Post-mortem
Posted on May 25th, 2019

By Dr. Tilak S. Fernando Courtesy Ceylon Today

Customarily a post-mortem is done within 24 hours after a person’s tragic death, but it has taken more than a month to write about Sri Lanka’s atrocities that took place on Easter Sunday, 21 April 2019.

First and foremost, it was impossible to think how some of the bombers came from respectable families, who had been brainwashed into thinking that by killing anyone against Wahhabism in Islam faith would end up in heaven! The aim of this column is not to focus on the perished souls but to concentrate on the responsibilities forsaken by the Government of Sri Lanka and its failure on the hierarchical communication system.

Since the calamity, an expatriate Sri Lankan Group has written to President  Maithripala Sirisena and the Prime Minster Ranil Wickremesinghe highlighting how the Government grossly failed in its collective primary duty in underestimating the threat posed by the Islamist terrorists. They make their recommendations to avoid a recurrence of this scale!


national Threat Level System


In their top priority list comes the appointment of a person with military experience to the position of Secretary of Defence; secondly, to strengthen the national Security Council (NSC); thirdly to establish a Single Source of Communication regarding national Security matters and through this authority to provide a daily security briefing to the public (at least for the next three months); fourthly, to use online channels to respond to rumours and to make any immediate counter announcements as necessary; fifthly to put a stop to Government Ministers making ad-hoc statements, which are likely to gain political mileage and finally, to establish a single NSC Twitter feed and a Facebook page and to ensure it is updated regularly. The most important aspect of their recommendation is to establish a national Threat Level System which is detailed in point form in the letter to the PM and President with a view to continuing with strong action to prevent any backlash against any community.


Easter Sunday


President Sirisena was in Singapore at the time of the disaster. His version (on TV and at various other platforms) confirmed how he became aware of the incident from social media (Facebook)’! The Prime Minister cast off his responsibilities by stating, he was never invited to any of the Security Council Meetings for six months”!

Venerable Mawarale Baddhiya Thero, a well-respected Buddhist monk, who usually devotes his time on Buddhist discourses (applicable to modern day living) was highly critical of the leaders of the present regime for their inability to save the country from a national disaster. ‘Such irresponsible and childish utterances filtered through to the international media have made Sri Lanka a laughing stock, he commenced his reproach. Denouncing PM’s approach, the Venerable Thera said, Ranil Wickremesinghe was free to express his personal ideas or utter any gibberish openly, but as the Prime Minister of this nation, he had to be more responsible in his approach and statements on a matter of national security!”

Warning Alert

Despite DIG Priyalal Dissanayake’s warning of an imminent terrorist attack, which he received on 4 April 2019 from Indian intelligence Service, to the IGP and the Defence Secretary, it has now been established what both of them adopted was a lackadaisical approach by ‘minuting’ the document and circulating in the normal administrative snail space procedure.

Everyone directed an accusing finger at the IGP and Defence Secretary for shirking their official responsibilities, the Defence Secretary, in particular, was chastised for speaking to a foreign journalist how he viewed the red alert warning with a pinch of salt and the ‘hotels had to seek their own security’! What an arrogant and irresponsible utterance in the face of a national disaster? Well, paying for their sins, the IGP was sent on compulsory leave, and Hemasiri Fernando had to quit his job. The new Solicitor General, who assumed duties only a few days ago, had directed criminal investigations against both officials’ failure to act on intelligence warnings about the Easter Sunday holocaust.

Crocodile tears

It is customary for the Government of Sri Lanka to shed crocodile tears, immediately after an incident because the Government doesn’t adopt a public policy, and officials and politicians deem to think as they please, or purposely take the omniscient attitude to nurture themselves. Due to this very fact, no one officially accepted responsibility for the sloppiness of protecting national security, which created a fear psychosis throughout the country, because of this very reason the confidence in the government is at rock bottom.

The closing of schools for over a week initially was its first proof. Parents naturally refused to send children to school when allegations became rampant about politicians’ and security personnel’s children were securely kept at home! The unrest managed to increase a sense of panic, ambiguity, mistrust and bitterness among parents, this is  natural. Authorities, in the meanwhile, appeared to be engaged in a game of political ping-pong and passing the buck. If a national disaster of this magnitude were to take place in any other country, the whole government would have resigned out of shame!

Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith

His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith suppressing his solemn feelings pronounced, the Government should have at least informed him about the red alert warnings received by Sri Lanka Intelligence so that he may have been able to help in avoiding such a catastrophe. Politicians responsible for the Easter Sunday attack should be expelled; Some of them are living freely and pretending to be saints, but they should remember that though they are not punished by the people, they will be punished by God,” declared a grieved Cardinal.

When combined efforts of the Security Forces managed to unearth caches of weapons and ammunition, while arresting scores of suspects, who seemed to have had links with Islamist terrorism, it gave rise to a fear psychosis among people of a possible second attack on schools and Buddhist temples, as heaps of yellow robes, women’s skirts and Army camouflage suits were unearthed from different parts of the country.

This fear was triggered by an incident when a man wearing a Burka was arrested by Police, which undoubtedly managed to raise unexpected anxiety among the innocent Muslim population expecting an uprising by Sinhala radical mobs, yet the timely action by Muslim leaders and the clergy managed to diffuse any anti-Muslim sentiment by appearing on TV and stating, ‘The Quran does not prescribe the burqa, but women’s head had to be covered with a scarf or dupatta’; Meanwhile, the Ministry of Religious and Cultural Affairs warnings not to use mosques for radicalising congregations managed to calm the situation.

Still, there hangs issues with regard to the ideological attitude of the Government for not implementing the law to the very letter – meaning  The Law is applicable to everyone irrespective of status or power”. This is again due to the Government’s placid attitude of summoning a few to the CID and ignoring powerful members of the Government, such as Rishad Bathiudeen, to record a statement, which in a manner will absolve him from barrages of accusations against the Minister, rather than permitting him to issue press releases and Media briefings about his innocence (as he claims).

The biggest headache for the government at present is about the Minister of Trade & Commerce, Rishad Bathiudeen, who is alleged to have had allegiance with the Islamist terrorists and particularly having connections with the Chairman of Colombo Traders’ Association (CTA), Y. M. Ibrahim, who is now in detention. Ibrahim’s son was declared as one of the suicide bombers responsible for the recent carnage. The Minister, of course, vehemently denies any official dealings or personal connections with Ibrahim and stresses how strong believers they are of Islam. Allah does not approve terrorism or fundamentalism, and I am not connected to terrorists nor do I support terrorism,” assures the Minister.

However, the latest uproar over the Army Commander’s statement how the Minister Rishad Bathiudeen phoned him thrice to enquire about Ibrahim has made the Government somewhat uncomfortable. The Minister has so far confirmed that he did not exert pressure on anyone into releasing any suspect connected with the Easter Sunday attack”. Responding to the Army Commander’s statement in particular to the Media, the Minister admits that on two occasions he made enquiries about the suspects on a request from the parents but did not ask for their release’. The Army Commander’s version is that the Minister phoned him three times, and on the third count he (Army Commander) had asked the Minister to phone him again in eighteen months”! So, it is a matter up to the public to decide upon who is right or wrong!

No-Confidence Motion

The opposition has already handed over a ‘No-Confidence Motion’ against Minister Rishad Bathiudeen to the Speaker, mainly because it is said that ‘the Minister has been able to stain the reputation of the entire Muslim community’. However, according to the Leader of the House, the Speaker will be compelled to reject the No- Confidence Motion, due to an error on the date mentioned therein. Are people to expect another spectacle?

Whatever said and done, Sri Lankans as a nation should be able to live in harmony, as before  and over the past so many centuries, but isolation of the entire Muslim community due to Islamist terrorism will only drive the whole community into the hands of the extremists and terrorists.

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