Moving ahead | Daily News

Moving ahead

The Easter Sunday terror attacks, naturally, has thrust all affairs of state and other important issues to the background including the war on drugs that was continuing in earnest. Large hauls of narcotics were being detected on a daily basis and key suspects arrested. In the immediate aftermath of the bombings of churches and hotels there was even speculation that the attacks may be linked to the crackdown on the drugs mafia. This was based on the premise that terror groups the world over were being funded by drug money as was even the case with the LTTE. Even President Sirisena, who is personally spearheading the war against drugs, too, initially was wont to go along with this theory. That the attacks had dented the anti-narcotics operation cannot be denied.

In any event, he has vowed to carry on with the campaign even in the midst of the present crisis that, no doubt, has pushed the matter out of the public focus. During a discussion on the “Programme to Rehabilitate Drug Addicts” at Temple Trees on Friday, the President, while assuring defeat for terrorism in the country, stressed that the he will continue with the National Drug Prevention Programme despite challenges against it. He said international terrorism, drug smuggling, weapons smuggling networks and the underworld are one single unit, adding that all these challenges against the country would be defeated. He also conceded that the anti-narcotics operation lost its momentum somewhat as a result of the Easter Sunday tragedy. “We faced this terrorist attacks while we were conducting a huge programme against the narcotics menace”, he said.

To his credit, President Sirisena was carrying out his campaign to rid the country of narcotics with single minded purpose. Going by his comments, he is bound to resume the war against the drugs underworld with new vigour despite the huge distraction caused by the Easter bombings. Propitiously, the Godfather of the narcotics trade in this country, Makandure Madush, was brought back to Sri Lanka yesterday morning from his adopted home in Dubai from where he was deported and, at the time of writing, was being grilled by the CID. The wheels of the judiciary which too was paralyzed after the terror attacks should start moving once again, and, hopefully, normal life too will soon be on track.

As already mentioned, much of the state functions including development programmes that were gathering pace had come to a standstill. The tourism industry, which was picking up, was dealt a mortal blow. One hardly sees any event connected with development these days on television which is totally devoted to the terror strikes. Among the worst hit is the education sector with schools and universities closed. All Government schools are to reopen today for the second term after the extended vacation except the Catholic schools, at the instance of His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith due to security fears. His Eminence cannot be faulted for entertaining such fears after the devastating blow delivered to his flock on the holiest day in the Christian calendar. More so since weapons hauls explosives devices are continuing to be unearthed on a daily basis and the risk still persists. Naturally His Eminence is not going to take a chance.

True, Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam has allayed fears in this respect, assuring maximum security to all the schools. Additional precautions too have been taken, with parking of vehicles prohibited in the vicinity of school premises and at least one service personnel assigned to a single school. For all that, lingering fears are bound to remain, given the sheer magnitude of the terror strikes targeting the Catholic community.

Still, the country as a whole cannot go into a shell fearing terrorist attacks. In fact this is exactly what the terrorists too want -holding the nation to ransom by instilling fear among the community. This was the tactic adopted even by the LTTE when the country was kept in the throes of a fear psychosis. The Easter Sunday carnage is still on the lips of all members of the public and the dark pall over the nation continue to remain and so too a general sense of apathy.

It redounds on the leaders to get the country back to normal as quickly as possible by reassuring the public as regards their safety. This is also a time for all parties to shed their political differences and unite for the sake of the country. His Eminence has already appealed to all politicians in this regard in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy followed by leading Buddhist clergy. Unfortunately, certain elements are attempting to use the tragedy to score political points and to stir communal feelings. There is even talk about calling for a general election. Needless to say, the hunger for power has eclipsed all good sense and sound judgement in some. Elections are hardly the solution for the present crisis. It is not going to change the security climate or be a solace to the grieving victims. In fact it can only polarize society further when the need of the hour is unity among all to face the challenge confronting the nation. 


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