JUSTICE for late R.M. Gunaratna Banda – VICTIM of Kandy Hand Grenade: unfairly accused by Sri Lanka’s media
Posted on April 3rd, 2018

 

An isolated incident was given communal flavor & ignited to create mayhem that resulted in destruction of property & even the loss of lives. The inaction of the police, the false dissemination of news by Sri Lanka’s media and the biased & politically motivated statements of the Sri Lankan politicians must take full responsibility for the chaos & the distrust & anger that has ensued. Any event taking place in any part of the country must be truthfully told to the public or left untold. No event should be turned & abused with calculated intent. This is exactly what has happened to late R. M Gunaratna Banda, a 28 year old mason who died a victim of a hand grenade though Sri Lanka’s media claimed he died after the grenade he was carrying exploded before he could cause harm. Such falsehoods must be investigated & the media entity that spread the story must apologize & compensate the aggrieved family.
To highlight the case of late R M Gunaratna Banda the versions of 2 mainstream English newspapers are taken.
1. The Daily FT of 9 March 2018 carried a story written by Chathuri Dissanayake and Himal Kotalawala in Kandy titled A stunned community tries to heal”

What the journalists of the Daily FT are alleging is that R M Gunaratna Banda died as a result of a grenade he was going to throw at a neighbourhood mosque blowing before he could commit the act.
Anyone reading this would automatically feel angered at Gunaratna Banda for what he had planned to do. However this version is not true.
2. Then the Daily Mirror carried a story on 13th March 2018 by Piumi Fonseka titled Violent extremism shows its seeds can grow anywhere” gave a totally different version to that of the Daily FT
How morally correct was it for the media to accuse a father who was preparing to have a sermon at his residence to seek blessings for his wife who was 7 months pregnant with their 2nd child to accuse him of dying as a result of a grenade he was holding blowing up in his hand?
On 7 March he had left home to earn his daily living as a mason. When the family had heard about an attack on the Buddhist temple in Ambatenna, Gunaratna Banda’s mother had been frantically trying to phone her son. Eventually the phone was answered by a nurse who informed them to come to the Kandy hospital.
Ven. Piyarathana Thera of the Mullegama Sri Vidarshanaramaya in Ambatenna said that the temple was attacked by a group of outsiders – were the culprits that attacked the Buddhist temple the same as those that threw the hand grenade that killed Gunaratna Banda? if so who were they, where did they come from? What has taken so long for police to catch the culprits. Why is the media not going after these culprits the same way they are going after the attackers of the mosque & Muslims?
The ethnicity of the culprits is immaterial to the law enforcement authorities. However, we know that it is because the police have compromised themselves to various business people, shady characters & others that the police have tarnished their own image by their actions.
Going back to the case of Aluthgama, let it be reminded that the Buddhist temple & the Buddhist priests had been subject to much ridicule and complaints had been made to the police though no action had been taken. http://www.lankaweb.com/news/items/2014/07/10/sinhala-muslim-riots-sri-lankan-local-media-blackout-on-version-of-ayagama-samitha-thero/
What is important and what the media & commentators conveniently chose to purposely ignore is that the first stone was thrown from the mosque at the walking demonstrators which triggered the action that led to the riots in Aluthgama. This all important acknowledgment of ‘who threw the first stone being accountable’ ends up swept under the carpet with every attention directed at the reaction and not the action.
In the case of Kandy too, what was an isolated incident of 4 drunk men beating up a lorry driver (22 February 2018) who succumbed to injuries on 3 March 2018 ended up in riots following the funeral held the day after that spread to other towns because the police did not take action or took action by releasing the 4 drunk men on bail without charging them for murder.

In the case of Gunaratna Banda, the media has wrongly accused him of dying before he could harm others. Gunaratna Banda does not deserve to have his good name tarnished by a questionable media and editors & owners of the newspapers must at least apologize & compensate his aggrieved family – a wife who would have given birth to her second child who is without a father.

 wife of Gunaratna Banda

While the media is quick to speak of deaths tagging an ethno-minority as a suffix, in the case of a death to a member of the majority Buddhist community, the news is only relayed as a ‘death’ and just an inconsequential number. If anyone is in doubt or questions this statement, all they need to do is to take out the media news clippings by the local & even foreign media & note how they describe the death of the lorry driver Kumarasinghe and the mason Gunaratna Banda.
Similarly, while the media covers & presents the version that the majority attacked the minority there is stoic silent on the attacks to the Buddhist temples & no mention is made about the Muslims that attacked these sites. What is reiterated repeatedly is that no one has any right to attack anyone whatever the reason.
Video of the Ambatenna Buddhist Temple that came under attack https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StFIAEeSxvY
It was only when the Prime Minister after touring Kandy mentioned that Buddhist temples would be compensated that people began to wonder how Buddhist temples were attacked if only Muslims were being attacked.
There were 3 deaths – Kumarasinghe the initial victim, Gunaratna Banda & the third death was of Samsudeen Abdul Basith who had died from breathing difficulty. Kumarasinghe’s death was a murder, so too was Gunaratna Banda’s. Both no media is interested in delivering justice to them.
PM visits Kandy but he does not visit the lorry driver Kumarasinghe’s home to sympathize with the family or Gunaratna Banda’s home either, after all it was as a result of Kumarasinghe’s death by the 4 drunkards that the whole fracas resulted. Maybe PM did visit Kumarasinghe’s home but the media chose not to publish it because it was not newsworthy enough. They were to each receive just Rs.1 lakh. The PM said that the week following his visit after a cabinet meeting Rs.4lakhs would be paid – has it been done and is any official following up on this on behalf of the families?
Whichever version, everyone seems to have completely ignored Kumasinghe the initial victim and Gunaratna Banda the wrongfully accused. Why is that? Is it not politically correct for anyone to speak on behalf of Kumarasinghe or Gunaratna Banda?
It is good for the Buddhist associations to highlight these discrepancies & in particular seek justice for Gunaratna Banda in terms of an apology by the Sri Lankan media for wrongfully projecting him as holding a hand grenade that exploded before he attacked a mosque which has been nothing but media sensationalism & falsehood.
Shenali D Waduge

 

One Response to “JUSTICE for late R.M. Gunaratna Banda – VICTIM of Kandy Hand Grenade: unfairly accused by Sri Lanka’s media”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    2018 HINDU-BUDDHIST riots in Endia have killed 8 so far.

    “http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-43616242”

    Hindus have killed a Buddhist Dalit boy for riding a horse saying horse riding is a pass time of ONLY high caste Hindus. What barbaric Endia!

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