The Sri Lankan Government headed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa is engaged in enacting a number of positive measures to honour the memory of Rizana Nafeek and to help uplift her poverty stricken family.
The pathetic plight of Rizana Nafeek who went from Moothoor in Eastern Sri Lanka to Saudi Arabia in April 2005 at the age of 17 to work as a housemaid cum nanny and was unjustly executed there has aroused widespread grief and resentment among Muslims in particular and Sri Lankans in general.
Rizana was accused of murdering a four month old male infant while bottlefeeding it milk and was beheaded on January 9th 2013 after protracted legal proceedings based on a forcibly extracted confession through torture.
Even though the President and other Govt ministers and officials tried to obtain a pardon for Rizana in recent times these attempts came too late to save her.
There is rising dissatisfaction among Sri Lankans in general that the Govt had not acted effectively in the early stages to establish Rizana’s innocence and ensure her release. There is also a feeling that Govt ministers and officials were not telling the whole truth about Rizana’s situation to the nation at large.
Although Rizana is no more and beyond help the Govt has embarked on a program of action to help her family which is in dire straits financially.It was to help uplift her family that Rizana the eldest child in the family ventured out to Saudi Arabia as a housemaid
President Rajapaksa himself is taking keen interest in the matter and has met Rizana’s father Abdul Seyyedu Nafeek, mother Fareena Nafeek and younger brother Mohammed Rifqan Nafeek in Colombo on January 22nd.
After expressing his condolences and explaining the efforts taken by the Govt to secure Rizana’s release ,President Rajapaksa presented the family with Rupees Ten Lakhs as compensation.
The money was given in two cheques of Rs. Five Lakhs each to the father and Mother of Rizana respectively.
The President also awarded a letter of employment to Rizana’s brother Mohammed Rifquan who is currentlt 21 years old. He has been given a job at the Ministry of Foreign Employment promotion and welfare and will take up employment in Trincomalee at an affiliated institution of the ministry.
Apart from this the President had already ordered that a house be constructed at state expense and be given to the family. Already work on this project has commenced at a plot of land belonging to the family at their village of Shafi nagar in Moothoor in the Trincomalee district
In a separate move Sri Lanka Muslim Congress leader and Justice minister Rauff Hakeem visited the family at Shafi nagar in Moothoor and handed over Rupees Three lakhs.
Ranjith Siyambalapitiya the minister of Telecommunictions and Information technology has also visited the Nafeek family in Moothoor and given Rupees Two Lakhs.
Siyambalapitiya has also stated that a road in Moothoor will be upgraded and named after Rizana Nafeek. The road selected is an old road linkinng Rizana; village Shafi Nagar to the Trincomalee-Batticaloa trunk road at the “Periya Paalathady”junction. The three KM long road will be reconstructed and upgraded and named “Rizana Nafeek Veethi”in honour of the maid from Moothoor
Meanwhile Foreign Employment promotion and welfare minister Dilan Perera who has been sharply criticised over the Rizana issue has commenced a program of conducting meetings at Mosque premises and distributing dry rations to poor families in memory of Rizana
500 families received dry rations at a ceremony in a Colombo Mosque last week. The next such event will be at a Mosque in Moothoor
The event at “temple trees” where the President met Rizana;s family also saw a number of Govt leaders and officials attending.
The Govt seems determined to uplift the family of Rizana Nafeek and honour her memory through a number of welfare measures although it has come under flak for failing to save her life.
DBS Jeyaraj can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org