Politically motivated mud-brigades in action?
Posted on June 14th, 2021

S. AKURUGOA

As per the media reports, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), under a special team, has been tasked with investigating those who are misleading the public by spreading false propaganda on social media. Police Spokesman DIG Rohana has said it is an offence punishable under Section 98 of the Police Ordinance, that if anyone disturbs the public by publishing fake news. Minister of Public Security Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekara too confirmed this move in his recent speech in the Parliament describing how false propagandists were misleading public against him and his close relatives.

There should not be any argument as to the existence of freedom of expression in a democratic society. Although citizens have the freedom of expression, but they also must have a responsibility and respect other people’s rights. The country is facing a difficult situation due to Corona pandemic similar to all the other countries in the rest of the World. Country needs the support of its people more than anything else at this stage to get rid of this pandemic. The current government was elected by the people just less than 2 years ago with nearly two third majority and if a politician or an individual believes this is an opportunity to mislead people to topple the government, that indicates nothing but his/her extent of stupidity.

 No government is perfect any ware in the world, same as any human being.    Every citizen has the right to criticize the government and its activities, but it needs to be constructive and not destructive. Law enforcement authorities, in any democracy,  may restrict this right if they can show that their action is lawful, necessary and proportionate in order to protect national security, territorial integrity, public safety, health, the rights and reputations of other people, prevent disorders or crimes etc.

Divaina editorial dated 6th June 2021 under the title which roughly translated in to English means  ‘overthrowing governments and overthrowing toilet buckets’ too, quite rightly exposed some of the individuals (by name  and giving examples) who are responsible for   spreading politically motivated rumours, identifying the extent of harm done by them to the country at large at this crucial stage . Some of these politically motivated mushroom rumour-mongers are appearing in media as convenors of various citizens’ organisations and similar NGOs organisations which we have not heard before. Some of them are appearing as so-called journalists, environmentalists, academics and specialists representing various professions.

We remember how similar politically motivated movements with strong evidence   having links to LTTE going under various names, came out with their usual slogans of ‘free’, ‘fair’, ‘abduction’, ‘human rights’, etc. which were useful to the terrorist outfit and risking the security of the country and its leaders and attempted to manipulate the situation to discredit the government during the three decades of war against terrorism. We also remember how some politicians, parliamentarians, NGO personal, academics, journalists and even some of the servicemen who were serving the LTTE in various ways. Some of these personal were said to be in the payroll of the LTTE. Thus this is not the first time that incidents of treacherous acts of people were reported.

Unlike those days, apart from television channels and websites, we have facebook, various YouTube channels, WhatsApp etc providing information/ communication which are helpful to the public in general.  Unfortunately, these developments appear to be providing more avenues for the treacherous elements to enhance their activities via social and other electronic media.

Thus the obvious question, that arises after noticing the above activities identified in the said editorial of the news paper, is, – are we expecting to compromise the future of a nation, against those who call themselves journalists, environmentalists, activists, convenors,  specialists etc and manage to get access to the media and engage in deliberately publishing fake news which are harmful to maintain the public security, religious and communal harmony, religious believes,  public health   etc causing inconvenience to the country and its people?

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