Given the present ‘tense’ situation in the country the upcoming Vesak Festival might have to be celebrated at home.
If we don’t send our children to school due to safety concerns then we do have serious issues regarding security in this country. But the Government authorities, including the prime minister, keep maintaining that the unhealthy situation that prevailed a few days ago has been brought under control.
Vesak is a festival which attracts the participation of folks practising all religions. We have heard of Christians in Negombo and Wattala areas, not forgetting Muslims in certain other parts of the country, taking the initiative to organise free meals for Vesak sightseers. It is very unlikely that these non-Buddhists would organise such events-known as Dansal in Sinhalese-this year.
The government has been quick to put up notices to convey the message that liquor shops will be closed from May 17-20 and that Monday (May 20) has been declared a public holiday. But people still don’t believe it when the government makes statements, in double quick time, to the fact the country’s volatile situation has been arrested.
The threat of extremist forces striking again looms large. This is because the government is keeping certain findings made during search operations under wraps. The Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) has requested media institutes not to publish photographs of swords and weapons which are found during raids citing that such visuals would drive panic into people.
People would embrace fear when information is blocked. This government fails to understand that blocking vital information from reaching people gives rumourmongers an opportunity to do the rounds. Parents of both schoolchildren and members of the adult working force end up worrying when their offspring get to know about an impending curfew- just hours away from being imposed-only when they board the buses, bikes and cars they travel in after work. This was what happened last Monday (May 12).
Members of these extreme groups are yet to strike after the Easter Sunday strikes and other minor incidents. But members of these extremists groups are not the only ones causing problems in the country. Now we hear of certain Sinhala groups-which are backed by saffron robed monks-sowing seeds of hatred. Members of these groups pose no lesser threat to the society when compared to the extremist, Groups which carried out the attacks on churches and hotels, recently.
For the record a group of Buddhist monks has recently visited the Acting IGP’s office and handed over a petition which contained many demands. Among them are the arrest of minister Rishad Bathiudeen and Eastern Province Governor Hisbulla. This group has stated in the letter that the security forces should take over the country if they were not allowed to take necessary actions.
No one should be allowed to take the law into their hands. The law should be equal to everyone. Quick arrests were made to apprehend those involved in the recent bombings. But very little has been done to put in their places the rioters who caused mayhem in villages like Kobeigane, Hettipola, Chillaw, Minuwangoda, Wariyapola, Katupotha and Kuliyapitiya. In some areas it has been reported that the police had been passively watching when the rioters demolished Muslim owned buildings in the above areas. There was also a recent newspaper report which stated that a suspicious looking individual, clad in an attire similar to that worn by the security forces, was seen loitering around and passively watching the riots in Thunmodara unfold. If investigations prove that he is an employee of the forces he would be severely punished. All is still not right yet because the premier has instructed the acting IGP to impose Police curfew when and where necessary.
Come this Saturday, Buddhist flags will flutter and the courages would visit the temple. The rest would remain at home and pray for peace to return to this country which for nine years enjoyed the bliss of living in a ‘country free of terrorism’.