Sunday’s brutal attack by a gang of ruling party thugs including a local government politician on two foreigners at a tourist hotel in Tangalle has left us shocked and dismayed. They came, they saw, they slew!
A British national was killed and his female Russian companion seriously injured in the savage attack, where, the police said, a firearm had been used by the assailants. The government has vowed to bring the killers to justice but its vows are not to be taken seriously. Its well protected, privileged goons have risen above the law.
Given the deplorable manner in which the government has muddied the water as regards the now infamous Mulleriyawa clash, where one of its heavyweights was gunned down and a ruling party parliamentarian injured, it is only wishful thinking that a proper investigation will be conducted into the Tangalle attack. The main suspect, at large at the time of writing this comment, will give himself up to the police through a lawyer and a farcical probe will be conducted into the incident. Nothing will come of the investigation to be conducted, if any, as the government does not want to open up a can of worms. All suspects are very likely to go scot free as no one will dare give evidence against them.
SLFP thugs have killed a foreign tourist at a time their political masters are desperately trying to promote tourism by selling Sri Lanka as a tropical paradise. The deceased was a volunteer who had worked and survived in the trouble-torn Gaza Strip. But, he was not safe in this ‘peaceful’ country! Will a foreigner in his or her proper senses ever want to visit a country where the rule of law has been replaced by the rule of death-dealing desperados? Unless the government repairs the country’s image urgently by ensuring that its goons like those responsible for the Christmas Day killing are arrested, tried and punished for their many crimes, paradise will be lost before long. (It was only the other day that the police swung into action arresting as they did in record time some UNPers who had attacked their own party headquarters during a protest. But, we bet our bottom dollar that our brave law enforcement officers will not have the same high octane performance in dealing with the government thugs responsible for the Tangalle incident!)
As we have pointed out time and again in these columns, the government, having sown the wind, is reaping the whirlwind. It has manifestly lost control over its trigger-happy pet criminals who have become a law unto themselves. The least it could do to make this country a safe place for the law-abiding citizens and foreign tourists is to rein in its goons and crack down on the netherworld of drugs and crime.
The Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) has expressed concern over the rapid deterioration of the law and order situation and recommended that the government ‘take immediate action to disarm persons in possession of unauthorised weapons and also prosecute such offenders’. It also says in its final report among other things: “The political violence accompanied by the use of firearms has caused much concern among the law abiding citizens of this country. The Commission views with concern the escalation of political violence and unlawful possession and use of firearms by politicians and their supporters.”
The government boasts of having neutralised northern terrorism effectively. Yes, it deserves the credit for that feat. But, the country has come to be plagued by a different brand of terrorism unleashed by the ruling party desperados even in President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s stronghold, Hambantota, as we saw on Sunday. The crime rate is alarmingly high and criminals are obviously having a field day. A much advertised crackdown on the underworld was launched a few months ago but it was brought to an abrupt end when the crime busters turned on the ruling party criminals who are a protected species, as it were. The LLRC has rightly pointed out that democracy must ensure ‘a fair system of governance under the Rule of Law rather than the rule of men’.
It looks as if the government had to rush an urgent Bill through Parliament to make special laws to introduce deterrent punishment for exploiting, harassing and harming foreign tourists who must be protected at any cost.