Stamping out criminality, a top
We are assured by the
authorities that the killing of a Western tourist down South
recently, by a trigger-happy gang of hoodlums, would have no
destabilizing consequences for the local tourist and leisure
industries and this should be the case all right but there is no
denying that the disquieting and gruesome crime need not have
occurred. The state has lost not no time in rounding-up the
suspects and in ensuring that the law and order process is being
fully activated, but the crime is bound to be profoundly
regretted by all those who have the best interests of this
country at heart.
The crime could not have occurred at a more inopportune
moment. The tourist inflow to this country is at an all-time
high. This is particularly true of Western tourist arrivals.
These visitors to our country are really drawn by the fabled
beauty and splendour of this country, not to speak of all its
unique and exotic attractions.
However, they are also acting under the presumption that
their lives are absolutely safe here, now that terror is no
more. No less magnetic than the natural 'pulls' of Sri Lanka, is
the normalcy factor.
Tourists' confidence in this regard is likely to have been
shaken after the incident and this should only be expected.
It is up to the state and its agencies to ensure that there
are no repetitions of incidents of this kind, which have the
potential of gravely harming the leisure and allied industries
and of tarnishing the image of this country. While putting in
motion all the law and order measures that could have the effect
of curbing criminality and ensuring the absolute security of
visitors to this country, the government and all relevant
sections should take a close, penetrating look at lingering
criminality in this land.
We are compelled at this juncture to revisit a host of issues
which have been remaining unresolved over the years. In fact,
stepped-up criminality and lawlessness cannot be studied in
isolation from the conflict which ravaged this land for decades.
Incidentally, although sections within the Opposition are making
heavy weather over the illegal arms issue, it should not be
forgotten that it was under some UNP administrations in the mid
eighties that some arms were distributed among sections of the
polity for the purpose of, reportedly, securing their
protection. Those were the origins of the illegal arms question
in this country.
Nevertheless, lingering criminality is closely bound-up with
the militarization of this country over the 30 years of conflict
and the question of criminality should be seen as an outgrowth
of the prolonged violence of those times. If some of those
enjoying even a semblance of power today are proving to be
brutal and murderous when justifiably opposed, it is because
criminality and violence are deeply rooted in their
personalities. And the years of conflict account for these
distortions of the human personality.
These issues, if not the larger one of finding an equitable
solution to the problems of our communities, should compel the
government, its agencies and other concerned sections, to take
up the challenge of containing criminality to the extent
possible. It is all too plain that criminality is continuing to
characterize the behaviour of some wielding power in our midst
and this is not something the larger society and the state could
be complacent about.
All, irrespective of position and status, should be compelled
to observe the Rule of Law and this is something that needs to
be enforced forthwith.
The law should be enforced in perpetuity and it needs to be
seen that the persons who pulled the trigger in Tangalle are
brought to justice without further delay.
That said, there is no denying that the lingering demon of
violence and brute force should be exorcised from the minds and
hearts of those who believe that they could indulge in bouts of
lawlessness with impunity. It is the human heart which is
'desperately wicked' and which needs to be healed. That is,
residual violence from the past must be wiped out.
The incident at Tangalle should drive home that nothing could
be left to chance on this score. The streaks of criminality
among those sections that are prone to lawlessness must be
treated clinically too because law and order measures alone
would not suffice. Above all, violence should be seen as out of
place by all in present day Sri Lanka which is on the mend.