iven the questions posed by almost all non-Muslims, except for a few on the mass resignation by the Muslim Ministers, State Ministers and a Deputy Minister on June 3 in the wake of Parliamentarian Athureliye Rathana Thera’s fast unto death, it is clear that they are not in a position to put themselves in the shoes of the Muslims.
They ask why all Muslim Ministers should resign when the fasting monk’s demand was the resignation of three Muslim politicians.
Some interpret the mass resignation by three Muslim Cabinet Ministers (Except for Rishad Bathiudeen), three State ministers and a Deputy Minister as a racialist approach to protect some of the members of their community accused of espousing terrorism.
Some others view it as a show of unity by the Muslims at a time some of them were in hot water. Another interpretation of the mass resignation by the Muslim Ministers is that it is an acknowledgement by them that they too have skeletons in their cupboards. Simply, all these are negative views.
Anybody could arrive at such a conclusion only after proving the allegations against former provincial governors Azath Salley and M.L.A.M. Hizbullah and former minister Rishad Bathiudeen who were accused of being supporters of terrorism.
However, prior to Rathana Thera’s fast in the vicinity of the Sri Dalada Maligawa in Kandy between May 31 and June 3, nobody had complained to the police, the CID or the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) armed with tangible evidence against the above-mentioned three Muslim politicians.
On June 3, the day that the Muslim ministers resigned en-masse, Minister Mano Ganesan had inquired from the CID whether it had received any complaints against the trio. Mr. Ganesan had told the media the next day that CID Chief, Senior DIG Ravi Seneviratne and CID Director Shani Abeysekara had informed him that they had received some complaints but they were so flimsy sans any evidence while some were based on hearsay that it was not worth questioning the politicians, leave alone arresting them.
Ven. Rathana Thera stopped his fast after Central Province Governor Maithri Gunaratne showed him the copies of the resignation letters of the two Governors who were in the midst of the controversy, but before any word reached the monk about the resignation of Mr. Bathiudeen, against whom there were the most number of allegations.
After the fast ended the government appointed a three-member committee comprising senior police officers to entertain complaints against the three politicians. It was reported the by Wednesday, the last day to receive complaints, the committee had received 21 complaints, of which 11 were against Mr. Bathiudeen. Many of the complaints were not related to terrorism, but to financial irregularities. Interestingly, Ven. Rathana Thera, who risked his life demanding that they should resign, was not among the complainants.
Nevertheless, nobody can give an assurance that any person had or has links with the terrorists who without any compunction killed more than 250 Christian worshippers and hotel guests including children on Easter Sunday, the holiest day for Christians the world over. Yet, nobody should be accused of having terrorist links without tangible evidence because it would endanger his or her life.
- They ask why all Muslim Ministers should resign when the fasting monk’s demand was the resignation of three Muslim politicians
- The investigations into the past and im The investigations into the past and immediate causes of the April 21 attacks on churches and five-star hotels seems to have been seriously politicized
- After the fast ended the government appointed a three-member committee comprising senior police officers to entertain complaints against the three politicians
This was the stand taken by the Muslim leaders and also the Muslims community with regard to the allegations against the three politicians whom many are still gunning for. They were of the opinion that the allegations were a part of the anti-Muslim campaign started by certain Opposition parties and their media supporters.
The mass resignation of Muslim ministers cannot be understood by removing it from the larger context -- the widespread anti-Muslim campaign and the resultant fear psychosis among Muslims. The decision was taken at a time when the countrywide anti-Muslim riot was about to break out following the demonisation and vilification by the media and the members or the Opposition of Muslims and Islam which reached a climax with the fast by the Ven. Rathana Thera and the ultimatum thrown out to the government by the Ven. Galagodaaththe Gnanasara Thera.
Had the media and the Opposition parties not pursued the ordinary Muslims in this manner, the main focus of the country by now would have been on identifying the remnants and the ideology of the terrorists and on the culprits who had allowed the heinous crimes against the innocent Christians on the Easter Sunday. Now, hardly anybody could be found in the country who is genuinely interested in identifying the remnants of the terrorists or containing their ideology or finding those who allowed the crime to happen, despite intelligence reports with specific details of the Easter Sunday attacks having been received.
Muslims now seem to be not much concerned about the extremists among them as the concern over their safety and the dignity of their faith have taken precedence.
The investigations into the past and immediate causes of the April 21 attacks on churches and five-star hotels seems to have been seriously politicized with President Maithripala Sirisena appointing a committee headed by Justice Vijith Malalgoda, a sitting Supreme Court Judge, while Speaker Karu Jayasuriya appointed a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC), an idea mooted by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, to look into the matter.
"Ven. Rathana Thera stopped his fast after Central Province Governor Maithri Gunaratne showed him the copies of the resignation letters of the two Governors who were in the midst of the controversy, but before any word reached the monk about the resignation of Mr. Bathiudeen, against whom there were the most number of allegations"
The committee appointed by the President handed over its report to him on Monday, but he is yet to act upon it or at least present it to Parliament or make it public. The PSC has created a crisis situation where the country is heading towards an administrative impasse, a situation worse than the one created on October 26 last year when former President Mahinda Rajapaksa was appointed Prime Minister. The President is threatening not to convene the Cabinet unless the proceedings of the PSC are stopped while the Speaker and the UNP are adamantly arguing that the Executive cannot dictate terms to the Legislature.
The evidence given before the PSC by IGP Pujith Jayasundera, who is currently on compulsory leave, Hemasiri Fernando, who resigned as the Defence Secretary over the developments after the Easter Sunday attacks and National Intelligence Chief DIG Sisira Mendis were startling. They point to the irresponsible and childish attitude on the part of the political leadership and the bureaucracy of the country that is responsible for national security. One would wonder why the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) and the joint opposition leaders are making a big fuss against the PSC instead of being concerned over these blunders which had led to the catastrophe.
The bureaucracy responsible for national security seems to be attempting to absolve themselves by betraying the political leadership of the country. They attempt to drive home that their responsibility ends where they had shared the information of the impending attacks on churches with some of the other relevant officials. However, it is now clear they too did not take action to mobilize the defence mechanism under them to prevent the attack or minimize the damage, for which they need no political sanction.
There are so many such unanswered questions raised even by the laymen. They have to be answered and the only forum at hand for the purpose is the PSC. The argument that the PSC might expose the intelligence officials is not so strong, as the top officials of the defence establishment know their limitations. They are even known to attend overseas seminars and meetings.
However, the whole country led by Opposition and certain media are in pursuit of a perceived enemy. Since the motive is political the situation might last at least until the end of the presidential election.