This dislodging operation on Thursday seemed to have come as a desperate move by the government. The authorities obviously have to discharge their duty of ensuring the safety of the people. There is increasing public demand that the government should take effective action to stop the destruction of life and property and disruption of normality as a result of endless terrorist acts of violence carried out particularly in the capital city.
The roadblocks and other security measures carried out continuously have to some extent checked the movement of terrorists. But they have not succeeded in putting an end to the periodic bomb blasts, killings and other criminal acts carried out by terrorists. This task of ensuring complete safety in a city with a resident population of over two million and another several lakhs visiting it daily, is obviously extremely difficult.
Lodges, boarding houses, slums and other nooks and corners in the city provide safe places for terrorists to operate from. Even imposing mansions in Colombo and suburbs could be places giving accommodation for them, perhaps unwittingly. The security forces have found that it is from these many and varied places that suicide bombers and other terrorists conduct their operations. Hence the demand from them for clearing these places as quickly as possible.
The statements made by government spokesmen show that it is at the behest of security authorities that the government has permitted the launching of the present operation. The immediate angry reaction from all who treasure fundamental rights of citizens to this abrupt move is understandable. Very few, however, would object to any action taken against terrorists or suspected terrorists. But the bundling of innocent people who had come to Colombo for various private purposes other than terrorist activity and sending them away unceremoniously in buses is a clear and serious violation of their rights. Among them probably have been people who had escaped the atrocities and harassment of the LTTE.
This move also, in the opinion of many, has had the effect of indirectly contributing to the much feared and threatened division of the country. These people will undoubtedly feel that their hopes and aspirations for living as equal and respectable citizens in this country could be achieved only through the creation of a separate eelam for them. They will thus become active supporters of the LTTE.
It is unimaginable that there would be persons even among government supporters who would be blind to this invasion of personal rights and freedoms. Of course, there are those holding positions in the government, particularly ministers, who are under obligation to defend whatever action the government takes, breathing fire and brimstone against those condemning the move. It is for those sections in the government who are alive to the consequences of this action to make their influence felt by those at the helm of affairs and prevent government from embarking on ill conceived plans and programmes.
Minister Rajitha Senaratne who has said it was wrong to evict Tamil lodgers has assured that every possible action would be taken to ensure that no further inconvenience would be caused to those who had been taken away in buses to various places. He had told the media that he had assigned some of his supporters to look into the problems encountered by them. However, he too has found the excuse of war to rationalize the violation of human rights. It is indeed creditable that the JVP has adopted a humane attitude to this issue. While condemning the move, it expressed the hope that the government would realise the futility of this move.
It is indeed surprising that the JHU, which is a party, inspired by the teachings of the Compassionate One remains so far unmoved by the suffering caused to the innocent by the present move. Is this party of the view that all those dislodged have been terrorist suspects? This party that is committed to the task of constructing a society in which people of all communities could live in peace, harmony and brotherhood has a special duty to advise the government on the right conduct to be followed.