By Lal Wickrematunge –
Who killed three young men in Weliweriya?
The silence, from those who have plenty to say when a perceived achievement could be made use of for political capital, is deafening. The Army will conduct an internal inquiry and this process naturally would go beyond September 2013, for obvious reasons. One could surmise that the inquiry would take longer than it took to impeach a Chief Justice.
“The Inspector General had requested the Army to support the Police on the ground to quell a public disturbance which could have caused harm to persons and property”, was the official version. This simply does not hold water. Is it not correct that the Army and the other two forces are often seen on the streets in various parts of Colombo and even in other cities carrying weapons? Has the IGP requested military support for such deployment?
Before the official version was released it was reported in the media that the vociferous monk fronting the BBS had requested the induction of the Army to Weliweriya. He denied having done so subsequently. The very same Monk was captured on video using the most despicable language to castigate Minister Dilan Perera, but that is another matter for those who wormed and weaned the buddhist clergy to filter into areas outside their calling, to deal with. It will not be long before they bite the very hands that feed them. Sri Lankan history is replete with such incidence.
Weliweriya, sits within the Gampaha District, where Basil Rajapaksa was given a whopping mandate together with an actress turned politician Upeksha Swarnamali,( who later defected from the UNP to the government), also carding a huge score. Lest we forget, Mervyn Silva having barely topped 2000 votes in Colombo at the previous parliamentary election was given a rousing welcome from Gampaha District this time due to the Rajapaksa siblings canvassing for him. Why couldn’t such an electorate lobby their legislators,( who are from the top drawer), to find a solution to a simple matter of disposing effluent from a factory, in an environmentally safe manner?
The people of Weliweriya did not ask for an Airport or a Sea Port. They did not want Jogging tracks or 5 Star Hotels. Safe potable water was their request. The owner of the Factory being a political appointee of the government did not help. That fact however did raise more questions than answers. People may have forgotten that the harm caused to person and property belonging to a clothing shop, owned by a Muslim( Fashion Bug) a few months back, did not evoke a similar response. In fact it was quite the opposite. The long arm of the law was present and remained without any response, whilst the perpetrators caused destruction to property. Photographic and video evidence recorded the presence of dormant Policemen whilst a criminal act was being carried out by a robed monk in full view. How did the monk know that he would not be arrested by those Policemen? That fracas was amicably settled between the two parties or so went the official communiqué. The “ people” have become aware of how the law is dispensed. People of Weliweriya were not the first to take to the streets and they will not be the last either.
The image of the “ war hero” has been dented by the killing of three youth. Speaking on video camera, a middle aged man from Weliweriya, who had donated blood on more than one occasion to injured soldiers during the war, regretted his sacrifice.” My blood runs through them. I will forget that I donated blood”.
A government that is under fire from the international community for alleged war crimes, human rights abuse and curtailing freedom of expression, will be hard put to explain the killing of three young men by the very same military touted to be the best in the region. Of course this incident was within the Gampaha District and the media captured every moment unlike the “war” in the North- East. It would certainly sound hollow for the government of Mahinda Rajapaksa to maintain a “zero casualty” stance during the last stages of the war in the North when Weliweriya under public glare, proved otherwise.
Be that as it may, the Sri Lankans have very short memories. Remember, the people of Gampaha District are also Sri Lankans. They had the vicarious luxury of the media capturing the horrible episode, blow by blow. But, so did Katunayake and Deraniyagala.Which to them seem like a distant memory. The same “ top drawer” will score heavily at the next elections.
“And then they came for me…..” was not meant for Sri Lankans. Not yet.