by An Old Soldier
A thrill starved, gullible Colombo population was once again titillated by the violent behaviour of two vicious sons of politicians.
This time the victim of their behaviour was an army major who was pistol whipped in the car park/foyer of the Hilton Colombo Residence two weeks ago. He looked a sorry sight with two big gashes on either side of his face and one on his head. The alleged assailants looked what they were, wild, addicted and pitiless purveyors of evil.
Colombo, taking time off from the T20s as SL was not playing at Khettarama looked for a gun fight at noon or any other time to make up for a lack of entertainment. They were disappointed. This was not going to be war minus the shooting as it was 1996 when SL became ODI champions.
This was an affray involving civilians. The army if not the assailants knew that this was a matter for the guardians of the law and later for the judges and for no one else. Colombo bowled two no balls.
It was widely expected in Colombo, not without reason that the case against the two addicts would not go far. There were proved both right, wrong and then right. First, the police took their time to arrest the alleged assailants indulging in a charade of examining evidence and highly publicised non searches.
This phase ended in a thick skinned Minister conjuring up religious sanctuaries for criminals. The minister father announced he would have handed over his son if the man assaulted had been in uniform. He was not, so it was open assault season by his son for army men not in uniform.
Next the suspects suddenly surrendered to the police. This was obviously a ploy to reduce the heat in the public mind. They were remanded.
Then came the shock that proved the la dolce vita of Colombo right! But not for the reasons commonly trotted out .Those reasons still prevail. The judges know that as do most others.
The victim Major resiled on his statement to the police and said Wijeratne and Silva who he had accused of assaulting him, robbing his pistol and a gold chain were not the actual assailants. He had discovered his missing gold chain at home! Was it an abject surrender arranged by a patron or was it simply an attempt to preempt damning evidence of conduct unbecoming of an officer being recorded in court? Very curious, getting ‘curiouser’.
The Major now averred he had gone into ‘shock’ after the assault and had named and shamed the wrong rascals. He must have remained in shock only until the accused were remanded. He now recanted to the judges in a sworn statement. He may have thought the courts of law would play ball with him.
The judge stood him up. He asked the police to consider charging the major with making false statements. The Police were referred to the CCTV coverage of the incident. That should be very revealing if not damaging to both sides.
While all this was going on newspapers correspondents went to town with their pet theories. Those who are anti government said an army Court of Inquiry (C of I) was convened to punish the army major for having the brass to accuse the vermin infected duo. Some differentiated Silvas from Wijeratnes.
A brother of one of the miscreants living abroad came waltzing in about elites and what he had seen in Colombo ‘clubs’ meaning drugs, drink and women, possibly blaming Colombo society for the predicament of his brother as he said his family was not really responsible. He said he was a law enforcement officer! No one, even ‘elites’ such as this duo are forced to visit such ‘clubs’.
Some agent’s provocateur wanted the army to go on a rampage so that the attack could be avenged as it apparently was in the ‘old days’. They ignored the fact that when it did so in the ‘old days’ the guilty were well and truely punished. Of course had retaliation taken place it would then be said by the same people with NGO support that the army was running amok. That did not and will not happen in an army that liberated the people from 30 years of terror.
What these men of ill-will needed to know was that the army, by its very regulations, is obliged to hold Courts of Inquiry whenever there is a death, if someone goes missing, someone is injured/wounded, there is an affray especially involving civilians, when there is a loss of military equipment—weapons included, there is fire, a financial loss or fraud.
It is not, as floated by some who know little but write a lot, set up to punish anyone. It does not have such authority. It has to find facts. This it did.
It found out the major was not on duty as he said he was repeatedly. So what was he doing there? Could a casino operator tell us if not the Major? The C of I would surely find all this out. It looks like the Major is in for the high jump.
It is unlikely there will be much sympathy for him within the army or from the public. There was overwhelming support for him at the outset when facts were scarce and only rumours abounded. His dushman (Urdu for enemy) was known to be against all flags. Now he too appears to be beyond the pale.
As for the perpetrators of the violence, let’s see what the courts of justice will do to ensure the primacy of law. It has a long reach, more than the villains or the Major imagined in their limited thinking. It will make no difference whether one was a Silva or another Wijeratne.
At present, the longer term requirement is the riddance of villainy. Don’t blame the Police whatever their flash retorts are when up against the press. They said a mouthful when they admitted that arresting some was not as easy as arresting some others. They only reflect a society which has much more to pay for the wages of its own sins- that of tolerating evil men.
The army reflects the highest expectations of the people. Its Courts of Inquiry deliver. It does not tolerate mercenaries. It is a symbol of, and is always with, law and order.
The country now looks to the law courts to rule on what should happen to all involved in the fracas at Hilton Colombo Residence in which an army Major was assaulted and his weapon robbed. That the two accused sons of politicians have received court’s permission to go abroad makes this case more ‘curiouser’.Courtesy: The Island