In a country where multiple races and religions exist it is natural to have misgivings, tensions and even the eruption of violence. It is here that the prudent leadership and intervention of community leaders is essential to minimise harm, rather than that of politicians mostly hell-bent on exploiting situations.
"It is vivid that misgivings are the main cause, apart from the opportunistic policies of various political parties that had triggered many a tense situation and violent riots among communities. The political opportunism mostly thrives on misgivings among ethnic, racial and religious communities"
Hence the decision of the newly-formed Dhammadeepa Council to discuss with the Hindu clergy and Muslim Ulemas to form a strategy to overcome existing racial and religious tensions between various groups is no doubt a fulfilment of the aspirations of the people, though one may say it was belated.
The Council headed by the most venerable Mahanayake Theras of the three Nikayas and the Diyawadana Nilame of the Sri Dalada Maligawa met last week at the Dalada Maligawa to discuss present concerns over increased tensions between communities and announced that it was prepared to advise the President on a new approach to promote peace-building and harmony between and within communities.
Sri Lanka is home to several racial and religious communities that have lived amicably in the country for centuries despite a thirty-year bloody war instigated by politics of various groups. The amity between the families of different communities living side by side in villages and townships has been intact for centuries in spite of the said war, along with the intermittent relatively low-level tensions here and there and also country-wide violence involving ordinary people such as the 1983 riots.
However, the people, irrespective of cast, creed and religion have suffered dearly due to these civil commotions and the armed strife. Hence, it goes without saying that the country does not need any more blood-letting or destruction of properties.
Furthermore, the recent tensions between religious groups have given the opportunity for foreign forces to finger into the internal affairs of the country. For instance, the US-sponsored Resolution on Sri Lanka adopted last March at the UNHRC in Geneva had expressed concern over “discrimination on the basis of religion or belief.”
It is vivid that misgivings are the main cause, apart from the opportunistic policies of various political parties that had triggered many a tense situation and violent riots among communities. The political opportunism mostly thrives on misgivings among ethnic, racial and religious communities. The most cultured and accepted way of resolving problems by the leaders of communities is to put their heads together, as happened during the recent disturbances in Grandpass, to find out what went wrong and to arrive at amicable solutions.
However, any initiative taken by one side to tackle communal animosities would be looked at with suspicion by other communities. Hence, it is always prudent for the majority community to initiate any resolution as otherwise the suspicion of the majority community would be too serious and scuttle such initiatives. Therefore the move by the Mahanayake Theras of three Nikayas and the Diyawadana Nilame is timely and praiseworthy.