In as much as we expressed our gratitude and appreciation to the members of our Intelligence Services, Armed Forces, Police and the STF for the effective and efficient manner in which they carried out search operations, arrested the suspects and seized their weapons caches, we also take some space today to express our gratitude and appreciation to the residents, who also risking their lives, informed the law enforcement agencies of any suspicious activities in their neighbourhood. The securities forces are unable to carry out their operations in a vacuum. They need the help and support of the people to be their eyes and ears.
Last week we read of a Kattankudy Traffic Police Constable who was promoted to the rank of Sergeant. He and another constable were awarded Rs.500,000 each while two Muslims in the area were awarded Rs.1 million each. They received these awards for providing information on the terrorist hideout at Sainthamaruthu in Kattankudy where some 15 suspects were killed in bomb explosions during a shootout with the security forces.
We are aware that terrorists the world over use the strategy of instilling fear as one of the main psychological weapons in their campaign of terror and as such by continuing to remain indoors cowed down by fear and intimidation is to give the terrorists the satisfaction that they have succeeded in spreading hatred, division and suspicion among the various communities in Sri Lanka.
Not only were several innocent lives lost and several others wounded on Easter Sunday’s bomb attacks, it had also badly dented our economy, which was gradually improving though much hard work still remained before achieving a full recovery
The reopening of schools on Monday in the wake of assurances by Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam that adequate protection and security would be provided to all schools that reopened is one step on the difficult path of returning to normality all the while trusting the security forces to be vigilant and proactive in preventing any untoward incidents. We also heard about the Police curfew imposed in the Negombo Police Division on Sunday night and lifted the next morning when an isolated incident had resulted in a flare up among two groups but thankfully the armed forces and the police who were immediately deployed in the area managed to bring the emotionally-charged situation under control.
We have mentioned this before and do so again and again about the need to be alert and watchful so that we do not to fall prey to the insidious methods adapted by mischief makers, rumour mongers and those with vested interest to disseminate fake news and add fuel to simmering embers instead of doing whatever they could to calm and stabilise the situation.
Not only were several innocent lives lost and several others wounded on Easter Sunday’s bomb attacks, it had also badly dented our economy, which was gradually improving though much hard work still remained before achieving a full recovery. We read in the media of a Swiss Air Flight to Sri Lanka with only a single passenger reminding us of the uphill task of restoring the confidence among tourists that Sri Lanka is now safe. One way of doing this is for us to return to work without allowing fear to overpower us.
At a trying time such as this, we need to underscore the fact that in our efforts to identify and isolate Islamic fundamentalists, extremists and terrorists we need to make sure that we do not alienate our mainstream, peace-loving Muslim brethren, who had long been an important segment of the Sri Lankan community, if otherwise the resultant damage would be enormous. Meanwhile, taking into account the plea, by our religious leaders, for peace and reconciliation among all communities, the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, an Italian Catholic friar, deacon and preacher, is worth contemplating upon and more importantly, like he did making it a part of our lives. The message, encapsulated in the prayer, is so down-to-earth, yet so sublime and transformational. He prayed thus:
“Lord make me an instrument of Thy peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light and where there is sadness joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; for it is in giving that we receive and it is in pardoning that we are pardoned.”