The time seems rife for the Muslim community to come out of their self-imposed isolation and join hands with constructive forces to ensure community welfare
What had happened in Digana on March 4 (Sunday) was a crime committed on an Sinhalese lorry driver by three Muslims, alleged to have been under the influence of liquor, who were travelling in a three wheeler. It’s a matter for the law enforcement authorities to deal with culprits in keeping with the law of the land.
Instead Muslim owned businesses in and around the area were burnt during incidents which caused havoc. The Government should have known that emotions were running high during the funeral of this lorry driver and it was the duty of the authorities to prevent racists from implementing their evil agenda targeting Muslims in the area.
The failure of the Government to take timely precautionary measures to prevent any untoward incident against Muslim business establishments sent a favourable message to racists. The presence of Buddhist monk Ven. Galagoda Atte Gnanasara Thera of Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) gave these racists another shot in the arm. The big question asked now is what this monk was doing there?
“There is no way that Muslims can defend themselves. First the STF comes and takes from Muslims whatever they have, including knives, to defend themselves. Then they attack the Muslims. During one incident they had entered a mosque and attacked those inside. Then they give racists a freehand to attack Muslims. Among them were women wearing helmets,” said a Muslim from Pallekelle. Some suspect that the Government allowed these attacks to take place with the view of diverting the country’s attention from the political crisis it is experiencing.
Racism no different
It is clear that the disastrous Maithri-Ranil Yahapalanaya racism is no different from the Rajapaksa racism. Mahinda Rajapaksa has to his credit Aluthgama, Beruwala and Dharga Town carnage while Maithri- Ranil have to their credit the carnage in Gintota, Ampara and now Digana.
With no lessons learned from the past, the country, it appears, is heading towards a disastrous future.
Earlier there were senseless attacks on an innocent imam of the Amara Mosque and Muslim owned business establishments, besides the burning of their properties. This has now become an ongoing affair.
Who are they?
There has been a pernicious campaign to whip up anti-Muslim sentiment among Sinhalese over the past few years. This includes the spreading of a canard that Muslim businesses are surreptitiously trying to sterilize Sinhalese customers using various means.
These mobs are no representatives of Buddhism nor the Sinhalese culture. They are mercenaries of local and foreign anti-Muslim forces. So far they have never attacked a gambling den, liquor shop or even sex industry parlors. During the past two weeks alone there were two major incidents - at Ampara and Digana, adjacent to Teldeniya. Speculation is rife that these attacks were organized with the connivance of the authorities. During the Gintota attacks too people accused the police of facilitating vandalism.
The question is who are these outsiders? Who is financing, organizing and dispatching them to destroy the country? In Ampara too the police was informed at 10.05 PM, but they arrived at the scene at 11.30 PM although they could have arrived within 15 minutes. Even after arriving at the scene they were not stopping or arresting the culprits, who were allowed to continue their attacks
Instead of taking the mob into custody they remanded the cashier of the hotel who was attacked by the mob. But the two suspects who were taken into custody were released on Friday 2 March 2018.
Minister Rajitha Senaratne has said that a person close to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa was behind the attacks in Ampara. It has become clear that this person has visited the area two days before the incident and established ties with the police. The minister said that moves are underway to conduct an impartial probe to investigate the efforts made by police to cover up the incident.
Neither President Maithripala Sirisena nor the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe thought it fit to make a statement. Instead of visiting Amapara Premier Wickremasinghe, who is also Law and Order Minister, left for Singapore on Friday to address a conference.
Only after Muslim ministers made representations did Wickremasinghe give assurance that the attacks in Ampara and the decision of the police to release the culprits on bail will be investigated into.
The delegation of Muslim ministers pointed out that police had been party to these attacks and the community is losing confidence in the law enforcement officers.
Perhaps President Sirisena didn’t want to upset the Sinhala vote banks.
There is a general feeling that President Sirisena has abandoned the Muslim community and hob knobs with racist elements who were responsible for such attacks during the previous regime.
The irony is that these type of incidents are happening at a time when the country is experiencing its worst ever political, economic and social crises and ethnic tension which all have the ingredients to tear apart the country.