How Grease Yakka Became a Nationwide Plague?
Posted on August 31st, 2011

Dr Ruwan M Jayatunge

 Grease Yakka or the Grease Devil is affecting the day-to-day lives of Sri Lankans creating a mass hysteria.  The fear and suspicion provoked by the Grease Yaka had caused the deaths of several innocent people so far.  How the phenomenon of Grease Yaka became infectious and damaged the Nation?

 Grease Yakka is not a newly introduced term and people knew the actions of Grease Yakka long before it became a nationwide problem.  In every village there were a few people who used to have voyeuristic tendencies (or so called Peeping Toms) and sometimes these characters used to disrupt the village harmony. They rarely attacked or raped women but furtively observed naked or sexually active people for his own gratification.

 There were several factors that helped this social malady to grow extensively and out of control. One of the major factors could be identified as over reporting and mass publicity given by the media. Unfortunately many newspapers reported the Grease Yakka saga irresponsibly sometimes exaggerating the facts. With massive influx of information regarding the Grease Yakka it made a panic among the people creating a profound suspicion and it reinforced the deviant characters to act violently. After the wide media coverage in every district Grease Yakkas emerged. This wide media coverage and massive fear gave some individuals a reckless motivation to act like grease devils in their native villages. It gave them sense of authority and control over horrified people. Sometimes these individuals acted as groups terrorizing people, savagely attacking women and sometimes committing thefts.  

  As a result of these activities livelihoods disrupted and people especially women lived in constant distress. The plantation areas were badly hit and in some places female employees did not report to work for many days. The Police and the Armed Forces had to deploy a massive numbers of servicemen to maintain   law and order.  All these factors had a negative impact on the national economy.   

 The secret deaths of seven old women in Kahawaththa made this situation worst and things aggravated beyond control. Fear, suspicion and mass hysteria emerged as a result of this tense situation. Villagers became suspicious of any strangers and several innocent people were misapprehended as grease devils. Several people were beaten to death.  One Police Officer was hacked to death in Puttalam and the racial tensions escalated. If not for the appropriate action taken, the social malady of Grease Yakka  could end up in massive communal violence.  

 There were many cases of grease devil attacks. Certain cases had no basis at all. Some women who were attention seekers reported that the grease devils came to attack them worsening the situation further. Some women misinterpreted certain situations and reported that they became under attack. Nonetheless there were genuine attacks and in some events culprits have been identified or captured.   

 Sri Lanka is still experiencing the ramifications of the post war period. Although there are no hostile enemy attacks or suicide bombings still the psyche of people have not fully apprehended the current peace situation. The elements of fear, tension and anxiety still remain in the collective unconscious of the people who experienced an elongated war. Therefore it is easy to create mass fear psychosis among the public by igniting a social unrest by inflating a social myth. Some criminal groups and the Political Extremists willfully make use of this turmoil situation for their favor. It is very easy to create a panic among the people and the media has utmost responsibility when reporting events. We must not forget that the Rwandan genocide was partially created and escalated by the media.

 In a situation like this the public has to fulfill their duties as responsible citizens. To enhance the public safety and strengthening of the community support systems are   required.  The public should be vigilant and not be gullible by the erroneous information that they receive. Taking law in to their hands has worst repercussions. In Thotulagala Estate and in Puttalam tragedies occurred when people took law in to their hands.

 Community leaders and religious leaders can do a lot to prevent social disorders such as grease yakka menace. Already the grease Yakka plague has attacked the nation causing deep wounds. It is high time that this pandemic ought to be stopped. It can be stopped with the help of the general public. The public must work collectively as well as collaboratively to end the curse of Grease Yakka.

5 Responses to “How Grease Yakka Became a Nationwide Plague?”

  1. Fran Diaz Says:

    Our thanks to Dr Jayatunge for this analysis.

    To counter violent acts before they happen, we suggest that Neighborhood Watches (NW’s) be implemented throughout the island to identify criminal elements and troubled people. These NW’s could consist of households with educated, mature people. They could act together with the Police & the Security Forces to put a stop to the crimes. This way, people who know the neighborhood could be in charge. The various Temples & churches could play a positive role too, advising people not to panic and attack innocent people. A person is not guilty unless proved so, and that is a task for the Courts to decide.

    This may be good chance to clean up the country of criminal elements in general, and a warming to those who spread false rumors and benefit from it.

  2. oldfarm39 Says:

    Thank you sir for your article. I have been deeply concerned about this Grease Devil phenomena . Everybody was hoping and praying that Sri Lanka will prosper and become a very peaceful country after the war.. If the government does not act and set good examples for the nation,I am afraid we are heading towards lawless society with ruthless gang culture . Once the country slides into this downward spiral there is no hope for the future generation of all the inhabitants of this beautiful country. Hope people like Dr Jayatunge can bring the issue to the forefront for the sake of all our future.

  3. Dham Says:

    Olden age Grees Yakas and different to these characters.
    These yakas have eveloved by ever present Political Yakkas of our country.
    True, Mahinda & Co could overcome Tiger menas but deep rooted Political yakkas are destroying the gains that have been made.

  4. Jana Rala Says:

    ග්‍රීස් යකාගේ ආරම්භයට හේතුව, ඔබ කියන ආකාරයේ, සාමජීය සහ මනෝවිද්‍යාත්මක හේතු තමයි. නමුත් එතනින් එහාට යෂ්ටිය බාරගත්තේ දෙමල බෙදුම්වාදී සහ මුස්ලිම් ජාවාරම්කාර මූලධර්මවාදීන්. කෙසේ වෙතත් ඔබගේ ලිපියේ අරමුණ, මනෝවිද්‍යාත්මක සහ සමාජ විද්‍යාත්මක කරුණු පැහැදිලි කිරීම් මගින් මෙම ප්‍රශ්නයේ බෙදුම්වාදී සංරචකය යටපත් කිරීමදැයි මට සැක සිතේ.

  5. prashantha Says:

    Jana Rala

    මෙම ලිපිය ඔබට තේරී නැති හැඩයි යලි ඩික්ෂනරියක් ලඟට ගෙන කියවා බලන්න ලියුම්කරු බෙදුම්වාදී සංරචකය ගැන මෙසේ කියයි

    Some criminal groups and the Political Extremists willfully make use of this turmoil situation for their favor.

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