Lest we forget

The 27th commemoration of the massacre of the 400 policemen who were mowed down by the LTTE after they had surrendered to the terrorists on the instructions of the then government was held on Sunday in Ampara with a multi-religious ceremony and attended by the loved ones of the departed policemen. This harrowing incident, which marked one of the blackest episodes of the 30 year civil war, in all too familiar fashion, is now erased from the memories of the general public.They have gone to their unmarked graves unsung and unwept.

No inquiry was held to get to the bottom of this incident nor any individual or individuals called to account for this most barbaric mass massacre of our men in uniform. One would have thought that the Rajapaksa regime would price open this matter, if for nothing else but to gain political mileage from the fact that the incident occurred under a UNP regime. But the former President had very good reasons for not doing so, keeping his own counsel on the matter. For the individual who was directly blamed for the bloody massacre was well ensconced in the bosom of Rajapaksa, not only enjoying ministerial office under his regime but also made an office bearer of the political party he led. What is more, the very individual who was directly responsible for ordering the killing of the 400 policemen, in a supreme irony, was provided a police guard as a government minister and what is more, was waited on and even saluted by the policemen in his security detail. This, from a leader who now accuses the government for carrying out a witch-hunt against war heroes.

The government even at this late stage should do its utmost to see to the welfare of the families of these policemen. They should not be left in want and their every need should be attended to. The fate that befell them would not have occurred had they not obeyed orders to surrender and fought the terrorists. Hence the state has a moral obligation to look after the interests of the families of these policemen. It is also not too late to launch an investigation into this episode and seek out the individual who masterminded this dastardly crime, for the man with these policemen’s blood on his hands is still at large and is seen even addressing political rallies of the Joint Opposition.

Be that as it may, the role played by the police in the war against terrorism has largely gone unhonoured and unrecognized, with the credit for the war victory exclusively going to the tri-forces which had been hogging the limelight right throughout. True, the battle proper was fought by the security forces but it is undeniable that the police played a vital ancillary role that facilitated the whole exercise and in the process losing its men too to terror attacks. While the war was raging, the police, it was, which maintained at least a semblance of law and order in the theatre of conflict and facilitated a skeleton civilian life. It is time therefore that the police too gets the due share of the credit in the final victory over the LTTE. The supreme sacrifice made by 400 of its men alone stands out for the significant and thankless job done by the Police in achieving the final outcome. To them go the nation’s salute.

John bashing

Tourism and Christian Affairs Minister John Amaratunga is no stranger to controversy and is good copy for the print media. But there are times when Amaratunga falls foul with the media as well. Last week saw one such instance when the Minister lost his cool and took some media personnel to task for repeatedly badgering him with questions on the garbage situation in his Wattala electorate. According to Amaratunga the media was not invited to a discussion he had with some of his constituent on the garbage issue and that he was within his right to act the way he did. The Minister, while later apologising for the incident nevertheless made the accusation that certain media personnel were acting to a hidden agenda which he no doubt implied to be political.

Everybody who is somebody in the media circle has jumped the bandwagon in John bashing. One can understand media persons coming to the defence of their colleagues who were subjected to rough treatment by a government Minister. But one cannot fathom how the members of the Joint Opposition can take high ground on behalf of the media. While condemning the incident Gampaha District MP and JO front liner Prasanna Ranatunga says; “This is not the first time that government members have threatened journalists and media institutes”. It would be relevant here to jog the MP’s memory to the episode where Mervyn Silva stormed the SLRC with a band of thugs and ran amok before being manhandled by the employees or the incident where the Sirasa Studio was set ablaze. So much for protecting media institutes. 


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