government should make sure not to create any suspicion among the people on the investigations carried out by the police and security forces.

"People have to be arrested under situations like this. Investigations have to be launched. I urge the government not to allow such investigations to be hindered under anyone's influence," he said.

Mr. Rajapaksa said they could not approve of the government's move to restrict media on countrywide search operations and added that they did not do so even at the height of the war.

"We cannot prevent false news from being spread when true information was suppressed," he said.

Referring to the proposed Counter Terrorism Act, he said the country could never be rescued from terrorism if this new act was brought in place of the Prevention of Terrorism Act at this juncture.

"Please consult the Mahanayake Theras, Catholic and other religious leaders and trade union leaders and university student unions," he said. (Ajith Siriwardana and Yohan Perera)