INGO cal­cu­lates colos­sal dam­age Govt. strug­gling to fig­ure out the losses

Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka) - - NEWS FEATURE - By Piyumi Fon­seka

Eth­nic ri­ots in Sri Lanka have re­sulted in tan­gi­ble costs to the coun­try

@Piyu­mi_­fon­seka on Twit­ter

Vi­o­lence in­flamed by racism and ex­trem­ism make the in­di­vid­ual and the so­ci­ety as a whole in­cur heavy costs. De­spite Sri Lanka, hav­ing learned through un­pleas­ant ex­pe­ri­ences re­lat­ing to in­ter-com­mu­nity vi­o­lence since at least the late 19th cen­tury, the coun­try is still wit­ness­ing in­creas­ing ethno-re­li­gious ten­sions. Eth­nic ri­ots in Sri Lanka have re­sulted in tan­gi­ble costs to the coun­try with re­gard to med­i­cal and mental health care ex­penses, lost pro­duc­tiv­ity, prop­erty dam­age of vic­tims and in in­tan­gi­ble costs be­cause of re­duced qual­ity of life, pain, and suf­fer­ing of the af­fected com­mu­ni­ties. Mark­ing an­other black day in the his­tory of Sri Lanka, the or­gan­ised mob attacks were re­ported in Ku­rune­gala and Gam­paha dis­tricts on May 13 in a bru­tal re­tal­i­a­tion over the al­leged in­volve­ment of the ISIS ter­ror­ists and a group of lo­cal ex­trem­ist Mus­lims in the Easter Sun­day attacks.

Flashback to the 2018 Kandy ri­ots

For the Sri Lankan Mus­lim com­mu­nity – less than 10% of the pop­u­la­tion – this isn’t the first time they have had to deal with such a hos­tile back­lash. In March last year, the ugly head of racism rose its head in the sa­cred city of Kandy fol­low­ing a death of a 41-year-old fa­ther of two, who suc­cumbed to head in­juries sus­tained dur­ing an as­sault.

Since the two par­ties in­volved in the in­ci­dent were from two dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ties – Bud­dhists and Mus­lims- sub­se­quently, the in­ci­dent turned into a wide­spread com­mu­nal clash. Reprisal attacks, which trig­gered off on March 5, set Di­gana and Teldeniya ablaze and con­tin­ued in sev­eral other ar­eas in Kandy. Dozens of shops were burnt down and a num­ber of houses and re­li­gious places was van­dal­ized caus­ing colos­sal dam­age.

Fol­low­ing the at­tack, four Min­istries - the Min­istry of Buddha Sasana, Min­istry of Posts and Mus­lim Re­li­gious Af­fairs, Min­istry of Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and Re­set­tle­ment and the min­istry of Dis­as­ter Man­age­ment -- were in­volved in the pay­ment of com­pen­sa­tion to­wards dam­ages caused dur­ing the un­rest in Kandy. This was in keep­ing with a de­ci­sion made by the Govern­ment on the in­struc­tions of Prime Min­is­ter Ranil Wickremesi­nghe. The Premier had di­rected that all prop­er­ties dam­aged should be fully re­ha­bil­i­tated within four months.

Even af­ter one year and two months the com­pen­sa­tion process hasn’t been com­pleted. Re­fer to info-graphic 1 which un­der­scores how the Govern­ment’s com­pen­sa­tion process for dam­ages of the 2018 Kandy ri­ots have been car­ried out so far.


The Divi­sional Sec­re­tary of Min­uwan­goda Lak­mini Ku­lathi­lake told the Daily Mir­ror that the first phase of data gath­er­ing in Min­uwan­goda area was com­plete. Ap­pli­ca­tion forms for the vic­tims have been dis­trib­uted by the DS of­fice to ac­cess the losses in­curred to their own shops and houses. As the next step, of­fi­cers of the DS of­fice would make field vis­its to the ar­eas and fi­nalise the as­sess­ments to be for­warded for the com­pen­sa­tion process.

Info-graphic 2 shows data col­lected by the Divi­sional Sec­re­tariat of the Min­uwan­goda over the dam­ages re­ported in the Min­uwan­goda area.

Ku­rune­gala Dis­trict

The Ku­rune­gala Dis­trict Sec­re­tariat’s Of­fice which is re­spon­si­ble to gather in­for­ma­tion on the dam­ages re­ported in divi­sional sec­re­tariat di­vi­sions in­clud­ing Pan­duwas­nuwara West, Nikkarawer­atiya, Wariyap­ola, Bin­giriya and Kuliyapi­tiya, which came un­der at­tack on May 13, has still not fin­ished its data gath­er­ing process. There­fore, the DS/ Govern­ment Agent Gamini Ilan­garathna was not will­ing to re­lease the in­for­ma­tion gath­ered by them so far cit­ing that the data is yet to be fi­nalsed.

The is in the pos­ses­sion of the data re­gard­ing the dam­ages re­ported in the en­tire Ku­rune­gala dis­trict and col­lected by the Sri Lankan of­fice of a UK based Is­lamic char­ity NGO -- Mus­lim Aid. Ku­rune­gala

DS Of­fice, Govern­ment Val­u­a­tion Depart­ment is also still in the process of es­ti­mat­ing the dam­ages to ap­prove com­pen­sa­tion process. Re­fer to info-graphic . 3

Sri Lanka Po­lice was not able to present de­tailed and up­dated data re­gard­ing the dam­ages taken place on May 13 of the anti-mus­lim attacks re­ported in Ku­rune­gala and Gam­paha dis­tricts. When asked, Po­lice Spokesman SP Ruwan Gunasekara said he was not in pos­ses­sion of a de­tailed re­port of even the num­ber of ar­rests made so far by the po­lice over the re­cent an­timus­lim ri­ots.

When the asked Po­lice Spokes­men and At­tor­ney-at-law Gunasekara re­gard­ing the le­gal ac­tions that could be taken by the vic­tims against the cul­prits of the or­gan­ised mob attacks, he said the vic­tims can opt for civil ac­tion in court, in which case the court de­cides on both the crim­i­nal as­pects of the case and the civil as­pects. If con­victed, the de­fen­dants will be made to award com­pen­sa­tion to the vic­tims. Com­pen­sa­tion of the vic­tims will, how­ever, only be granted if the pro­ce­dural and sub­stan­tive con­di­tions for such com­pen­sa­tion are ful­filled.

So­ci­ol­o­gist Prof. Siri Het­tige opined that the con­tin­u­a­tion of such vi­o­lence can be dis­as­trous for a coun­try that is be­set with too many not so eas­ily re­solv­able is­sues such as un­prece­dented po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity and un­cer­tainty, mas­sive in­debt­ed­ness and chal­lenges em­a­nat­ing from cli­mate change. Fur­ther, he em­pha­sised that pol­icy re­forms should be brought about in ar­eas that have a di­rect bear­ing on the iden­tity for­ma­tion and in­ter-com­mu­nity re­la­tions in­clud­ing ed­u­ca­tion, me­dia, lan­guage and re­li­gion.

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