by Norman Palihawadana and Rex Clementine
Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith the Archbishop of Colombo flayed the government for its lackadaisical attitude and not doing enough to bring those responsible for the Easter Sunday bombings to justice.
Addressing the media, yesterday, in Colombo, the prelate said: “I am not happy with the security measures that have been taken since the attack. I see neither any direction nor any coordination in the efforts that have been taken. Security forces tend to go to places on tip-offs but much more needs to be done I feel.”
The Cardinal revealed that the original target of the Dehiwala suicide attack had been St. Mary’s Church in Dehiwala while the original target of the attack in Batticaloa had been St. Mary’s Cathedral, adjoining St. Michael’s College, Batticaloa.
“The entire Negombo area needs to be searched to prevent further disasters. When the authorities question some people and release them, they can flee the country. At least, their passports should be impounded,” the 71-year-old Cardinal said.
“I hear that the President has appointed a committee but I doubt whether anything meaningful will be done by these committees. These committees have been appointed in the past, too, but results are not known.”
The Cardinal said: “I must appreciate the patience that the people have shown after Easter Sunday’s attacks. Even if Parliamentarians and politicians were behind these attacks – directly or indirectly – people expect them to be arrested, questioned and punished if they have any connections. We will take to streets if these issues are not addressed.
“We are again assuring our Muslim brothers that no harm will befall them and we will protect them. When Jesus died on the cross, he wanted his persecutors forgiven because they didn’t know what they were doing. That’s the religion we preach. I would like to remind the Catholics the words of Jesus. These people who have taken arms are mislead. We will show compassion towards them.”
“I am disappointed that despite intelligence reports available from 4th April onwards, precious little had been done by authorities. These people are conveniently shifting the blame to others. Instead, they need to apologize for their failures because they are at fault. Soon after the first attack, my secretary sent messages to all the Churches to stop Easter Sunday services for the rest of the day and we were able to prevent more disasters.”
The Papabile went on to reveal that limited Sunday masses would be held from next Sunday onwards and there would be vigilance committees set up in each parish to monitor the situation. “Some churches usually have six masses on Sundays and this will be reduced to two masses,” he said.
The Cardinal also criticised the delay in introducing new legislation to criminalise terrorist activities. “I am not sure whether bringing new laws is the need of the hour. There will be a debate on this and it will drag on. We already have laws needed to prevent terrorism and what needs to be done is to amend some of these laws to make sure wrongdoers do not get away with their crimes. Some people I believe tend to delay passing these laws purposefully.”
“When I listen to some of the political speeches, I feel there’s no unity. Politicians are trying to get cheap publicity. All what the politicians have done is to shift the blame to the other person without owing up to their mess.”
The cardinal said a committee had to be appointed to look into the incidents and Buddhist monks could be appointed to it as a neutral party.