AN EYE WITNESS
I happened to be there at the exact time when rampaging mobs were attacking the shops and the following is an eye witness account by me.
The time was almost 7.15 pm in the evening.
The police were only handling the traffic, no riot police or policemen with batons were present, not even the water canon police truck which they use to disperse the crowds.
On the Airport road an Air Force double cab was parked with many Air Force personnel in uniforms, but when the troubles began they drove away towards Katunayake.
A few khaki clad army soldiers were there with their weapons, but they did nothing to stop the mob. Perhaps there was no officer to command them! The mob consisted of nearly 2000 youth and many were wearing helmets to prevent identification.
The police could have easily stopped the destruction by firing tear gas at them, but they did nothing. Are the tear gas canisters only meant and reserved for the university students or protesters marching towards President’s House?
Then I went to my friend’s home I intended staying in. Straight away I went to the Buddha statue at his home and prayed and did a Satyakriya that no harm should fall to anybody. Luckily nobody was killed. The photo on page five of “The Island” of 15th May depicts the burnt hotel where I used to have snacks and tea. The hotel on the Hadirama junction too has been attacked, while exactly on the other side of the road is a huge Buddha statue. If Buddha is living, he would have surely left for the jungle, unable to bear the things happening.
So many shops were burnt and the flames could be seen over the tree tops. Sane politicians or Christian clergy or Buddhist monks could also have stopped this mob and averted this destruction, but they came out only after the disaster had occurred.
The neighbour of my friend where I stayed is a Muslim, and they did not switch on lights but remained in total darkness due to fear. Real “Endiri neethiya” for them, isn’t it? We felt very uncomfortable to have our lights on while they were engulfed in the dark.
In the morning at 5 am I usually used to hear two loudspeakers chanting Buddhist Sutta, and sermons from the mosque. But on the following morning I heard only the Buddhist Sutta, and no sermons from the mosque, obviously because it was attacked and damaged. I felt very bad about it, to deny any others, their religious rights.
On the following morning when I left Minuwangoda, there were plenty of army soldiers guarding destroyed sites; a case of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.
The bottom line is that Muslims should not get angry. In fact nobody should get angry. If we become angry, then there will be no end to this turmoil. There is law and order in this country to punish wrongdoers, and if that is failing, let us all be united to defeat this government and to find suitable people to serve this country.