A road which never again should be taken!
It is with the utmost heaviness of heart that we decry
the death of a fisherman in the violence which broke out in
Chilaw on Wednesday. This was a fatality which should never have
occurred and we see the violence which swept the coastal town as
absolutely unwarranted and counter-productive in nature. The
fisher folk of the area were reportedly protesting the recent
rise in fuel prices and were exercising a democratic right but
it is most unfortunate that the demonstration was allowed to
degenerate into manic and murderous violence.
It should be plain to see that a most complex situation had
arisen in the trouble spot in question. A glance at the pictures
of this incident of violence which were splashed in some
sections of the media would convince the impartial onlooker that
it was not a case of the innocents being slaughtered. Violence
was being resorted to very brazenly by many who sought to
confront the law and order agencies and it is difficult to view
the incident in stark black-and-white terms.
Nevertheless, the incident should not be prejudged and we
urge that the legal process be allowed to take its course. The
wrong-doers in the unfortunate confrontation, regardless of rank
and walk of life, should be identified and brought to justice.
Meanwhile, we offer our profoundest condolences to the kith and
kin of the deceased.
Moreover, we wish to reiterate the position we took in this
commentary a couple of days back that the rich possibilities in
post-conflict Sri Lanka not be squandered by the unthinking and
irresponsible in our polity. We need to point out that there are
political forces forever on the prowl which have a vested
interest in taking this country down a path of violence and
destruction - a path which should never again be traversed by
this country. But the fact is that these forces are alive and
kicking and the citizenry need to be alert to their dark
Impressionable sections could be easily provoked into
reacting violently if they are egged on by these political
forces which are seeking to take the country down the path of
violence and civil strife. The recurrence of industrial and
connected forms of unrest in some sections indicates that there
is an element of planning in these developments which carry with
them the seeds of chronic strife. These tendencies need to be
defused in the bud.
One way of defeating these designs is by educating oneself on
the post-independence political history of this country. The
present generation of youth is all too familiar with the
Northern uprising but the upheavals of the South are lost in the
mists of time and are therefore not part of recent memory for
the vast majority of the people. But the youth uprisings of
Southern Sri Lanka are as important, from the viewpoint of
political awareness, as the Northern insurrection which bled Sri
Lanka white and very nearly plunged this country into the ranks
of failed states.
Of the two Southern insurrections, the 1989-1990 uprising was
the more cataclysmic and barbaric. Those were times when
provincial roads in particular were littered with corpses and
pyres were made out of dead bodies. Those were indeed horrendous
times which we shudder to recall.
However, suffice it to know that there are political forces
which would prefer to see Sri Lanka in political turmoil. The
entirety of our public should be enabled to see through the
designs of these sections. A big 'no' needs to be said to
violence, to begin with. Next, every effort should be made by
our body-politic to make maximum use of the opportunities that
have now opened out to take this country along the path of
material prosperity and contentment.
The lessons of the past must be learnt assiduously. No one
stands to gain by political and social instability. That road
led to nowhere in the past and the same holds today too. Rather,
the hearts and minds of all should be bent on development and on
making the most out of peace.