C owards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once. William Shakespeare, “Julius Caesar”,
(Act 2 scene 2)
Sadly, Shakespeare was proved wrong. The news about vandalizing the Mahatma Gandhi statue in a community hall in Jaffna, hits the newsrooms at a time when the state of safety in the country is constantly questioned.
It is reported that the statue was damaged on Sunday when a brawl broke out between two parties who had gathered there. According to the Jaffna police, the community hall has been a place where the residents come and take part in various sports activities while some others indulge in liquor.
In April this year, several statues in the Batticaloa town were vandalized in quick succession for reasons that are still unknown. Among the damaged were, the statues of Mahatma Gandhi, the founder of the World Scouts’ Movement, Lord Baden Powell, Swamy Vipulananthar and Palavarmani Periyathambipillai. What they did to deserve such horrid treatment many years after their demise, is a query that went unanswered.
If people could go to the extent of mutilating the statues of renowned personalities, erected in recognition of their services to the world and community, it hints of a an emerging generation of law-breakers, who would not spare even a lifeless object when it comes to satisfying their criminal instincts.
The fact that the perpetrators of the latest incident were drunk when it occurred is no justification. Be it the incident in Jaffna or those that occurred in Batticaloa a few months ago, they cannot be swept under the carpet that easily; for there is nothing spontaneous about vandalizing. Statues are not built with paper-pulp or clay, that with a simple touch of a rod, they could be razed to the ground. There is a dose of premeditation involved.
The degradation of morals and ethics among citizens of a country that boasts of a culture as ancient as twenty five centuries, at any rate, cannot be taken lightly. Whatever the motives behind such shameful actions, they should be vehemently condemned, and the wrong-doers should be brought to the book without delay. Prompt action by the law enforcement authorities,is needed to send out a clear message that damaging public property is not among the recommended anger management mechanisms. History screams aloud the sacred fact that, failing to do so, could see the trend spreading through the island in an uncontrollable manner.
In a country that has become extremely unsafe for children and women, the next set of victims who march to their doom should not be the national monuments. Robbers broke into the National Museum, situated in the heart of Colombo. Numerous Buddha statues and stupas in ancient temples are vandalized by the treasure-hunters. Tank bunds are dug in search of treasures.
Leave alone the living, they will throw their arms around to protect themselves in an incident of harassment. We should be ashamed of ourselves; for, in this country, not even a statue is safe anymore.
Trinco has a statue of the Mahatma in front of the sivan temple similar to the one at Madurai opposite the Meenachi temple .A single statue of Mahatmaji in an appropriate place instead of many in the peninsula is the best way to remember the great non violent religious who spearheaded the freedom in India
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