Citizens' Mail | Daily News


Citizens' Mail

Give the railway commuters their ticket worth

Evening express trains heading to Galle and Matara should refrain from stopping at Panadura?

The train service still follows the traditional operational systems. It needs to be reviewed periodically with the growing population. The powers that be of the Railway must see that the passengers are given the proper travelling comfort to the amount that they pay as the ticket fee.

Apparently, the train service has not developed to ensure comfortable passage. Seated travelling is a luxury for the majority of the passengers. Yet, the Railway authorities can make the standers’ position a bit more comfortable by ensuring a little oxygen intake.

This situation worsens in the evening with the exception of Rhunu Kumari and Samudra Devi express trains. The other trains stop at Panadura. The station is perched at a distance of 30 Km from Colombo. The slow trains, operating from 3.30 pm to 09.35 pm at night, pass Panadura through Kalutara and Aluthgama. The Panadura occupants could find their travelling much more comfortable with the slow operating trains.

The inconvenience caused over the express train stoppage at Panadura is mostly for the travellers who find comfortable seats on the Maradana-Colombo bordering train. They dominate the entrance and the compartment in a chockablock state. Owing to this situation, the passengers bound to Colpetty, Bambalapitiya and Wellawatta find it difficult to board the train. The passengers are pushed in and in and in, until they are suffocated and when that is finished they are forced to keep on mounting the footboard, each clinging on to the train with just one hand and with just one foot perched on the footboard. This is a disgraceful state of affairs and points to the amount of suffering the train commuters are undergoing. The footboard travellers, on the other hand, have no sympathy towards the long distance-bound commuters.

The proof beyond a reasonable doubt is that anybody could witness the crowd disembark at Panadura from these express distance travelling trains which reduce the passenger capacity by 50% after disembarkation. One has to take into account the passengers who could not board the train from Colpetty, Bambalapitiya and Wellawatta because of this crowd, who has to reaches their residence with much of desperation and frustration in late night at a distance.

The remedy to this is out in the open. If the distance travelling trains run up to Kalutara while stopping at Bambalapitiya and Wellawatta, it will be a huge relief, especially for the distance travelling office passengers. It offers some value for the cost they pay for the tickets and much inspiration to their journey.

Transport Minister, we fervently believe that you would take this situation to consideration and offer some relief for the distance travelling passengers bound to Galle and Matara.

Rohan Nissanka

Aversion to black

Black is a colour like any other. At evening functions in Sri Lanka, I have seen many, both men and women in black clothes. Women in long black dresses, abayas or sarees. Men in long black pants and black coats.

This aversion to Black started recently after some Muslim women started wearing black Abayas. This is not a natural fear but an artificial fear. If it is natural it should be felt at the sight of a woman in black saree or a long Black dress or a man in a full Black suit and only at Muslim women in black Abaya.

Most women explaining the fear for black say that children are scared of black. I wonder if all the children in Sri Lanka are really scared of black or are they made to feel scared at the sight of a woman in black Abaya by pointing at her and naming her goni billa. Should it be two words actually? I think scientific research should be done to establish the truth behind this and ban everything black to save our children from this unwanted fear.

F. F. Nizam


Proclaim St. Anthony’s Church, Kochchikade as a National Shrine

The first Holy Mass to be sung at St. Anthony’s Church, Kochchikade after April 21 Easter Sunday suicide attack was celebrated by His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith on June 13 – the Feast Day of St. Anthony – in the presence of thousands of devotees, Cabinet Ministers and Members of Diplomatic Corps.

It was heartening to note that the State and Municipal Authorities had taken adequate steps to afford maximum security to the church, in the aftermath of the suicide attack. The Road Development, Municipal and Police departmental officers deserve praise for installing a protective barrier – in the shape of an arc – by embedding 3 ft high iron girders at 2 ft distance on the up-line of the road – right in front of the church – designed in such a manner to create a permanent security barrier – so that no vehicle, let alone a motorcycle could crash into the church through the main door. Prior to Easter Sunday attack, the huge glass doors of the main entrance to the church used to open straight on to the pavement of the road in front – and a bomb-laden truck could have easily crashed into the well of the church bringing the whole church crashing down to earth. Once again my gratitude to all the personnel who were involved in designing and installing this barrier. Also, the removal of the roundabout, which had been in existence, right in front of the church for years and years had not caused any traffic congestion at all and instead consequent to the new arrangement, the traffic in the up-lane-in front of the Church – moves on in single file much easier than before! The State authorities too deserve a special word of praise for donating 7 perches of land out of the Port of Colombo – to enable the church to expand the facilities now being provided to the devotees.

Over 95% of the reconstruction work of the church had now been completed, thanks to over 200 Navy personnel – who toiled day in and day out – for 52 days to bring the devastated church back to its former glory – May God Bless them all abundantly!

Even though the repairs had been almost completed, the authorities had thought it fit – to leave the hands of the giant clock fixed high up on the outer wall of the church at 8.45 – to remind the future generations, the exact time at which 54 devotees laid down their lives – as witnesses to their beliefs. I request that even the spot where the suicide bomber blasted himself within the church – now marked with numerous holes on the tiled floor – should also be cordoned off with a gold plated cord to remind the future generations – of Man’s Inhumanity to Man.

The plaque fixed on to the wall of the church-a few feet away from the spot gives the names of the 54 devotees who breathed their last within the sanctity of the Church and this list included the names of sister and brother duo of the Buddhist faith – Medha Sathsarani Sirimanna under No. 19 and Imash Thiwanka Sirimanna under No. 20 – where the sister had brought in her brother too to fulfil a vow and the victim No 37 – is identified in the plaque as Mohammed Rizwan – all under the title - They laid down their lives for God!

All devotees who died at St.Anthony’s Church, Kochchikade, St. Sebastian’s Church, Katuwapitiya and Zion Church, Batticaloa on that fateful day were pouring their hearts out. In presenting their pleadings to God and nothing would have distracted their eyes or minds, when they were within the perimeter of the church. Envy, Jealousy and Hatred would have just flown out of their minds and the next moment they all perished. All of them who perished should be considered as Saints.

Because the last thing they did on this Planet Earth was to have a heart to heart close conversation with God.

Out of the three Holy Places – St. Anthony’s Church, Kochchikade is of special significance to all the faithful. Even prior to the suicide attack, St Anthony’s Church used to attract thousands of devotees of all creeds and races – especially on Tuesdays – as Tuesday is dedicated the world over to St. Anthony – the Patron Saint of the Distressed. For the same reason, no one who goes on pilgrimages to Europe misses out, St. Anthony’s Church in Italy in the City of Padua – where St. Anthony was called to eternal rest at the young age of 36 years.

Before long, when the tourists start streaming in – especially from Europe, USA, Canada and Australian continent – a visit to St. Anthony’s Church, Kochchikade – situated just 2 Km away from the city centre – would become “A must” in their itineraries and the authorities should be well prepared in advance for such an eventuality.

Since an International Jihadist Organization – ISIS – claimed responsibility for the suicide attack the picture of the devastated church as well as the visuals of the dead and the injured were splashed across the world through electronic and print media and the Easter Sunday massacre caught the eyes of millions and millions the world over and for the first time in over a hundred years the Mayor of Paris switched off the lights of the Eiffel Tower, as a mark of respect for all those who lost their lives in a senseless attack.

Taking into consideration the events that took place on that fateful Easter Sunday I fervently request that St. Anthony’s Church, Kochchikade be proclaimed as a National Shrine and all necessary facilities which a National Shrine deserve should be accorded to the Church which I hope and pray in a near future date will be known as St. Anthony’s National Shrine, Sri Lanka!

Srilal Jayasuriya


The case against the Capital Punishment

As a leading civil movement that has been directly involved in rehabilitating prisoners through psycho-spiritual healing programmes for a period of 20 years, the Sarvodaya Movement wishes to reiterate our stand that we totally condemn the decision made on June 26, to implement Capital Punishment in Sri Lanka.

The late Sam Wijesinghe, former Secretary General to Parliament and the President of the Prisoners’ Welfare Association, visited the Vishva Niketan International Peace Centre, the spiritual arm of Sarvodaya, with the officials of the Prisoners’ Welfare Society in 1999 and requested that Vishva Niketan undertook to introduce ‘meditation’ into the prison system as a tool for the rehabilitation of prisoners.

During the period between 1999 and 2019 Sarvodaya’s psycho-spiritual programmes have successfully transformed the thinking process of both long-term and short-term prison inmates from hatred, anger and revenge to thoughts of compassion, love, kindness, patience and magnanimity. They had been proved guilty of murder, rape, robbery, possession, transport and sale of drugs.

According to the prison authorities, although 40% of prisoners re-integrated into society after serving their terms of imprisonment return after committing various offences, no one who participated in our psycho-spiritual healing programmes has ever been reconvicted. Moreover, the prison inmates who participated in our programmes have not engaged in internal prison riots. During the last two decades, we have conducted over 250 meditation programmes and rehabilitated more than 50,000 prisoners, four of whom have taken to robes after leaving prison.

On the whole, 90% of prisoners have never attended a Dhamma school, have no self-discipline, failed to carve out a meaningful life for themselves, no sustainable employment and represent a cross-section of a society steeped in poverty and an upbringing amidst violence within the family and community. Furthermore, the majority of prisoners also represent an illiterate and ignorant social class.

The experience of the last 20 years has convinced us that a majority of the prisoners are victims of social and political injustice and have engaged in criminal activities due to their inability to control their emotions and/or at the instigation of the undue influence/pressure and/or the patronage of social and political heavyweights.

In the above context, we firmly believe that the implementation of Capital Punishment is a short-sighted solution depicting a regressive trend in a developing social structure. We kindly request President to refrain from implementing retrogressive decisions of this nature, for it would shatter the spiritual core of our society. Instead, we urge you to undertake to extend state patronage for extensive reformative programmes that will rekindle spirituality in prisoners and our society, and support the rule of law.

Dr. A. T. Ariyaratne
President, Sarvodaya Movement



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