By Latheef Farook –
Sinhalese and Muslims wanted to live in peace; However racist mercenaries think otherwise
People, Sinhalese and Muslims, in around Gintota, a town close to Galle in the South of the island, wanted to live in peace and harmony as they have lived for generations in the area. However unfortunate for the country some suspected racist mercenaries including Buddhist monks think otherwise and oppose all peace moves.
On Tuesday 14 November 2017 a Sinhalese teenager riding a motor bike, some suspect without a valid license, knocked down around a 55 year old Muslim woman who was injured.
It was purely an accident and nothing to do with communal hatred.
The lady was taken to hospital, given treatment and sent home. Later the two sides, relative of the Muslim lady and Sinhalese motor bike rider’s met and amicably settled the issue. The boy reported to have paid a sum of Rs 25,000/- as compensation to the lady who has agreed not to complaint to the police about the accident.
That issue ended there peacefully without any hatred.
On Thursday 16 November 2017, around 6.30 PM some Muslims boys who were returning home after playing football in the same locality were attacked by some Sinhalese boys. Muslims went home brought people and attacked the Sinhalese boys who attacked them. In the process Muslims also attacked a Sinhalese house which they later admitted was a mistake and repented.
However since then tension began to rise and Pradeshiya Sabha member Kiyas who usually takes active part in community issues went to meet prominent Sinhalese in the area to stop the rising tension amicably.
On Friday 17 November 2017 representatives of two mosques and Sinhalese people in the area met and decided to settle whatever the issue peacefully. People agreed to a peaceful settlement. However the Buddhist monk in the area, supposed to be a close associate of racist outfit Bodu Bala Sena general secretary Galagoda Atte Gnanasara Thera, accused Kiyas of inciting the problem, got him arrested and refused for a peaceful settlement.
Result was rising tension which many Sinhalese and Muslims believe was uncalled for.
All went home and there was relative calm in the area.
In the midst around 7 pm two bus load of people, all face covered, all outsiders and none from the area, suspected to be armed, arrived at Gintota junction together with four Buddhist monks. In view of the rising tension there was increased police force and STF personnel at the Gintota junction. However police and STF personnel were withdrawn after Friday prayers at around 1.30pm for reason not known to the public. Now they question why the forces were removed despite prevailing tension.
The mob started moving into less populated areas first. Later they started throwing stones and attacking a small mosque called Thkkiya in the Gintota junction. From there they started stoning and attacking houses and shops. Some of these were shops were robbed and the mob emptied goods there.
They started their attacks in full swing around 8.30 pm and continued for one long hour until 9.30pm. From 8.30pm onwards the mob moved into areas such as Kurunduwatta, Maha Hapugala, Welipitimodera, Ukwattha and Piyadigama to continue their attacks.
They attacked in the darkness and there were people pointing at Muslim houses and shops saying “meeka thmbigi ge, meka thambige kade’. While these attacks were continuing Muslims tried to contact the police. All their frantic efforts failed as there was no response.
According to Muslims in the area the mobs attacked two mosques, 34 houses, 13 shops and eleven vehicles.
Muslims in the area suspect that the absence of police till 9.30 pm gave the mobs sufficient time to continue their attacks on Muslim houses and shops. While the mob went on rampage the two buses which brought the mob were parked in the mainly Sinhalese areas.
Till the police arrived, Muslims in the area were at the mercy of mobs. Realizing the failure of police to come on time Muslim men gathered around the mosque to protect themselves. Muslims suspect that the mobs were hiding in the temple where the monk who refused peace talks live.
Some Muslims claim that they had seen police vehicles using head light which facilitated the attacks while other said that they had seen police vehicles moving slowly while the mob attacked Muslim owned properties. They didn’t make any attempt to stop the attack.
It appears that the racism, and racist politics had caused damage to the country. It was racist politics which divided communities and paved the way for the 30 year ethnic war which virtually destroyed the country’s economy, communal harmony, and political stability besides the killing innocent people from all communities.
Only this week, Tuesday 14, Leader of the House Minister Lakshman Kiriella said that the 30 year war might have cost Sri Lanka US Dollars 400 Billion. This is certainly a colossal amount of money which, if used for the development of the country, the country would be paradise in all respects today.
However what lessons we learnt.
Intensification of the disgusting racist politics since the end of the war in 2009 only point out that racist politicians and their mercenaries have not learnt any lesson and the country is bound suffer as we suffered in the past.