“Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumour; nor upon what is in a scripture; nor upon surmise; nor upon an axiom; nor upon specious reasoning; nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over; nor upon another’s seeming ability; nor upon the consideration.”
-Gautama Buddha (Kalama Sutta)The Buddha’s Charter of Free Inquiry
General public doesn’t think logically about certain topics such as the infertility pill scare due to lack of scientific literacy
Since the scare regarding the infertility pill stared spreading many myths associated with infertility have been floating around
Education is not being used for a larger purpose in this country other than passing exams and finding employment
UNFPA stresses the need to ensure increased access to accurate reproductive health information
Life in Kandy and Ampara Districts has returned to normalcy now. The country is at present experiencing calm after a storm. The unrest in Ampara sparked with the speculation that a pill that causes infertility had been mixed with food served in New Cassim Hotel, a small scale local restaurant in Ampara town. The violence that followed, encouraged by deep-rooted racial bigotry, spread from Ampara to central Kandy, claiming two lives, leaving several injured and causing colossal damages to property.
However, a debate on such medicine causing infertility raged as to whether there is any medicine prescribed either in Western or Ayurvedic Medicine to make a human being sterile. A group of doctors recently broached the topic and ruled out the existence of such infertility pills anywhere in the world. Officially setting aside the speculation that such a pill had been mixed with food in the hotel in Ampara, the Government Analyst’s Department confirmed that samples of particles found in food sold at the eatery did not contain sterilizing chemicals as alleged, but were mere clumps of flour.
The people reacted to the speculation that was present. They were so judgmental without inquiring into what they heard, hence these incidents, which seriously questions the level of education that the general public possesses regarding reproduction and sexual matters.
‘I am receiving death threats’
Ranga is a father of two and works at the National Water Supply and Drainage Board, Ampara. First, he was not willing to give interviews to any media agency claiming it would create more troubles for him. Later he was positively influenced by his friends to give his reasons because the cashier of New Cassim Hotel had already spoken to the media. They said that Ranga too should speak out, so that people can hear both sides of the story.
On February 26, Ranga dropped in at New Cassim Hotel for a meal. He wanted beef koththu. By that time, beef koththu was not available. Then, he wanted parotta with beef curry. He had said that he wanted to eat soon as he had just injected insulin for his diabetic condition. Ranga, who finished the first dish of beef curry, ordered another. Minutes later, he claimed that he had found a floating particle in the curry.
“The particle I found in the curry resembled a yellow coloured piece of rubber. I questioned them regarding that particle. I did not want to commence a racial attack on the Muslim brothers. I am very disappointed that this incident spread violence in many parts of the country.
“I am not a troublemaker. I have not engaged in any anti-social activity and not tarnished my good name in the village. After this pill incident, I have been receiving calls threatening me with death. I have two kids. My family is living in fear now,” he said.
The particle I found in the curry resembled a yellow coloured piece of rubber. I questioned them regarding that particle. I did not want to commence a racial attack on the Muslim brothers
“Strangers are visiting my house under the guise of beggars. I have many Muslim friends. They maintain a very good relationship with me. I was compelled to raise the question regarding the dish because there was a particle. First, I had my doubts regarding the particle I found in the beef curry. However, another incident, which was not reported in the media, raised my eyebrows. Two of the hotel workers, including the brother of the cashier of the hotel (Farsith) ran away carrying two bowls containing the rest of the beef curry, served to me. That is when I made calls to my friends out there. If there wasn’t anything to hide, why did they run away carrying the bowls which contained the beef curry?” he asked.
According to Ranga, he had no involvement in the attack on New Cassim Hotel.
Ranga said that he had followed the police jeep in his motorcycle to the police station with the intention of lodging a complaint. “I was not at the scene when the hotel was burnt down. Yet, I was arrested with the charges of attacking the hotel,” said Ranga.
‘Ranga was too quick to come to a conclusion’
The cashier of the New Cassim Hotel, Ahamed Farsith still looked shocked and confused when we reached his residence in Irakkam, Ampara. Being a 28-year-old bachelor who is not even fluent in Sinhala, Farsith told the Dailymirror that he is still afraid to go to the town alone.
“First, I thought Ranga was pissed off after finding a piece of plastic or rubber in the curry. It was later that I was told that he suspected the piece to be an infertility pill,” he said.
“Everyone told me that I appear in a video confessing to the crime of mixing infertility pills with the food. The video went viral on Facebook. I was blamed, shamed and heavily criticized over something that I had no involvement in. I have never heard of ‘wandapethi’ or sterilization pills until the day the mobs descended on my restaurant,” Farsith said.
Everyone told me that I appear in a video confessing to the crime of mixing infertility pills with the food. The video went viral on Facebook
According to Farsith, Ranga who is a regular customer at his hotel, had come alone on that day and ordered Koththu Parotta with beef.
Even after being told that Beef Koththu Parotta was not available at that time, Ranga had demanded beef curry claiming his blood sugar level had risen. He believed eating beef would increase the vitamin and mineral levels in his body and control the high sugar level in his body.
When Ranga had finished eating the first beef curry dish the second beef dish arrived on the table.
“All of a sudden, he came to me, showed some particle claimed to have been found in the curry and asked me what it was. I said it should be a clump of flour. Ranga didn’t appear to have accepted what I had said. When he repeated the same question in a different tone, I asked him to speak to the fellow worker in the hotel as my Sinhala is not good,” Farsith recalled.
Ranga, who did not pay heed to what he was told, made a few calls. Two other customers, who were having food in the hotel by the time this argument took place, also joined Ranga and started abusing Farsith. Within a short period of time, around twenty five men surrounded the hotel among whom was the person who video recorded Farsith acknowledging that he mixed infertility pills in the beef curry.