A six day funeral for CWC leader Arumugam Thondaman, the SLPP aligned upcountry politico has sparked outrage with thousands of people violating curfew and flouting social distancing regulations in the Hill Country and Colombo to pay respects with the police turning a blind eye to the fiasco.
According to official police figures more than 65,000 people have been arrested throughout the island for violating the quarantine curfew. Scores have been arrested for failing to wear face-masks outdoors since the quarantine ended.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Government has actively propagated the doctrine “one country-one law” through its private media wing and police department in response to calls to end the forcible cremation of Muslims even when they have not been diagnosed with coronavirus. Howls of protests by Muslims and activists over the use of the coronavirus crisis to crackdown on dissent and discriminate against minorities have been ignored by President Gotabaya and his team on the basis that all Sri Lankans must make sacrifices to battle the virus.
However Thondaman’s funeral has continued to draw large crowds in the plantations as the cortege travels from hill country station to station. The deceased politico’s son has also used the funeral procession to launch his political career from the sun-roof of a SUV. Thondaman Junior has already been replaced as the CWC candidate on the SLPP nomination list. In Kotagala a police car was seen escorting the procession which was a mass gathering in violation of quarantine regulations.
The Center for Monitoring Election Violence has lodged a formal complaint with the Elections Commission saying the funeral had been used by the SLPP replacement candidate as a campaign parade. The Elections Commission has been largely silent over multiple election violations taking place in the guise of fighting corona virus. When it does crack down on complaints, the Government reacts by blaming the Commission for the difficulty to distribute relief.
Meanwhile in a further display of blatantly discriminatory application of the law President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and Hambantota District MP Namal Rajapaksa visited historic Buddhist temples for Poson Poya ceremonies, proudly posting photos of the religious events on their official social media accounts. However all mosques remained shut for the Eid festival and an islandwide curfew has been declared on Poson Poya preventing the gathering of pilgrims at religious places.
Namal Rajapaksa took part in the Aloka Pooja at Tissamaharama Rajamahavihara on Saturday while President Gotabaya Rajapaksa participated in religious ceremonies at Somawathiya in Polonnaruwa. Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa attended religious ceremonies at the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy.
Social media users expressed outrage at how laws did not seem to apply to ruling party politicians and even their supporters while ordinary citizens continue to be inconvenienced and face arrest for quarantine violations. (By Janakie Mediwake)