09 October 2012

Two attacks, two lessons

On Sunday, the Secretary of the Judicial Services Commission, Manjula Tillakaratne, was attacked by thugs.  The same day, prominent activist of the Frontline Socialist Party (a breakaway faction of the JVP), Dimuthu Attygalle, had furnace oil thrown at her in Jaffna, where she and others of the Free Women’s Organization were to attend events organized for World Children’s Day in Mavailkaladi.   

The perpetrators are still at large. 

Each such attach that goes un-investigated or where investigation fails to bear fruit, adds to the anxieties about security and law and order.  We are talking about 2 attacks on the same day.  These were preceded by numerous attacks by as yet ‘unidentified’ gangs.  Journalists, lawyers, judges, doctors, politicians and others have been attacked and some have even been killed, but in a vast number of cases the perpetrators have not been brought to book.

So who is doing all this?  Ghosts?  Grease Yakku?  Aliens?

People attack other people when they are angry.  They attack if they want to exact revenge.  They attack in defence.  They attack in order to rob.  Some attack in order to intimidate.  Some do it on contract. 

The victims were not robbed.  They have not given cause, as far as we can tell, for any individual to seek revenge.  They were not belligerent in any manner that warranted retaliation.  All we know is that both have in word and deed or both angered some people or caused alarm.  Not because they were planning to assault, rob or kill though.  They’ve done nothing illegal and even if they did, that’s a matter for law enforcement authorities and in general the justice system. 

Whereas Tillakaratne has certainly ruffled feathers in certain quarters of the power structure, Dimuthi may have only irked some local politician.  Dimuthu, who was abducted on an earlier occasion, came out as a sober, down-to-earth activist who is not given to exaggeration, not even for political gain.  Throughout her political life, she’s conducted herself with decorum and with utmost respect for democracy.  Tillakaratne is relatively ‘fresh’.  His political loyalties are known, but that’s irrelevant to the issue at hand.  If he has done anything wrong, then there are mechanisms to deal with him. 

As things stand fingers are being pointed at the Government.  Fingers will continue to be pointed in that direction until the thugs are apprehended.  The Government for its part has done the usual: condemnation and call for investigation.  The other ‘usual’ has also been done: blame some mysterious forces operating to bring the Government into disrepute. 

If it indeed is the Government (and this is not ruled out by any means), then it is serious business, especially the first case because it would clearly indicate that the executive is not only at odds with the judiciary but is seeking to intimidate the latter to submission.  Tillekeratne, let us not forget, did issue a statement on behalf of the JSC demanding that the executive keep its hands off the judiciary and whether or not such statement was warranted is irrelevant here. 

If it is not the Government (and this is not ruled out either) and was indeed the work of people trying to vilify the Government, then it is pretty clear that the Government’s detractors are very well organized and have the means and the will to cause a lot of embarrassment. 

If it is the work of the Government, it shows desperation.  If it is the work of its detractors it shows a boldness that could also be a product of desperation of a different kind, i.e. out of losing faith in democratic forms of engagement, which too is not something that the Government can pat itself on the back about. 

Someone is using the bahubalaya or strong-arm tactics.  It is something that not just the Government but the entire nation should be worried about.  It makes it hard for someone to say ‘happier times are to come’ and harder still for anyone to believe such predictions.


Anonymous said...

You write (good work)
We read (desperate)

They attack (no end)

The government says (Democracy)