The dastardly attack on Secretary of the Working Journalists` Association Poddala Jayantha must be condemned unreservedly by one and all. He was waylaid on Monday in full view of the public at the Embuldeniya junction and bundled into a white van according to eyewitnesses. Tonsured and injured at the hands of his assailants, he is now receiving treatment at the National Hospital.
Media rights activists are blaming the government for the attack on the grounds that the abductors had used a white van normally associated with the ruling party thugs. The government, too, has condemned the incident. Media Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa condemning the attack yesterday told a media briefing in the same breath that some businessmen, journalists, military personnel and ex-MPs were being probed for their alleged links with the LTTE. We are intrigued! What does this queer juxtaposition of his condemnation of the attack on Jayantha and a serious yet unsubstantiated allegation against journalists really mean? We hope it does not mean that terror links are being cited in extenuation of deplorable attacks on journalists perceived to be or are hostile to the government.
A media person was quoted by this newspaper yesterday as having said a government that traced and destroyed Prabhakaran must be able to apprehend those who attacked Jayantha. This argument sounds tenable to a great extent but the question is why those who are peddling it never campaigned for eliminating terrorism and restoring the rule of law in the North and the East. Is it that they did not want democracy to be revived in the North and the East at the expense of the LTTE?
Whenever journalists come under attack, a government in power naturally becomes the prime suspect unless proper investigations are carried out. During the past few months several journalists were assaulted almost in a row. The Sunday Leader editor Lasantha Wickremetunga was assassinated in January. The government promised a speedy probe but nothing has yet come of it. Investigations into violence against Keith Noyahr, Upali Tennakoon and others have gone the same way. If the government is to clear its name, it must probe those incidents and apprehend the culprits. Better late than never!
Meanwhile, the government must name the journalists on the LTTE`s payroll without further delay if it has evidence to that effect. Its failure to do so will only mean it is propagating a blatant lie to justify a witch hunt against the media.