Different political effects in Past & present

4 November 2015 06:30 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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he police had incurred blame on the excessive use of force in the past to disperse and to control crowds, no matter whether they were university students, workers or the general public, up against perceived injustices by the incumbent governments.  Yet, when the police resorted to a violent course of action on students reading for Higher National Diploma in Accountancy (HNDA) at the Sri Lanka Institute of Advanced Technology (SLIAT), it created fresh challenges   for the present Government in the political front. The previous rule was also subjected to scathing criticism by the then Opposition when the police baton charged and tear gassed    during various uprisings. But, it was not politically devastating as such for the then Government due to the circumstances that prevailed at that time.  

 For the present Government, the attack on HNDA students is something  more politically damaging as it was elected on a plank to uphold such democratic rights of the people. 

 Stifling democratic freedom, involving right to lawful assembly and protest to win over rights, was in fact a major allegation against the then Government.   The
 
present set of ruling politicians, then in the Opposition, sought a mandate from the people to end what they called ‘atrocities and tyrannical trend’. 

The importance of this right, enshrined in democratic principles, was highlighted repeatedly in soliciting public support against the rule of President Mahinda Rajapaksa whose hands were tainted with the allegations of atrocities against uprisings, particularly after the deaths of a garment factory worker and a fisherman in clashes with the police during protests. In this backdrop, the police, laying a violent hand on HNDA students, did not conform to the mandate it received by the Government. As a result, it has been afflicted with political criticism. The Opposition took advantage of the incident and picked a slogan to make an affront to the Government. It is crafting political rhetoric against the rule.

The Government, in fact, was in a predicament in this case, and tried to allay criticism levelled against it by appointing committees at various levels to investigate whether the police have used excessive force in dispersing the protesting crowd of students on November 1.  Before any finding is announced formally by these committees, the Opposition has enough fodder against the Government as the video footages clearly show how a female student is baton charged and manhandled by a police officer during the melee.

The police, clamping down violently on legitimate public uprisings, cannot be condoned at any cost.  But, incidents of this nature have been common right throughout whatever party was in power. Equally common, was blowing up such assaults for political mileage by the party in the Opposition against the party at the helm of affairs at a given time. What unfolds in the aftermath of the attack on HNDA students is a similar scenario. But, the effect is serious to the Government as the incident goes fully against what it preached on right to assembly and to protest, during its days in the Opposition. It is more so as the Government boasts of restoring democracy in the country, even winning the accolade of the international community. In that context, the incident is bound to sully the image of the Government. That may have been the reason that prompted even Foreign Affairs Minister Mangala Samaraweera to issue a statement condemning the incident in its immediate aftermath.



Protest unwarranted

Higher Education and Highways Minister Lakshman Kiriella has a different story in this respect.  He said the protest was unwarranted as his Ministry was taking steps to recognize HNDA as a qualification equivalent to a university degree in applying for a job in the Sri Lanka Accountancy Service. 
He said the Cabinet paper was to be approved in this regard yesterday.  
Alongside, he said it was unreasonable to blame the attack on the Government as the police were under the Independent Police Commission.  
Be that as it may, even a police attack on a protesting crowd is a serious political topic in today’s context. The Minister acted under compelling circumstances to sort out the students’ grievances forthwith.



Sampanthan now raises issues concerning people in south 

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leader R. Sampanthan   is noted for making speeches in Parliament on the grievances of Tamil people in the north and the east.  He hardly made any statement on any issue concerning people in the south in the past.   But, on Tuesday, he raised a question on the attack on HNDA students as the Opposition Leader assigned with a greater role. 
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, whom the question was directed at, looked at it positively, and said Mr. Sampanthan was raising his voice for the benefits of both the north and the south then.



Young MPs in China 

 Now, the UPFA group, backing him, is trying to win back Muslims. For that, a novel strategy is to be worked out.  In this task, the allies such as Democratic Left Front and Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) are to be assigned fresh roles to solicit the support of Muslims who were once with the party.
 





Nexus between IUSF  and UPFA group in Opposition?   

The Inter University Students’ Federation (IUSF) staged a protest march on Tuesday. Initially, there were plans by students to force their way   into the parliamentary complex. 

 The UPFA MPs in the Opposition were eager to welcome if students led their march into the parliamentary complex.  But, the security authorities sensed this attempt in advance and barricaded all the entrances to the parliamentary complex. 

Now, everyone has begun to think whether there is a nexus between the students’ wing and the UPFA group for political reasons.    
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