The war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam has been won by the Government. As Aristotle has said, “It is not enough to win a war; it is more important to organise the peace”. How are we doing in this respect? On October 4, 2021, the Ven. Hadigalle Wimalsiri Thera, accompanied by many other [...]

Sunday Times 2

When peace is not at peace with itself


The war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam has been won by the Government. As Aristotle has said, “It is not enough to win a war; it is more important to organise the peace”. How are we doing in this respect?

On October 4, 2021, the Ven. Hadigalle Wimalsiri Thera, accompanied by many other monks representing the Bhikku Front, met the IGP. They brought to the attention of the IGP of some disturbing incidents detailed in a written petition asking for an inquiry. They informed the IGP that several temples were visited by Police who told the priests that an Easter Day type of attack on temples was possible and asked the priests to organise their own security. They wanted this matter inquired into and be kept informed whether the Government will launch an investigation. The priests gave a media interview after meeting the IGP.

Statesman par excellence, Ronald Reagan said, “Peace is not absence of conflict; it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means”. Now, that is statesmanship. Do we have even a semblance of it here?

At present in Sri Lanka, peace is not at peace with itself. At best, peace is restless, impatient and agitated. There is constant struggle that shroud peace. Beneath the shroud there now appears a leaning towards change to a higher gear of strife for yet higher lucre.

In like manner of the police visits to Buddhist temples, some Catholic Churches have been visited by Navy personnel who warned the priests in similar vein. Fr Cyril Gamage spoke on behalf of these churches and due to much public consternation. The priest asked for an inquiry since he doubted the bona fides of the Navy. An immediate reply from the Navy said this was done by a mistake. The doubts grew to more apprehensions. The Catholic Church is asking for a proper inquiry.

The Buddhist Front at a later media conference spoke of another Buddhist priest activist who had said that he had specific information of an attack by the ISIS, that he even knew of where some weapons/bombs were hidden, adding the informant had given correct information earlier. They asked for due inquiry. No inquiry has been launched by the authorities — they lament.

Instead, the minister in charge of the Police went public that this was only a drill, meaning perhaps it was just a practice exercise. That statement of the Minister only threw some further mud into the swamp. And if this was a cover-up story of the Government, it was an attempt plainly puerile; a want of intelligence the Minister repeatedly displays.  They all asked for an astute public statement from the IGP. That too was not forthcoming.

From the viewpoint of law and order, all these are seriously disturbing. On the one hand, their effect is one of upheavals, in the normal order. On the other hand, there may be strife and discord desired, sufficient to disturb law and order; peace and security. They are either seismic terrors or strivings for profit much lower on the ‘Richter scale’ (Not the magma).

The Navy, left to themselves, will do a good job as often proved, not when ‘admiralty’ interfered with them as at Ja-ela. The Navy has for long years acquitted themselves so well without interference. Misdirection took some as far off as even Mullaitivu.  COVID-19 was harvest time for many in the Task Force. Extortion, criminal breach of trust, misappropriation and cheating reaped good profit with the virus. The problem is not in the stars but in us driven as underlings, such as these.

The Police Minster could not have directed the Navy, which means some higher authority showed the way. It is all the more regretted that people of the robe, of the cassock, are exploited in this way. The compunction is all the more when religion of all colour is subjugated in this manner. This only means that religion is so little to those who would make the most of the faith and belief of the adherents, as are useful to them.  Perhaps some good will yet come of this performance that it will not be repeated, or that a more intelligent cleverer ploy may in the future be deployed. Once is too often, twice is stupid.

It is refreshing to note, on the other hand, the Navy rescue of two elephants from the deep sea. The Navy did so with all the competence at their command to take the two elephants to firmer ground and thence to the jungle. The Navy can do a good job efficiently, if only left to them. This instance is singled out to indicate that they do not need the direction and misdirection from elsewhere. The same goes by and large, with the Army, the Air Force and the Police, whatever the services entrusted to them.

Religion is then not merely the opium of the masses, to be exploited. Beyond the insensibility to religion so displayed is the remorse that such showing reflects poorly on the religious leaders; Mahanayakas, Cardinals, Ulamas, Presbyters etc. that much use, even misuse, of their conviction takes place despite the best efforts of some. Regretfully, religion can also be subverted to energise efforts of those who can collect lucre from religion.

Uneasy then lies the crown that pursues strife in place of peace. What Dwight Eisenhower said is appropriate here: “I think that people want peace so much that one of these days government had better get out of the way and let them have it.”

(The writer is a Retired Senior Superintendent of Police.
He can be contacted at -
TP 077 44 751 44)


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