Peace and normalcy, the need of the hour | Daily News


Peace and normalcy, the need of the hour

When it appeared that the country was limping back to normalcy after the Easter Sunday terror strikes, a different kind of terror appears to be rearing its head reminiscent of Black July ’83. There certainly was optimism building among the general public that things would normalize soon. Large stocks of explosive and weapons were seized from all parts of the country and key suspects being arrested, raising hopes of the worst to be behind us. In a way, horrendous as the Easter Sunday carnage was, where innocent worshipers and guests at hotels were blown to bits, many felt that this paved the way for the government to step on a much larger plot and avert a worse calamity of much greater magnitude. Now, when the Police and Security Forces were engaged in a commendable job, dismantling the entire terror apparatus they have now been diverted from this task to shift their focus and resources in fighting another phenomenon in the form communal violence.

An islandwide dusk to dawn curfew was declared on Monday as tensions flared up in many areas, while a permanent police curfew was clamped in the North Western Province where incidents apparently had taken a serious turn. Army Commander Lt. General Mahesh Senanayake has vowed to come down hard on those engaged in the mob violence while calling on the general public to help his men control the situation. “We will take stern action to apprehend, arrest, and, even, fire on those creating violence, by using the minimum or maximum powers given under Emergency regulations”, he said. Issuing a statement the Army Chief said; “We will ensure that the country will not plunge into violence due to extremism and terrorism”.

Of course, it is only a very few who are involved in the mayhem, just like in the case of Black July. There is also a clear indication that the mob attacks are the work of organised groups with or without political backing. We say this because in most areas where the attacks have taken place there is hardly any presence of the Catholic community who bore the brunt of the Easter Sunday terror attacks. The law enforcement and the army should focus on this aspect as well if they are to identify the source of the violence.

This is hardly the time for the nation to be divided on political lines when a potent enemy is in our midst capable of wreaking havoc of a much more destructive kind than that of the LTTE. The Mahanayake of the Asgiriya Chapter the Most Ven. Warakagoda Gnanaratana Thera has called for all sides to unite to face up to the monumental challenge before the nation. The Ven. Thera has urged both the President and the Prime Minister to sink their differences if the danger facing the nation is to be overcome. The Ven. Thera issuing a statement said the forming of a broad coalition and understanding between the President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe would definitely end the present crisis. Speaker Karu Jayasuriya too has urged people of all communities not to allow the fire of communalism and religious extremism destroy the country and its future generation. He said, those who extend support to fan the flames of communalism and religious extremism were traitors who put the future generation at risk.

It is essential that peace and normalcy be restored without further delay and the public extend their corporation to the Police and Armed Forces in accomplishing this task. The country cannot be left teetering on the brink of mayhem and anarchy indefinitely. The Army Commander has assured the public that they have nothing to fear and that they should send their children to school and go about their normal business without any apprehension. True, the almost daily detection of weapons and explosives have naturally given second thoughts to the parents about sending their children to school where the attendance is still very low. But we have to break out of this siege mentality sooner than later. If not we would be granting the terrorists victory on a platter.

In this connection it is unfortunate to see certain media going to great lengths to reinforce fear among the public and create a climate of tension which cannot but be conduct in keeping with a political agenda. The exhortation of His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith and other religious leaders to put aside all differences in the interest of peace and communal harmony, perhaps, has not made an impact with such elements. The healing of wounds ought to be the need of the hour and not exacerbating feelings of hatred and revenge. As we have been advocating in these spaces, a moratorium should be declared on party politics at this critical juncture and a unified front presented to confront the challenge. The Government, for its part, should take the people into its confidence, instead of sowing confusion, with different ministers expressing contrary views. The Muslim politicians, from both sides of the divide, too should help in easing tensions by unequivocally rejecting extremism and working towards uniting the estranged communities.

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