June 20, 2014, 9:11 pm
Prabhakaran is long dead and his mindless violence is a thing of the past. But, the country is not yet free from terrorism as has been seen from Sunday’s violence. Close on the heels of anti-Muslim attacks in Alutgama and Beruwala has come a dastardly assault on a Buddhist monk—not by non-Buddhists but by a group in yellow robes, according to the victim.
Ven. Watareka Vijitha Thera was abducted, assaulted and dumped on a road in the early hours of Thursday. Prior to the attack he had complained to the police that his life was in danger following an incident where he was threatened by the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), which also disrupted a multi-religious event he was attending. Subsequently, he was roughed up in public. Two policemen assigned to protect him were withdrawn about two weeks before Thursday’s incident. Why was he deprived of security in spite of threats to his life? An explanation is called for.
Ironically, the trigger for Sunday’s organised violence on Muslims was an attack on a Buddhist monk allegedly by some Muslim youths who were arrested and remanded. Violence broke out following a BBS protest in Alutgama against that attack a few days later. But, mum’s the word on the part of the self-appointed defenders of Buddhism on the brutal attack on Vijitha Thera. Why?
Is it that the mad men who indulge in ethnic violence, claiming to champion the Sinhala-Buddhist cause, have a special licence to harm dissenting monks who oppose their ethno-religious extremism?
Vijitha Thera is a UPFA member at the Mahiyangana Pradeshiya Sabha, but, surprisingly, no government bigwig has cared to visit him in hospital!
Attempts are being made in some quarters to vilify Vijitha Thera in a bid to justify violence against him. One may not subscribe to his political ideology, but one agrees with him on the need for protecting the rights of all communities, big or small. Those who harmed him must be brought to justice immediately. A few weeks ago a group of monks stormed a ministry looking for him. If the police interrogate those intruders they may get a lead on Thursday’s incident.
The police lost no time in tracing the leader of a criminal gang which abducted two traffic policemen in Kurunegala and shot one of them dead recently. The suspect died in police custody. The police should be able to nab those responsible for Thursday’s attack equally fast.
Some of the self-styled patriots responsible for Sunday’s violence against Muslims once used brutal LTTE attacks on Muslim villages and mosques to justify their call for military action against Prabhakaran, and wept buckets for the hapless victims. Today, in the southern parts of the country in peacetime they are doing what the LTTE did to the Muslims in the North and the East!
The Muslims in Alutgama and Beruwala as well as elsewhere must be feeling as insecure as their brethren were in the so-called ‘border villages’ when Prabhakaran was around.
Anti-Muslim violence could have been nipped in the bud if action had been taken when the BBS started aggressive protests opposite shops owned by Muslims. But, the police looked the other way. Mobs graduated from protests to attacks on properties. Still, the police didn’t do much to rein them in. The victims were made to reach out-of-court settlements with the perpetrators! Now, the fanatics have begun to destroy lives.
It is high time the government ordered a crackdown on the psychos responsible for the Alutgama/Beruwala violence as well as the attack on Vijitha Thera. The time has come for ridding the country of all forms of terrorism, regardless of the causes the perpetrators flaunt, so that the members of all communities, religious, ethnic or otherwise, will be able to live as equal citizens in peace and harmony.
By courtesy: The Island
NB: Highlights are mine