Mannar is on fire. The eastern town was no better than a battlefield on Wednesday, when the unruly protesters pelted stones at the Mannar police and the courts complex, compelling the Police to disperse the crowds with tear gas. Six policemen including HQI’s of Mannar and Vavuniya have been injured during the clashes and the Mannar magistrate court was closed due to the damages caused by the protesters.
The situation hints of a conflict of more serious nature, which can result in horrendous consequences if not curbed in time.
The drama unfolded when the fisherfolk in the area wanted a group of fishermen who fled from Viddattaltivu during the war to return to their hometown. The latter, who were settled down in Uppukulam, did not want to go back for understandable reasons. However, it was not clear whether there was a standing arrangement to resend the fishermen in question, after the conclusion of war.
Incidents of such nature have the evil potential of instigating ethnic disharmony. Time and time again, history has showed that a flame at one end can set things on fire at the other end. Today, it is Mannar. Tomorrow it can be Pettah.
Meanwhile, work at all courts in the country came to a standstill on Friday due to a boycott by judges and lawyers in protest against the attack on Mannar Courts. Whether a counter protest is the ideal way to protest against a protest is another matter. The trend of damaging public properties and causing injury to public servants in the name of exercising the democratic right of protesting should not be tolerated at any rate.
Throughout history, when the so-called people’s representatives make hasty decisions, it was the judiciary that came into people’s rescue. Be it the Z-score muddle or an instance where the people’s right to information was violated, the court system in the country was bold enough to make sure that justice was on the side of people who were victimized by the incongruities. Hence, pelting stones at a courts complex is the last method in which one can show gratitude in return.
Whatever the reasons may be, people taking law into their hands should not be the standard way of meting out justice. The people are losing their right to point fingers at the rulers for their undemocratic practices; for they themselves behave no better than the underworld gangsters. Besides, to a country that had been on reverse gear due a quarter-century war, another conflict in the making is way too much to digest.
Democracy is not an exotic fertilizer that can be sprinkled on lawless societies; it is the citizenry of the country who has to plant it.