The vision of professional, independent journalism is to be the voice of the voiceless, weak and defenceless people. The Daily Mirror is happy that it has been able to fully play this role during the past two weeks regarding the horror and the terror that the people of Deraniyagala have been under going for the past 15 years.
According to editorials, news items and full - page feature articles published in the Daily Mirror, the reign of terror reached its worst proportions when Anil Champika Wijesinghe alias ‘Atha Kota’ was the Chairman of the Deraniyagala Pradeshiya Sabha. This alleged political criminal and his armed goon’ squads are being accused of being involved in several killings, rapes and gang rapes of women, thuggery, intimidation and brutal assault on people who did not carry out the orders of this political outlaw. Hundreds of villagers say this notorious Atha Kota claimed he had the patronage or protection of the Sabaragamuwa Province Chief Minister and his son.
The reign of terror hit national and international headlines when these political killer gangs brutally slew the Noori Estate’s veteran Superintendent Nihal Perera because he, though being 71-years-old, had courageously spoken out and acted against the political crimes. Mr. Perera was beaten up, his body slashed and his mouth cut with a pair of scissors before he was stripped and taken around the estate, apparently as a warning to those who dared to stand up against political thugs and speak out for the rule of law. What happened to the estate superintendent and hundreds of others in Noori Estate, Basnagala and surrounding villages is a shame to the Rajapaksa regime and the whole of Sri Lanka which has been blessed with a culture and civilisation based on the hallowed Buddha Dhamma for more than 2500 years.
With the Deraniyagala mayhem and days of demons continuing,the Officer-in-Charge of the Deraniyagala police station Inspector Tissa Gunathilake who was stationed there during the worst period of the terror, has been transferred. This has been done by the police Special Investigation Unit which has taken charge of the probe while the Police Special Task Force is maintaining security because the area police have been unwilling or unable to do their duty, and the people of the area have lost confidence in them.
The Noori Estate is managed by the Texas-based American company, Walters Bay International and this has prompted the US Embassy to express concern over what is happening in Deraniyagala, the apparent breakdown of the rule of law and inaction of the area police.
The Daily Mirror in its investigative splash on Tuesday and Thursday showed how the people of the area had written to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Prime Minister and the Defence Ministry several years ago pleading that action be taken to stop the terror and horror by these political thugs. But the villagers lament that though they got replies saying action would be taken, as usual it was a case of broken promises as the crisis became worse instead of better. It seems that the so-called law that prevails today is that if people are with the regime they could do almost anything and get away with it, otherwise, they would be intimidated, abducted or even arrested on frivolous charges. Deraniyagala is one of many cases where political thuggary prevails because of the breakdown of the rule of law, scrapping of the independent Police Commission and the serious damage done to the independence of the judiciary. Religious leaders and civic action groups must come out against the dictatorial trends, the lack of good governance, accountability and transparency.