Commentary > Sri Lankan Muslims: the new ‘others’?
  • Lasith

    Dear TG

    It is always refreshing to read your articles that are not only extremely rational, they are also highly informative and soul searching.
    I happen to have relatives in Teldeniya and during a recent visit I gathered facts about the violence, which I like to share with you.
    You may then make further inferences and conclusions as you deem it fit.

    During the violence it was established that the people in those areas were not in support of the attack on the Muslim public on the basis of a fight between individuals. The statistics will support this as only two people died in the face of a massive attack on the Muslims. Much lives were saved by Sinhalese and Tamil neighbours who sympathised with the plight of the Muslims who were being targeted by external organised mobs. In as much the sympathetic sinhalese couldn’t face the mobs, they did their best to save lives.

    During my recent visit I was speaking to a family member, a ‘sinha-le’ type of fellow as a matter of fact but he explained a lot.
    First and foremost he too was sympathetic towards the Muslim public whom he said were innocent and helpless. The incident started as a result of the diseased truck driver obstructing the way of a three-wheeler. The three-wheeler that was carrying a set of drunk individuals.
    They had taken offence to the aggressive act by the driver and given chase. He got to Teldeniya and dodged into the filling station for safety. The three-wheeler sped past since they didn’t see the truck turning into the filling station. The driver had stayed at the station for a while and was trying to get back on the road when the three-wheeler was returning from a futile search. The truck was blocked by the three wheeler. The driver was then forced to confront them, and in the heat of it one of the drunken Muslims used a beer bottle he had been drinking to hit the driver on the head. After they made some noise more noise they had left. Intention was not to kill as they left the driver standing.
    The driver then parked his truck and called the manager who had come about an hour later and taken the driver to the hospital. After the administration of the driver the usual process followed, they took the assailants into custody. The driver was normal and even feeding himself by the next day. Well and good, right? Wrong!, this is where the story begins.
    After the third day the drivers condition worsened he had to be transferred to Kandy. And in the meantime the while the driver was still in hospital, his attackers were released for detention. This was what attracted the attention of the public. They started protesting, and protesters were promptly arrested and locked up.
    This is what gave the opportunity for BBS Gnanasara to incite the people. Instead of asking questions from the hospital why a man who had Walked into the hospital had to be transferred to Kandy while in their care, and if his condition was worsening, why he had not been transferred to Kandy or Colombo earlier, or blaming the police for lapses in their duties. BBS decided to make this a communal issue and unleash their terror on the entire community.
    Like I had mentioned earlier, the inhabitants of Teldeniya and Digana didn’t go along with BBS so BBS and the rest of the racist gangs had brought thugs from outside and started the attack.

    Now I would like to highlight a few irregularities :

    1) When a patient is admitted to a hospital after trauma to the head, it is usual practice to determine the extent of internal damage through an appropriate scan. It is my belief that the driver died from internal injuries, and would have been saves had they done the needful. In Sri Lanka people with far worst injuries have been saved by doctors.
    Now I know from past personal experience that Teldeniya general hospital, in spite of being well constructed, happens to be one of the most unprofessionally run hospitals. If you go there after 11am you will hardly see a doctor on duty, they all go for lunch by around 11am since they have to face their private practice between 12pm to 1pm or even 2pm. Patients have to ‘patiently’ wait. This is normal practice. I can only imagine how non-chalantly the driver must have been attended to in a place like that where there is no order, priority or sense of duty. No one is asking questions.

    2) How can a person in custody be released without the process of law taking its course. There must be a person who authorised the release of the attackers? Why was he not exposed?

    3) When mob action was going on, why didn’t the STF enforce the full extent of the law and protect innocent people and their property.
    Just as in the past STF and security forces on duty turned a blind eye to attacks. Why, why, why?

    4) Why didn’t the government take a more direct role in the course of things?

    5) Why did the media such as Derana, etc add fuel to the fire by not stating facts? Instead they lead people on by trying to make this incident look like a clash between two communities instead of between individuals?

    6) Why have the media or the government not highlighted acts of kindness by citizens to other citizens as hero’s?

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