By Arun Kumaresan –
A social media post depicts the three images of Prabakaran in LTTE camouflage, Mr Sambanthan and former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapksa with an additional word ‘charged’. It is interesting to see how a Tamil politician being the leader of the opposition irks the mind set of some.
First question baffles any rational minded person is to why the Rjapaksa government did not have similar emotions – as what they now feel in seeing GR being charged – when they thought it fit to drag a war hero, now Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka to custody in most uncivilized way and later landed him in the Welikada jail to serve a term of imprisonment. The method he was ashamed to face a court martial headed by junior military officers epitomized the vindictive mindset of the then rulers. Even for the worst critic of the Field Marshal acknowledges that; if not for his ruthless leadership, the SL Army would not have moved forward. If Field Marshal can be jailed, why not a charge be bought against the then Defence Secretary, who will have every chance to defend himself, unlike the Kangaroo courts the Field Marshal had to face and cope with.
In Rajapaksa era political arena there was room and space to the former LTTE Eastern commander who was behind ruthless atrocities against the armed forces and police. The famous among them was terrorists under him were ordered to kill 600 odd surrendered policemen. He was made a minister and a Vice President of SLFP. Eyebrows were raised when in 2010 or 2011 at SL Army Officers end of the year get together; he arrived along with the then Defense Secretary as a special guest and did his famous dance balancing a glass filled with liquor on his head.
Another person deserves mention is the EPDP leader Douglas Devananda who too became a powerful minister both in the CBK and Rajapaksa governments. He too was a terrorist and led a multi faceted criminal entity during the period as the cabinet minister. May be the above two may have had the privilege based on the rationale ‘enemy’s enemy is our friend’ but the fact remains they were acceptable to the southern mind set irrespective of being ruthless terrorists unlike the current Leader of the Opposition .
Then we have a party named as JVP. They too were a terrorist outfit as they terrorized the civil society both in 71 and 88/89 periods. Unfortunately, Osama Bin Laden era was post 2002; thus making them to escape the tag of a terrorist organization. They too killed and maimed armed forces and police personnel and also many civilians. But the JVP is acceptable to the southern mind set and no one raises the question how Mr Anura Kumara Dissanayake could be Chef Opposition Whip.
Hence the producers and supporters of the social media clip should be more forth rite in their views as it clearly emanates from the mindset issue of a Sri Lankan of Tamil ethnic origin becoming the Leader of the Opposition. Firstly, TNA claimed the right to hold the office of Leader of the Opposition as they were the largest political entity in the opposition. In the event JVP had one seat more than TNA, this would not have been an issue as JVP would have claimed it. This is the way Westminster model of parliamentary democracy functions and Mr Sambathan did not receive this appointment as a gift or at the benevolence of Yahapalnya government. If the persons mentioned above can be cabinet ministers and JVP is seen as an acceptable political entity, Mr Sambanthan has the utmost credibility to hold this elated office.
A person being charged for a purported violation of law, irrespective of his/her status needs to face the due process under the law. Unfortunately, such practices were not in vogue during the former era, as we saw how a political tug in Tangalle was protected after and raping a foreigner murdering her partner. It was only after much pressure from the British government, a trial was held and was given a surprisingly a lesser sentence of only 20yrs for the heinous act of two crimes on two individuals; murder and rape.
There is a urgent need for our nation to move towards the concept of a secular society. Towards this, ethnicity and religion needs to take a back seat in public life. Our neighbor India stands as a great testimony of a functioning secular nation that makes even many a western nation to envy. Religion and other sub cultures come second whilst emotions of being Indian supersede it by miles. This was clearly seen in 2005; when a Tamil Muslim was India’s President and Commander in Chief whilst Sikh was the Prime Minister. Both their ethnicities were numerical minorities .In contrast, the leader of the Opposition during this period was ethnically from the majority Hindi belt. Coincidently, the Indian Army Chief too was of Sikh ethnicity in the same period. In true spirit of a secular society these were never an issue in Indian political and public life.
Hence, connecting the Leader of the Opposition issue to correlate with a judicial process only shows the attempts by groups with vested interests to create emotions to scuttle the later. Such acts only harm the image of the former defense secretary and his attempt to defend and clear his name at a judicial forum.
As a close friend of the former regime recently told me referring to the crimes by the former regime in general said “ A person could have saved a women being washed away in a tsunami wave; that does not entail him the right to keep her in his house and rape and molest her and he was of the strong opinion that fraudsters needs to be brought to justice”. Wrong is wrong may it be done by whoever; MR, MS, CBK, RW or GR!!!!!
Fortunately, India had a Mahatma Gandhi who unified the nation and gave the spirit and emotions and made India for Indians. The gratitude for what he did is seen in all important towns from North to South and East to West, where the main street in these towns is known as MG road. We did not have such a supreme statesmen but it is never too late and hope we under Yahapalanya regime achieve the concept secularism and create foundations for Sri Lankan nationalism in lieu of the Sinhala and Tamil nationalism that has divided us. If we can achieve this one day we too can have MS roads in all our major towns in Sri Lanka!!!!!