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* Minister Bathiudeen denies exerting pressure on Army Commander to release anyone
Fri, May 24, 2019, 09:32 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

May 24, Colombo: Minister Rishad Bathiudeen says contrary to the allegations levelled against him, he never exerted pressure on the Commander of the Army to release any arrested person.

Using his right to reply in the House, the Minister in Parliament on Wednesday responded to the allegations levelled against him by opposition politicians.

The Minister of Industry, Commerce, Resettlement of Protracted Displaced Persons, Cooperative Development, Skills Development & Vocational Training said no Islamic cleric ever functioned as an Advisor to him and none of the Moulavies arrested were his advisors.

"There are no Moulavis functioning in an Advisory capacity to me as the Minister. Therefore none of the arrested Moulavis to-date were my advisors. My two official Advisors have been Mr Roy Jayasinghe and Dr Azees," said the Minister.

Minister Bathiudeen said earlier it has also been reported earlier that a Coordinating Secretary of his arrested. "That too was a lie and a totally false statement."

"There was also the accusation that my brother was arrested which was false. I have now obtained a letter from the IGP attesting my brother was never arrested."

Explaining the circumstance that had led him to ask the Army Commander about an individual, Bathiudeen said he never pressured the Army Commander to release anyone.

"The Advisor to Muslim Affairs Ministry Mr Jainudeen called me and complained to me an unidentified group of people visited his home, and nabbed his son. For two days I was visiting Police stations-even Dehiwala Police station-without any success. The Police stations said there was no one like that under them. They advised me to speak to the Military forces to continue my search. Then I contacted the State Minister of Defense Ruwan Wijewardene who advised me to contact the Army Commander to see if the missing person was with the Army. I was doing this 'missing person search' on a humanitarian grounds. I then contacted the Commander and only asked him if this person was with the Army. I did not pressurize the Commander and never asked the Commander to release any individual either. Therefore the accusation that I pressurized the Commander utterly false.

"I wish to ask this House and people of Sri Lanka -Is it wrong to inquire about another politician's missing family member if the family contacts you and ask you to help them to locate their missing person from Police stations and the Army?" the Minister asked.

The Joint Opposition has submitted a no-confidence motion, with the signatures of 64 MPs against the Minister of Industry & Commerce, Resettlement of Protracted Displaced Persons, Co-operative Development and Vocational Training & Skills Development Rishad Bathiudeen.

The debate on the No Confidence Motion against Minister Bathiudeen will be held on June 18th and 19th.


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