Probe the political hand | Daily News


Probe the political hand

That there is a sinister political hand behind the mayhem unleashed during the past two days in several areas in the North Western Province and Gampaha is now being gradually established. Sightings of Opposition politicians among the anti-Muslim mobs had been reported in some areas adding to the widely held belief that the rioting was not a spontaneous affair fueled by the Easter Sunday attacks but a well organised operation with political backing. To begin with, the date May 13 was significant. It was on this day that, according to intelligence reports, the Jihadists were planning their second wave of attacks. According to Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, the politicians of the Joint Opposition was rubbing their hands with glee waiting for such an occurrence, but failing to materialize, they (the JO) had incited the anti-Muslim attacks to derive maximum political mileage. Whether the Minister’s claim is authentic or not is difficult to say. But there can be little doubt that there was an intrinsic political element in the mayhem, as borne out by several factors.

Perhaps, this knowledge may have prompted the Mahanayakes and His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith to come out in the open to claim the involvement of politicians in the anti-Muslim mob violence. Issuing a joint statement, the Mahanayakes of the Tri-Nikayas while urging all parties to maintain peace and communal harmony noted that issues have arisen due to some politicians trying to seek political mileage using the current situation and urged them to desist from such acts which could be detrimental to the country. His Eminence at a media briefing at the Archbishop’s House said; “We know that some of these groups are politically aligned. We ask all those political leaders to please control their members to ensure that they don’t get out of hand and they don’t take the law into their own hands.” Supporting their assertion was Speaker Karu Jayasuriya who in a statement observed that the incidents took place after a lengthy interval following the Easter Sunday carnage and time enough for the tempers and emotions to have cooled down, clearly indicating that the mayhem was an orchestrated one. “These incidents did not take place in the first horrors of the terrorists’ attacks, when people were hurting and grieving. Instead the fact that they are taking place three weeks after the attacks makes it evident that there is an organised group seeking to fulfill narrow agendas through this unrest”.

Of course, there is another facet to the new developments that points to sinister forces at work. The areas where the anti-Muslim riots took place had only meagre or zero Catholic presence. It is difficult to believe that non Catholics attacked the Muslims to express solidarity with their Catholic brethren. Nowhere in the world has one community waged war on behalf of another community. Hence, it is clear that the attacks could not have been retaliatory. More likely, it (the Ester Sunday Church attacks) was used as a dummy for a wider political project through the creation of anarchy with the sole aim of making the Government unpopular.

Some Joint Opposition MPs attribute the flare up to the bail granted to nine suspects in the Easter Sunday attacks and also the Government’s alleged halfhearted attempts to deal with those behind the Islamist fanatics coupled with anger by the Sinhalese that Muslim villagers were not properly checked for swords and weapons. Here again the bail was granted some two weeks ago and action against politicians allegedly supporting the Jihadist too was a recurring theme in the immediate aftermath of the church attacks while checking of weapons in Muslim homes should be a matter that is the responsibility of the Police and Security Forces. None of these reasons, to any reasonable mind, could give rise to a full blown riot, where over 500 homes, shops and religious centres were destroyed, at a time the country was well into the healing process of the Ester Sunday carnage.

Certain JO politicians, it is reported, had gone out to the trouble spots to diffuse the violence and contain the mobs. In fact no politician should be allowed to visit scenes of rioting, for, contrary to controlling the situation, the presence of a hot headed Opposition politician could only provide a rallying point for mobs to intensify their attacks.

It was also reported that Local Government politicians were seen instigating the mobs in certain areas, a fact which even His Eminence referred to, calling on them not to be ‘cardboard heroes’. These Local Councillors could only have been members of the pohottuwa which holds power in the vast majority of the LG bodies and are but known to be the storm troopers of the Rajapaksas. Such miscreants should be identified and legal action taken against them. Their conduct also spells out a worrisome prospect, in that it is these Pradeshiya Sabhas and Provincial Councils that form the nurseries for Parliament membership and from the look of things the August Assembly will continue to accommodate the kind of characters even surpassing the current crop, in their propensity for violence.

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