It was 103 years after the first communal riots which took place in Kandy against Muslims in 1915 in the Island a communal upheaval targeting Muslims by hooligans had caused significant damages to Mosques, houses and business establishments in the city a few days ago.
The death of a truck driver who was a 43-year-old family man had ignited the unrest which had even led to the death of another person who got caught in the fire at his house set on by the hooligans.
It was a few days before the Kandy riots, unrest prevailed in Ampara between Muslims and Sinhalese which had also resulted in extensive damages caused to the assets of Muslims in the region.
Leader of the Opposition and Tamil National Alliance R. Sampanthan addressing Parliament on the Ampara and Kandy riots pointed out that the situations in both places which went out of control have highlighted the manner hooligans taking law into their hands.
The veteran Tamil politician with his vast experience in dealing with the Tamil ethnic crisis has even warned that if the ordinary people take the law of the land into their hands, the country will face a chaotic situation in the context of strengthening peace and reconciliation among various ethnicities in the future.
The three decades of separatist war in the Island had almost led the country to the brink of a failed state with deaths and destruction on a mega scale.
A separatist war for three decades
So, it is a pity to understand that even after experiencing an ethnic crisis which had led to a separatist war for three decades, the present regime is ignorant of ultra nationalist elements taking the upper hand in disrupting communal harmony.
A few days ago at a mass protest in Nallur, Jaffna hundreds of Hindus highlighted the damages caused to several Hindu temples in the Northern Province.
The participants at the protest had handed over a memorandum to Chief Minister C. V. Wigneswaran to be sent to the President and the Prime Minister to protect the Hindu places of worship in the Island.
Places of worship of any religion are the sensitive locations and the attacks carried out on these spiritual centres are considered as stirring the hornets’ nests. Therefore, in Ampara and in Kandy last week, hooligans attacking the mosques had clearly indicated the intentions of the chauvinist elements.
It was sad to witness some Buddhist monks standing amidst the hooligans who were setting fire to houses, business places and mosques in Kandy.
On the other hand, Kandy being the holiest city of Buddhists in the Island with the Relics of Lord Buddha placed at the city’s Dalada Maligawa several high profile monks have even severely condemned the attacks carried out in Ampara and Kandy last week.
So, as it was pointed out by Muslim and Tamil political leaders, the important reason for the escalation of violence in Ampara and Kandy is due to the failure on the part of the law enforcement officials in acting promptly in curbing the untoward incidents.
Ampara and Kandy incidents have occurred in the backdrop of 37th session of the UNHRC to take up next week the progress made in the resolutions co-sponsored by Sri Lanka in October 2015 in improving the human rights situation particularly in the North and the East of the Island.
So, the Ampara and Kandy incidents have clearly highlighted the volatile situation still remains in the Island even after the separatist war ended in 2009.
As the minorities supported immensely in bringing the present National Unity Government led by President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to power, the regime cannot let down the peace loving countrymen by allowing the chauvinist elements taking the law into their hands.
The chaotic situations in Ampara and Kandy last week had reminded of the brutality of the ‘Black July’ of 1983.
Kandy with its scenic locations being popular with foreign and local tourists and Ampara in the East becoming popular with tourists in recent years, the communal unrests in both places are even expected to strike a big blow to the country’s tourism sector.
The gravity of the incidents in Ampara and Kandy have even made one wonder whether a powerful hidden force is operating behind the scenes to fulfil its ulterior motives.
Therefore, through and in-depth investigations should be carried out impartially into the incidents in both places to ensure the safety of the law abiding citizens.
As the arms dealers, human smugglers and drug traffickers are looking for new vistas, the once war-torn Sri Lanka could be even a soft target for those criminals to fulfill their ulterior motives with the latest chaotic situations unfolding in the Island.
So, it is up to the Government to decide whether to allow the ‘horrifying past history’ to repeat itself or to use its iron fist to crush the chauvinist elements raising their ugly heads.