This operation in a suburb of Colombo, was conducted with more frenzy and fervour than any air raid or ground attack against Tiger hide-outs in the north.
Though many in the defence establishment were unaware, the aim was to catch red handed those leaking information. Undoubtedly those reports on fat commissions and grave omissions have hurt them.
For well over two weeks, they hid behind a temple, lamp posts, telegraph poles and even in three wheelers outside the scribes house waiting in earnest for the suspects to arrive. Whether it is out of frustration or anger is not clear but things appear to have gone awry.
A seemingly covert operation became alarmingly overt. The operatives told suspicious neighbours (clergy included) that they were observing terrorist activity in the scribes house. When visitors arrived, they stood brazenly behind vehicles noting down registration numbers. Household staff were followed to the grocery store or the photocopy bureau. Everytime gates were open, they stood on the opposite side of the road peeping right in. It went on, even at midnight and the wee hours.
The blatant intrusion of privacy and the deliberately staged conspicuousness prompted the scribe to complain to the highest in the land. She responded within hours by asking the new ministering colleague for media to promptly attend to the matter.
The young man, bent on creating not only a credible media but one free of harassment, responded. He had checked with the legitimate State agencies (snoopers and sleuths) but the bosses had denied any such act. So he advised the scribe to complain to the local Police.
Alas, a mole in the system gave the show away. If he warned the scribe earlier that such action was in the offing, this time he gave details of the operatives. No wonder they became the subject of colour photographs.
Whether official or not, the man who put together the operation is no ordinary Jonny, but a high flyer who has developed a taste for good living. He was of course helped by cronies in the old boy network.
The operatives involved have been dubbed AFP - absolutely foolish people. Of course there were also the brownies giving the much required side support not to mention a few civilian buddies.
The mole says the operation is very much on though it is seemingly off. This time no parades but peeping from corners and going past in Hi-ace vans. Has it been prompted by the leaders absence, he asked.
Is it a case of a government within a government or a handful taking a leaf from the dark old days of the past ?
Unlike Oliver Twist who asked for more (or wanted more is appropriate in todays context), scribes cannot hope for that. They could only pray for a safe environment, free of fear and harassment to write without let or hindrance. Not for this band of sick men. I know they will fly into a rage.
After all, democracy and human rights (or wrongs) are of no consequence to them.
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