What might have been! | Daily News

What might have been!

As the nation comes to grips with the mind-boggling calamity on that fateful Easter Sunday, where senseless terror, in the name of religion, claimed over 250 lives and injured nearly 500, the emerging security picture suggests that, but for the Easter carnage, horrendous as is it is, a far greater tragedy and loss of lives, would have taken place plunging the country into an unprecedented bloodbath. Security reports point to a sustained terror campaign in the offing of humongous proportions had the massacre not galvanized the state to deploy special security measures. An indication of this was the spate of ‘red alerts’ issued in the days following the attacks to the public. The entire might of the security services bore down on the operation of tracking down members of the National Tawheed Jamaat. The country was under a tight security blanket to make it secure and safe from terror strikes and protect the public. In that respect it is not wrong to come to the conclusion that those innocents sacrificed their lives so that a vast majority of others may live. They certainly did not die in vain.

The regular arrests of Jihadist operatives from all parts of the country, the almost daily raids on terrorist hideouts, the massive hauls of explosives, weapons, ammunition seized and the unraveling of details of the deep and sophisticated network of the Islamists is a certain pointer to the large scale devastation that was in store, but for the Easter Sunday massacres, with the Security Forces none the wiser.

But for the prompt anti-terror operations mounted in the immediate aftermath of the carnage, the Jihadists would certainly have expanded their operations several fold to wreak devastating havoc on all the churches, and, who knows, even Buddhists temples. It was the Easter Sunday terror attacks that made the police discover the purchase of white material from a shop in Giriulla by two Muslim women, clearly with a view to targeting a Buddhist temple, disguised as sil mathas, following which security was beefed up at all temples.

His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith also made the significant revelation that the main target of the Dehiwela bomber was the St Mary’s Church which was aborted by the presence of the police at the time near the church, on another investigation. The Cardinal also revealed that the Zion church bomber had, as his target, the Cathedral of St. Mary’s in Batticaloa. These places of worship would certainly have come into the reckoning of the terrorists in their next bout of bloodletting had Black Sunday not alerted the Security Forces. Perhaps rivers of blood was saved by the blood spilled by the innocent Catholic worshipers on that fateful Sunday. Hence, it behoves on members of all communities, religions, races to take cognizance of their sacrifice and offer them merit in accordance with their own religious persuasions.

The Easter Sunday terror strikes, certainly, created a chain reaction where security was concerned, making people alert to their surroundings and close scrutiny of strangers in their midst. The Government too was taking no chances. All May Day rallies and Vesak festivities have been cancelled and schools closed indefinitely. Emergency has been promulgated, two Muslim fundamentalist groups proscribed, face veils banned and Muslims educators without valid visas are to be deported. A Joint Operations Command has been set up and the Defence Secretary and the IGP replaced. All this would not have been the case had the Easter Sunday massacre not taken place. Security would have been lax and the terrorist, now in custody, would certainly have had a free run, with their suicide kits strapped on them, to wreak worse carnage than Black Sunday. It is providence in the form of the terror strikes in churches and hotels that preempted a tragedy of mind-boggling proportions.

The attack also opened the nation’s eyes to the spectre of global terrorism and geared the country’s Intelligence network to focus on this aspect which otherwise would have escaped the radar of the security establishment. Foreign countries too have come scrambling to offer their expertise and share Intelligence on the Jihadists.

In that sense, the victims of the Easter Sunday terror attacks had saved the nation from being a playground for international terrorist organisations, with the ability to strike at will, as they did and continue to do in the western countries. In that context they (victims) had geared our armed forces to fight this terror at the very inception and nip things in the bud without having to wage a long drawn out war like we did with the LTTE. It (Easter terror) also precipitated a full scale overhaul of the country’s security apparatus, placed it in heightened preparedness overall. Hence, all those who perished ought to be declared national heroes and a monument erected in their honour, preferably at the Independence Square. They should be accorded the same honour given our war heroes who sacrificed their lives on behalf of the Motherland. To them go the nation’s salute for this rescue act for which they all paid with their blood. Henceforth, Easter Sunday, each year, should be solemnly observed commemorating their supreme sacrifice on behalf of the nation.

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