Some criminals have got killed during the past few days in what is believed to be a government crackdown on the nether world of crime. Many underworld figures are reportedly on the run for fear of life. The government has promised to clean up the country and the hapless people are deriving some perverse comfort from the current offensives against the underworld, though extra judicial killings are the least desirable way to deal with criminals.
However, the government that boasts of having eliminated terrorism has been rendered impotent by some criminal elements within its own ranks! Kelaniya Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman (SLFP) Prasanna Ranaweera`s predicament is a case in point. His house came under a goon attack on Sunday. He and his family including two little daughters managed to escape unhurt as his neighbours rushed to his aid in time. He has written to President Mahinda Rajapaksa and SLFP General Secretary Minister Maithripala Sirisena seeking their intervention to obviate political violence in the Kelaniya electorate.
Although the attackers have yet to be identified, Ranaweera believes he has become a target because he has antagonised Labour Minister Mervin Silva, who has repeatedly warned him of dire consequences, unless he falls in line. Minister Silva has denied his involvement in Sunday s attack.
We do not intend to hold a media trial but it is unlikely that Minister Silva will be able to clear his name with a mere denial. That the police have not taken action we don`t want to be told that they have deployed special teams to make arrests etc. is a clear indication of interference from on high. Ranaweera says while goons were smashing his window panes, he telephoned the police emergency only to be asked to make a complaint to the Kiribathgoda police station! What is that emergency unit there for? Is it there to direct people in trouble crying out for help to the nearest police station or to rush to their help?
The underworld is highly politicised as we argued the other day in these columns. Criminals at beck and call of ruling party politicians have risen above the law. They get into trouble only when they become an embarrassment to their bosses or decamp. They do not have to fear the on-going anti-crime operations at all they are covered by their political masters` immunity! Even Anamalu Imtias, who was abducted and killed recently, would have been safe, if he had obtained SLFP membership and served the government in the Kelaniya electorate.
If the police and `other outfits` only god knows what they really are! continue to steer clear of pro-UPFA/SLFP criminals responsible for contract killings, extortion, armed robberies and drug peddling, the much advertised Mathata Thitha and anti-crime operations of the government will come a cropper sooner or later.
When arachchi`s dog goes on the rampage and bites people all round, its victims may suffer in silence nursing their wounds but their wrath is certainly directed at its master. Given half a chance, they will give vent to their pent up anger. That is why all arachchis must tether their pet hounds to their doorposts for their own sake rather than others`.
President Rajapaksa blundered by refusing to make Mervin Silva pay for his foray into the Rupavahini Corporation in December 2007. That decision has proved to be a disaster for the government. The probe into the incident was hushed up and goons got so cocky as to target Rupavahini employees with impunity until a settlement was rammed down the victims throats by the government.
Kelaniya has been blessed by the Buddha s feet according to legend. So, it is incumbent upon President Mahinda Rajapaksa to re-launch his anti-crime drive from that holy area which has become a haven for underworld elements of all sorts. He ought to consider the letter from Kelaniya Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman a damning indictment of his government.
Ministers and their birds
Minister of Nation Building and Development Susantha Punchinilame is known for his lateral thinking and acumen. Unlike the ordinary folk going by adages such as A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, he knows `a bird in the zoo is worth four in the hand`. That was why he exchanged two Amherst Pheasants, two hornbills or kendettas for an expensive and rare African grey parrot! He also generously parted with a hambawa or a flying squirrel. If a price could be placed on fauna, then the value of all the creatures he gave the zoo is said to be much less than that of the bird he got.
Following a hullabaloo media reports on this controversial avian deal triggered, Minister Punchinilame returned the parrot to the zoo. He has, however, said he returned it not because of bad publicity he received but due to the fact that he was looking for a mate for a male grey parrot at home and the bird he took from the zoo was also male. The two birds behaved in spite of being together for a few days because they are grey but not gay and therefore, we are told, the zoo bird was sent back. For once, a minister has taken a bird out without first checking on sex!
The National Zoological Garden belongs to the people of this country and its fauna must not be placed at the disposal of whimsical politicians running private zoos. We have already lost enough and more fauna and flora to them all these years.
If there are animal exchange programmes as the zoo director claims, they must be conducted in a very transparent manner without letting every Tom, Dick and Susantha walk in with birds of his choice and remove precious ones in return laughing all the way back home.
We thought only politicians and their hangers on gratified their desires at public expense. We stand corrected. Now we know even their birds have the privilege of doing so! If Minister Punchinilame is so concerned about his parrot, he can donate it to the zoo, where it will find joy, without condemning the poor creature to celibacy.