Punish the culprits | Daily News

Punish the culprits

News reports yesterday that charges are to be filed against 32 persons who were directly or indirectly involved in the Easter Sunday carnage, no doubt, would have been received with a resounding nod by the Catholic community, especially members of the families who fell victim to this horrendous tragedy.

Responding to a query raised in Parliament on Wednesday, Public Security Minister Rear Admiral (Ret.) Sarath Weerasekera said that no sooner the Presidential Commission of Inquiry is concluded, charges would be filed against them based on evidence gathered. He added that 243 persons are in custody for their connection in aiding and abetting the Easter bombings.

Of course, the prosecution will be based on the concluded investigations by the Police, CID and the TID who would have unearthed concrete evidence against the suspects to warrant their arraignment. 

But there are other top rungers among the former Yahapalanaya leadership who appear not to figure prominently in the CID/TID investigations, but whose role in neglecting to take preventive action against the tragedy too should also be subjected to scrutiny and the full force of the law applied against such elements for their criminal negligence. True, several leaders presented themselves at the CID headquarters for questioning and it is hoped the Special Presidential Commission of Inquiry will act on the testimonies given and take cognizance of their overall responsibility for the tragedy.    

The proceedings of the Commission that were regularly reported in the media leave no doubt as to the culpability of several actors in the top echelons of the Yahapalana Government but for whose negligence and apathy the tragedy could well have been averted.

This is exactly what His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith has been alluding to time and again when he said that not just the executors of the crime but also those who knew of the impending tragedy and acted in cavalier fashion too should be held accountable and brought to justice.

Not stopping at that His Eminence also wants the Government to identify the real masterminds who made out the blueprint with the ultimate perpetrators acting only as mere agents of this foreign power.

No one will disagree with Cardinal Ranjith on this score. No justice will be served on the victims who perished or were maimed for life unless the hidden hands behind the whole affair and those who neglected to take preventive action are exposed.

There were many top rung members of the Yahapalana administration including a Provincial Governor who had a hand in getting some of the extremist elements who were eventually linked to the bombings, released from police custody and also high-ranking officers of the Police who either soft pedaled the investigations on the arrested extremists or were responsible for releasing suspects in custody. All these should be probed and the big fish behind the tragedy named and shamed.        

There was even a voluble Yahapalanaya Minister who had valuable information in his possession that could have shed light on what was in store that fateful Easter Sunday had such information been made known to the Church or the law enforcement beforehand.

There were also the top leaders of the Yahapalanaya who appeared before the Commission liberally passing the ball on to others for the lapses and others feigning ignorance and even sporting memory lapses in miserably trying to defend themselves – all of whom should be held culpable for the deaths of 300 innocents and rendering over 600 others maimed for life.

Hopefully His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith would be vindicated in his relentless pursuit of justice on behalf of the members of his flock who were made to perish through the criminal negligence of those on whom devolved the primary duty of protecting the country’s citizens. Needless to say, His Eminence earned the respect and reverence of the Catholic community at a time of grave provocation in calming tempers and emotions and preventing a retaliatory bloodbath for which he also earned the esteem and admiration of all members of other faiths particularly the Buddhist clergy who rallied behind him showering their assistance and commiserating with the Cardinal at the tragedy that befell his flock.

This, at a time the when the country’s leadership was woefully found wanting and groping in the dark, as it were, with the then President and the Prime Minister pointing the accusing finger at each other and the country’s security in a shambles with the people bracing themselves for further attacks.

Hence, what is hoped for by the families of the victims is for exposure of the whole setup for the extent of dereliction of duty, negligence and downplaying of the threat even after intelligence reports from a neighbouring country of the imminent attack, rather than only focus on the bottom-line agents who planned and carried out the bombings. Nothing short of this will appease those who are still suffering the consequences of their loss and certainly His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith in his quest for seeing that justice is done to his bereaved flock.