By Lal Wickrematunge –
Today, the 5th of April 2014, marks Lasantha’s birth 55 years ago. Five birthdates have come and gone and his family, friends and colleagues still remember Lasantha with affection. Is the pain less for those near and dear to him, after a lapse of five years? I say… No.
Many changes have taken place in Sri Lanka during the past five years and it is natural to wonder what impact, if any, Lasantha would have made, had he been alive. Most certainly he would have had plenty to say and say he would have aired his views, with a vengeance. Would he have influenced change or made a difference? He may have. He may not have.
In hindsight, I believe he would have been murdered nevertheless for what he stood for. It was a time when there was no space in Sri Lanka for someone like Lasantha. By not bringing those responsible to court, it is justifiable to believe that Lasantha was a “common enemy” and not worthy of bother in the bigger scheme of things.
Lasantha lived news and what could be termed “of politics”. His Suranimala column was digested with coffee by his readers on a Sunday morning. I am aware that many were stung by his exposures. One businessman, who thrived on government contracts and armament supplies, gloated over his murder. His exact words? “He was killed like a dog on the streets…Damn Good”. He did not know Lasantha but was stung by what he wrote. I felt sad that a human being could condemn another’s right to life, purely for monetary gain. But I digress.
Lasantha was not right all the time. Nor was he wrong. But he should have been afforded a full and natural life. He would have enjoyed his three children. He would have watched Sri Lanka reach the finals of the T 20 World Cup. He would have enlightened us each Sunday. But mostly, our elected legislators and bureaucrats would have been kept on their toes.
Was it such a crime that he had no right to life? More so, should the perpetrators and those who ordered his murder continue to be shielded for some incomprehensible reason? They too have had five birthdates since his death!!
Insiders say that the decision makers who order the termination of perceived trouble makers, may not see eye to eye after the deed but continue nevertheless to safeguard the foot soldiers who carry out such instructions.
It’s time for Sri Lanka to give Lasantha a birthday present. Bring those responsible for his murder to court. The Police can. Someone just needs to give the order.