Banners have come up near the Katuwapitiya Church with demands being made that the perpetrators of the Easter Sunday bombings be brought to book - Pix by Kithsiri de Mel
The blame game has continued ever since the incident and what has been revealed is termed as a ‘lapse’ in communication
President Rajapaksa in his Easter Sunday message affirmed that perpetrators will be prosecuted while Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa in an earlier instance appreciated the patience shown by the Christian community
Families of the deceased haven’t given up on God. They feel that their beloved children are with Jesus
Two years later, most parents and families of the deceased are awaiting justice while the trauma they suffered continues to be part of their lives
The Archbishop’s Fund received over Rs. 500 million and much of that was used to support a scholarship programme while housing was provided for some people living on rent
Two years after the Easter Sunday carnage people are left with false hopes and promises. Abrupt compensation schemes, commissions and reports have led to dead ends. Even after arresting 676 people in relation to the deadly series of attacks the government is yet to trace the mastermind. The blame game has continued ever since the incident and what has been revealed is termed as a ‘lapse’ in communication. Security has been beefed up ahead of April 21 and Archbishop Cardinal Malcom Ranjith has made some damning remarks against former President Maithripala Sirisena. President Rajapaksa in his Easter Sunday message affirmed that perpetrators will be prosecuted while Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa in an earlier instance appreciated the patience shown by the Christian community for bearing the trauma. But for how long that patience would last is the question without justice being served.
Diagnosis ticket of Thilina Harshani mentioning her injuries
Insufficient evidence for compensation
Lakmali Fernando’s house is located opposite the Katuwapitiya Church. Her elder daughter who’s employed at a salon had been dressing up the band members on the day of the incident. Since she was getting late for the ceremonial procession her younger daughter, who was 16 at the time, had left for the church. Minutes later they had heard a deafening sound.
“My daughter suffered a loss of hearing for about a month,” said Fernando. “Doctors claimed that her ear drum had rolled inwards due to the pressure. It took a few months to restore her hearing and there were some ear drops given as well. But when we filed a case requesting for compensation we received at letter from the church which stated that the evidence produced was insufficient to grant us compensation. Shouldn’t the Government be happy that people are living? How can they grant compensation by checking the intensity of the injury? Besides how can they compensate on the psychological trauma? This is ridiculous!,” she exclaimed.
Sayura Sathsara Silva (middle) and family
Getting used to a new life
“My son was to go to school the following day,” recalled Sayura Silva’s father Lasantha. “So I went to work because I wanted to buy a pair of shoes for my son. He didn’t want to go to church, but I insisted that he goes with his sister. Who would have known things would turn disastrous like this?” said Lasantha.
“His right hand is paralysed and he had to learn to write with his left hand. The letters he writes aren’t clear. He obtained 90 marks at the scholarship exam. But they didn’t grant him extra time. Because of the pandemic he couldn’t go for checkups and physiotherapy. So it will take time for him to recover. He cannot study for long periods and complains of headaches and fatigue,” added Lasantha.
Lasantha further said that they had received Rs. 500,000 in two installments. “They checked the intensity of the injury before compensating us. My daughter also suffered minor injuries. My son is now used to his new life. He walks with a limp and is not his previous self anymore. But for us it is a worrisome sight,” he said.
Nuts fixed to Sneha’s scalp now visible on her forehead
Sneha during treatments
Issues with treatment
Sneha Mindani was one of the critically injured victims of the Katuwapitiya blast. Having suffered serious injuries to her head her scalp had to be kept separately before being fixated onto her head. After months of treatments Sneha has been recovering while facing certain challenges.
“Six months ago her appearance started to deteriorate,” complained Senarath Milroy, Sneha’s father. “The nuts attached to the scalp are now jutting out and both sides now appear to have sunk in. We requested for compensation. She missed out on a lot of school work as well. She suffers from headaches when she studies. She cannot pick up anything that falls on to the ground.
“Prior to the blast Easter was a major celebration in this area,” he recalled. “It was a time where everybody got together. During Christmas even Buddhists used to light crackers. But after the blast it has now become a charm celebration. Nobody wants to have music. We cannot celebrate it like before. When we go to the church we revisit those gruesome memories,” he said.
Milroy further said that they have been awaiting justice for the past two years. “We aren’t asking for money. We want to know who did it. Even after a two year lapse the perpetrators are still free. Only my daughter knows the pain,” he added.
Thilina and her late son
Difficult to bear the loss
We then met Thilina Harshani, a mother of three who is now bedridden following severe injuries to her spinal cord. “I lost my youngest son during the blast. It’s difficult to bear the loss. You cannot completely forget your own son especially during his birthday,” she reflected.
The doctors have advised her to try standing up and doing simple exercises, but they aren’t sure when she would walk again.
However, they too have filed a case requesting compensation and are awaiting a date for the court hearing.
Mournings from Batticaloa
As many as fourteen children fell victim to the blast that took place at Zion Church while many others were critically injured. A year ago when we visited Batticaloa, the Zion Church was being renovated. However, families of the deceased haven’t given up on God. They feel that their beloved children are with Jesus. Two years later, most parents and families of the deceased are awaiting justice while the trauma they suffered continues to be part of their lives.
Kevin (Kulendraraja’s son who was nine years old when he succumbed to injuries from the attack)
Parents awaiting justice
For Kulendraraja from Batticaloa the 2019 Easter Sunday was not a day of hope in a Christian sense as his son died during the blast that occurred at Zion Church Batticaloa. “My son Kevin was nine years old when he died, and my two daughters too were injured. They have sight and hearing issues. But my daughters did not receive any compensation. We got Rs.1 million as compensation for my son’s death. My wife is still in shock and does not want to go to the Zion Church anymore. He said that through the Pastor in charge of the Zion church some governmental and non-governmental organisations had promised help in monetary terms or otherwise. But nothing had been done so far for my two daughters,” Kulendraraja.
Hamsiha (Surendar’s daughter)
Living with trauma
“My daughter was two years and nine months when she died,” recalled Surendar from Kalladi. “The Government granted us Rs. One million as compensation. Other than my daughter, I have a 10-year-old son. We were at the Church when the attack took place. It was on April 1, 2018 that my daughter was baptised. We haven’ recovered from the trauma still. That’s why we urge the government to prosecute those who were responsible for the attack. The trauma of the incident has not left us yet. What we expect is justice for the dead. There are a lot of people who were affected by the Easter Sunday attack and seek justice for the dead and the injured,” they said.
Late Meruja (Chandrika’s son)
Determined to move forward in life
Chandrika lost her husband Sashi Kumar and son, Merujan to the Easter attack at Zion Church. “I have a ten-year-old daughter who is sitting for the scholarship exam this year. My husband and son were outside the church when the suicide bomber blasted himself. My husband tried to prevent the suicide bomber from entering the church, but the suicide bomber blasted himself leaving many dead. Even we weren’t allowed to see the bodies of my husband and the son. The Government granted us Rs. 1 million for each dead person. Though the Government has started helping to build the house they have not given us the full amount. The Government gives us money from time to time. Therefore, the house is still being built,” said Chandrika.
Archbishop’s Fund dying up
The Archbishop’s Fund received many donations following the Easter Sunday attack. These have been distributed among affected families under various avenues. When inquired, Fr. Lawrence Ramanayake, Director of Seth Sarana-Caritas, the social service arm of the Archdiocese of Colombo said that almost all families have received compensation.
Rs. One million was given to families of deceased while Rs. 500,000 has been given to those who have suffered injuries. This has been given by the Government. But we have supported them for their medical needs, income generation, psychosocial needs, paying school fees and other requirements
Fr. Lawrence Ramanayake Director of Seth Sarana-Caritas
“Rs. One million was given to families of deceased while Rs. 500,000 has been given to those who have suffered injuries. This has been given by the Government and from our side we haven’t given a cent as compensation. But we have supported them for their medical needs, income generation, psychosocial needs, paying school fees and other requirements.” said Fr. Ramanayake.
“We have three areas of service including counseling, spiritual services and social support. Under social support we provide them with immediate support, support them to get on with their day-to-day activities, look in to their medical needs, solve legal issues, fund for scholarship programmes, settle loans and also provide housing,” he said.
Fr. Ramanayake further said that they are supporting critically injured patients with the support of the Government. “They are being sent to the Sri Jayewardenepura Hospital for treatments. We have provided nurses for critically injured mothers,” he said.
The Archbishop’s Fund has received over Rs. 500 million and the audit is almost complete. “Around 90% of the Fund is over; mainly due to the scholarship programme. We have also provided housing for some people who have lived on rent. Accordingly we have built seven attic houses in Ganemulla for seven families that were affected by the Kochchikade blast. Another 33 houses are being built by the Government. 14 houses are being built for affected families in Katuwapitiya,” said Fr. Ramanayake.
When asked why certain families have received letters saying there’s insufficient evidence to grant compensation Fr. Ramanayake said that a group of lawyers volunteered to file cases and ensure that justice is served to those who suffered from the carnage. “We only supported them with documentation work and provided them with information regarding the families,” said Fr. Ramanayake.
Doctors claimed that her ear drum had rolled inwards due to the pressure. It took a few months to restore her hearing and there were some ear drops given as well. But when we filed a case requesting for compensation we received at letter from the church which stated that the evidence produced was insufficient to grant us compensation -
My husband tried to prevent the suicide bomber from entering the church, but the suicide bomber blasted himself leaving many dead. Even we weren’t allowed to see the bodies of my husband and the son. The Government granted us Rs. 1 million for each dead person”
The nuts attached to the scalp are now jutting out and both sides now appear to have sunk in. We requested for compensation. She missed out on a lot of school work as well. She suffers from headaches when she studies. She cannot pick up anything that falls on to the ground
- Senarath Milroy
Leo Wednesday, 07 April 2021 08:45 AM
Part of the perpetrators are in Parliament. The Rajapakse government will not touch them as they are needed for the Rajapakse regime to obtain the Muslim vote base. None of the politicians care about the injured or the dead. Keep this up "Vengeance is Mine Declares the Lord" Romans 12:19
Faqir Hussain Friday, 23 April 2021 01:25 PM
Give the perpetrators the same justice that they gave the victims. End of story.
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