By Arjuna Seneviratne –
If a dog lives its life in a specific area, had been doing so for years, is properly cared for, neutered when necessary, fed, watered and sheltered, is at least content if not downright happy, provides contentment and happiness to its primary caregivers, that dog is not footloose or set astray. It is a factor, a component, a definite entity of a larger social order, habitat if you may, where it has its place, has its role. If that habitat is a small apartment, annexure or home, then the alpha-dog of that space, in most cases a human will be responsible for the dog and will look after it and take responsibility for it. If it is a much larger space such as the premises of J’Pura University, occupied by a large number of human beings hailing from various places for various reasons, then alpha-dog is not a person sitting in some high chair but rather, a collection of those that look out for that dog. If decisions have to be made about that dog, then it is those caregivers who should make those decisions not someone far removed from any idea of such matters as habitats, definition of strays or ideas of social-anthropology, animal domestication or institutional culture. Those decisions cannot be made by an unqualified, intellectually vacant, socially bereft apology for a human being. Such decisions cannot be made by people like the Vice Chancellor of J’Pura university. He has no clue, therefore, he has no say. He cannot understand and will never understand that the dog population of all of our universities form an integral part of the portal, has been so for decades and are pets to a large number of students and teachers and by no means strays.
Yet, this man has taken it upon himself to give strange definitions for what constitutes strays, vermin and pests. He has decided, contrary to every definition of canines, that they are pests akin to cockroaches and termites. Things that need to be crushed underfoot or gassed out. Therefore, he decides in his maladjusted mind, to hire a terminator, a pest controller to exterminate the dog population of the J’Pura campus. Just as much as he doesn’t know how many termites are eating away at his books, he has no clue how many dogs there are. He only knows that they need to be sprayed with sarin or worse. There were 83 dogs a month ago. 30 of them have been murdered by a pest controller. If he wanted the dog population of the university wiped out he didn’t succeed. Instead he only succeeded in performing illegal, extra-judicial action that brought out a storm of grief and protest from all parts of the country. The outpouring of shock and horror was akin to sentiments expressed across the world at the extermination of human beings in Syria recently. This madman doesn’t understand that what he caused to be done to the dogs at J’Pura was no different to what was caused to be done to human beings in Syria. According to eyewitness reports, the dogs started vomiting, foaming at the mouth, losing consciousness in the same way, with the same suffering, over the same period of time as the human beings in Syria.
The students fought back, hard, on behalf of their beloved pets and they did it right. Even as they sobbed their hearts out that a pregnant bitch they had been caring for had been poisoned to death, they asked the careless, vicious, heartless, soulless, lawless VC for a meeting. He ignored them. They went to the police. They wrote to the papers. They campaigned on social media. They invoked every relevant law, directive and circular to protect the canines that were still left. Their voice could not be stilled and it was taken up by the larger populace of this country full of the followers of the Buddha and Lord Shiva to whom such action constitutes nothing less than murder.
This man has and will continue to try to use political clout to still the inquiry or, if possible, go against the very grain of governance and skew the findings of the inquiry that is being currently conducted. As I write, not only as a follower of the Buddha’s Dharma, a humanist, an ahimsaavaadi, a social activist, a musician, an environmentalist, an anthropologist, a corporate strategist, a mathematician and a lecturer, but also as an active member of the National Consumer Movement of Sri Lanka and a promoter of His Excellency the President’s campaign for a sustainable Sri Lanka where the sanctity of all sentient life is one of the priorities and for whom this sort of irrational, illegal behavior is anathema, so too, many others have taken up the righteous voice of these children and converted it into a roar that no amount of political clout can still. This man will be held accountable. This man will be persecuted. This man will pay for his crimes against life.