Orchestrated violence or not Blame Game Continues
Posted on March 12th, 2018

By Shivanthi Ranasinghe

The plan to oust Ranil Wickremesinghe, from both premiership and from the United National Party leadership, was hatched from within the UNP itself. The initiative taken by the UNP middle rung attracted many supporters, including Maithripala Sirisena. The fact that he only secured the presidency by partnering with Wickremesinghe or that he fared even worse at the just concluded Local Elections hardly mattered. Such is the unpopularity of our incumbent premier.

The only person who remained unperturbed by this move to send Wickremesinghe packing was only Wickremesinghe. For him, it was business as usual even while stalwarts from his own party were partnering with their archenemy the Joint Opposition to bring a No-Confidence motion in Parliament to oust him from the premiership. When he flew to Singapore, a cartoonist depicted the irony by caricaturing Wickremesinghe playing a string instrument while flames were licking his posterior end.

Amidst reports that Wickremesinghe secretly met the disgraced former Central Bank Governor, Arjuna Mahendran, in Singapore, curious things were happening in Sri Lanka. First in Ampara and then in Kandy Muslim property came under attack allegedly by the Sinhalese. Allegedly Muslims reciprocated and the Kandy situation became an utter mess.

In the Ampara incident, couple of youth who were having a meal from a Muslim owned eatery had found a partially dissolved tablet. The owner when questioned by this group admitted that these were ‘sterilization’ tablets. Incensed, the group strengthened by participants who very conveniently were attending a nearby funeral attacked number of shops and even a mosque. A sample of the offending gravy had already been sent to the Government Analyst.

In the meantime, Director General Dr Anil Jasinghe issued a statement that there are no pills to cause permanent sterility in humans. The only way is via surgery, he noted. While that is true, a leading gynaecologist pointed out that there are drugs used to cure serious illnesses like cancer that may lower the sperm count or result in impotency. Whether such a drug was indeed used or not will be revealed by the Government Analyst’s report.

Sri Lanka Muslim Congress leader Rauff Hakeem also pooh-poohed the notion that Muslims are trying to permanently sterilize the Sinhalese. He also highlighted that there are no such “sterilization” tablets. This is a plot to turn Sinhalese and Muslims against each other, he cautioned.

To coincide with the incident, an old news clip began to be circulated in social media. It is about the confiscation from several warehouses in Pettah of 22,000 kg of fennel that has been mixed with another spice. Dr. Sunethra Kariyawasam from The Auryvedic Hospital interviewed in the news clip explained that this spice that has medicinal properties and should not be consumed regularly and certainly not without a doctor’s guidance. If taken in regular doses can cause termination in pregnancies. Why this news clip is again making fresh rounds at this time is curious indeed.

Just as the Ampara incident was concluding, Muslims came under attack again in Teldeniya and Digana in the Kandy District. The cause for the eruption appears to stem from an incident of road rage that had ended with the most unfortunate of consequences. A lorry driver, assaulted by four Muslim youths, succumbed to his injuries the following day. The victim was a father of two young children.

The situation thereafter deteriorated very quickly and the Police was unable to contain it. President Sirisena directed an ‘impartial investigation’ to be conducted to assess the reason for the unrest, when in fact the law demanded the culprits be arrested. Curfew was imposed, schools were closed down, the troops were called in to control the situation and a State of Emergency had to be declared.

In the aftermath, an interesting blame game is being played out by a number of entities. Leader of the House Lakshman Kiriella rescued his Government by laying the blame squarely on the intelligence authorities. Speaking in Parliament, at the debate called to discuss the prevailing tense situation, he said the intelligence authorities should have recognized the possibility of communal unrest, when the assaulted victim died.

He further elaborated, “Gangs who destroyed the properties of Muslim people were not residents of Teldeniya or Digana. They are outsiders and entered those areas after the death of a Sinhalese person. We saw some of them during the recent Ampara communal unrest as well. But the intelligence authorities failed to recognize the threat; which even other people had raised concerns about, pertaining to outsiders entering the areas after the Sinhalese person died.”

Executive Director of the Centre for Human Rights Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon on the other hand laid the blame squarely on the Government. According to him, certain leading figures behind the Aluthgama clashes in 2014 are associates of a “powerful minister” and they are also behind these clashes.

He while failing to identify this minister or to note whether this minister was, also, a part of the previous administration reveals, “Many people were transported to Digana from other areas after BBS heavyweights visited Digana and attended the funeral.” The Police, he added, were deployed since 5 a.m., outsiders started arriving from around 6.30 p.m. and the attack commenced around 1 p.m. Thus the Police had time to disperse the crowds, but did not.

It must be remembered that the Aluthgama clashes played a pivotal role in estranging the Muslim vote block from the previous Government. It was this alienation that proved to be a prime factor in toppling that administration, believed by many to be invincible. The regime changers then cleverly identified the pillar of support the Muslim community was to the then government and the close bond cultivated by the war winning President, Mahinda Rajapaksa. This bond was a strength, not only in the home front, but also in the international arena, as well.

This was revealed by MR while expressing his concerns over this Government co-sponsoring the Geneva Resolve in 2015. He explained, “In the last months of the war, in 2009, when Sri Lanka was fast losing foreign reserves due to severe global economic recession that year and the IMF was under pressure from the Western nations and was delaying the standby facility that we were entitled to, Muammar Gaddafi agreed to lend USD 500 million to Sri Lanka in response to a single phone call from me. If not for that pledge, the economy would have collapsed before the war could be won.”

From the recently concluded election results, especially from the Beruwela results, it became apparent that the Muslim voters are returning to MR’s camp. With the Provincial Council, Presidential and then General elections all looming within the space of two years, this is a worrisome factor to the incumbent government for two crucial reasons.

The first being its 2015 victory was only possible after alienating the Muslim voters from the then administration. The second reason is that with Wickremesinghe at the helm, defeat is assured and hence the agitation from the UNP itself to get rid of him. Thus, preventing the Muslim vote base seeping back to the MR Camp might be a levelling of the playing field, as it were. From the international perspective, most of the influential Islamic nations have proved to be our all-weather friends. Theldeniya incident coinciding with the ongoing UNHRC sessions in Geneva are perfect to alienate them.

On the whole, wittingly or unwittingly, these recent clashes have been very profitable for this government and especially Wickremesinghe. Due to the prevailing situation, the no-confidence motion against him has been postponed as well as the Pohottuwa’s victory rally.

What this Government did and what the previous administration failed to do was a commission to investigate the Aluthgama incident. Then, Ginthota, Ampara and Theldeniya all with the same hallmarks, might not have not occurred. Either way, we have enough hindsight to know that these are not ethnic clashes, but purely for the benefit of local and geopolitical agendas.

2 Responses to “Orchestrated violence or not Blame Game Continues”

  1. Christie Says:

    Thanks Shivani.

    What we see is the one hand of multi handed Indian God’s work.

    2015 Presidential election was won by the India supported candidate Sirisena by Sobitha dividing the Sinhala vote on Corruption allegations against MR, JHU and BBS alienating the Muslim votes with attacking Muslims and the Indian block vote voting for the Indian sponsored Candidate Sirisena.

    Chandrika worked for India as her father did.

  2. Dilrook Says:

    I did a complete regression analysis of 2018 election. Here is how it compares with 2015 for Mahinda.

    Ethnic Group………….2015 %………………….2018 %



    Clearly Mahinda totally lost Tamil and Muslim votes this time.

    TMVP and EPDP did somewhat well contesting alone but they will not automatically support Mahinda again.

    Interestingly, SLFP did well among Tamils and in some Muslim areas. They even managed to win some key Tamil/Muslim areas like Eravur, Kathankudy and a LG in Vavuniya. In terms of minority votes SLPP has now fallen behind TNA, ACTC, SLMC, ACTC, NC, UNP and SLFP.

    Beruwala DS Division has a 64% Sinhala majority which is divided into Beruwala UC (large number of Muslims but not entirely) and Beruwala PS. Mahinda won both. The former is the only Tamil/Muslim majority area won by SLPP.

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