Re­li­gious and racial amity is the way for­ward

Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - - COMMENT - (The writer is a re­tired In­spec­tor Gen­eral of Po­lice)

B. An­ton Jeyanathan

The year 2018 was a pe­riod of eco­nomic set­backs. Apart from the sharp de­pre­ci­a­tion of the ru­pee, the ever-in­creas­ing re­pay­ment of debts, de­ple­tion in the for­eign re­serves and a drop in re­mit­tances sent by ex­pat work­ers, a cloud of dark­ness pre­vailed due to a con­sti­tu­tional cri­sis which nearly brought our coun­try to its knees.

The coun­try came out on top with the in­de­pen­dent ju­di­ciary stamp­ing its au­thor­ity against il­le­gal ex­ec­u­tive ac­tions and brought back the demo­cratic sys­tem once again. Dur­ing this dark pe­riod, the armed forces and po­lice en­sured the law and or­der was main­tained and there were no in­ci­dents of any com­mu­nal clashes, the types of which were seen early in March 2018 at Di­gana in Kandy and in Am­para.

It is re­gret­table though some mis­cre­ants were ar­rested and are yet to be brought be­fore courts, there has been no de­part­men­tal ac­tion taken against se­nior po­lice of­fi­cers who were mere by­standers when prop­er­ties were dam­aged and se­ri­ous in­juries were caused to peo­ple. Thank­fully, the re­li­gious lead­ers go to­gether and brought the sit­u­a­tion un­der con­trol, be­fore they flared up as coun­try­wide clashes.

It ap­pears that cer­tain po­lit­i­cal par­ties are fan­ning the racial and re­li­gious emo­tions to set this coun­try on fire again. There were re­ports of the killing of two po­lice­men on duty at a check­point in the Eastern

Prov­ince. The crime was al­legedly com­mit­ted by for­mer

LTTE cadres.

Sub­ject to cor­rec­tion, up to now, ex­cept for a few re­ports of the ar­rest of some re­ha­bil­i­tated LTTE cadres, it is still not known who the real cul­prits are, whether they are

LTTE cadres or not and whether the weapons stolen from the po­lice­men have been re­cov­ered.

Mean­while, re­ports from the north said the let­ters of a sign­board show­ing the di­rec­tion of the Naga Vi­hara had been oblit­er­ated by un­known per­sons. There were also re­ports of ex-LTTE cadres car­ry­ing out at­tacks on armed forces and Po­lice per­son­nel in the North. Just this week the Chun­nakam Po­lice have ar­rested some per­sons in con­nec­tion with the dis­cov­ery of ex­plo­sives and firearms which have been left be­hind by some youths sus­pected to be LTTE cadres, on see­ing mem­bers of the armed forces. The law en­force­ment of­fi­cers should take ev­ery step to pre­vent the resur­gence of the LTTE in the North and East.

In Mawanella and other ar­eas, Bud­dha stat­ues had been dam­aged and des­e­crated by per­sons of a par­tic­u­lar eth­nic group. Some ar­rests have been made and they have been brought be­fore a court of law. How­ever, some politi­cians and some of the re­li­gious lead­ers are ut­ter­ing false­hoods and half truths, in­sti­gat­ing the ma­jor­ity com­mu­nity against the mi­nor­ity com­mu­ni­ties. With the aim of cap­tur­ing po­lit­i­cal power, they prop­a­gate mis­lead­ing state­ments against cer­tain pro­pos­als by the gov­ern­ment. They seek to bring about dis­cord be­tween com­mu­ni­ties. All po­lit­i­cal par­ties must sit to­gether and find a po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion ac­cept­able to all com­mu­ni­ties – a so­lu­tion that will give equal sta­tus to all as cit­i­zens of Sri Lanka, so that the eth­nic prob­lem is solved once and for all, leav­ing no room for mis­cre­ants and racist politi­cians to whip up eth­nic or re­li­gious emo­tions and mis­lead the peo­ple at ev­ery elec­tion to gain power.

With the forth­com­ing elec­tions, politi­cians of all shades are ut­ter­ing var­i­ous state­ments bor­der­ing racial and re­li­gious dishar­mony to win votes. Such ut­ter­ances should be dealt with by the law en­force­ment au­thor­i­ties to pre­vent the coun­try from plung­ing into may­hem and blood­shed once again.

Sri Lanka is a multi-racial and multi-re­li­gious na­tion. We are all Sri Lankans though we may be­long to var­i­ous eth­nic­i­ties or re­li­gions. We have to live to­gether iden­ti­fy­ing our­selves as Sri Lankans. This is the way for the progress.

All re­li­gious lead­ers must preach and cam­paign for the com­mon Sri Lankan iden­tity so that we will not be iden­ti­fied by our race or religion. Then, we can go for­ward as one na­tion – Sri Lanka.

Let there be racial and re­li­gious amity through­out the coun­try so that from this year on­wards our coun­try will be able to raise its head above the eco­nomic, re­li­gious and racial clouds.

With the forth­com­ing elec­tions, politi­cians of all shades are ut­ter­ing var­i­ous state­ments bor­der­ing racial and re­li­gious dishar­mony to win votes. Such ut­ter­ances should be dealt with by the law en­force­ment au­thor­i­ties to pre­vent the coun­try from plung­ing into may­hem and blood­shed once again.

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