Murders of father, mother and two children in Udawalawe
| A statement issued by the Asian Human Rights Commission
(October 16, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) While the whole nation was shocked by the multiple killings at Mulleriyawa, another set of gruesome murders have been reported from Puhulyaya, Panahakaduwa, in Udawalawe. A father M K Lalith (37), mother R Indrani Gnanalatha (32), son M K Dilan Chathuranga (12), daughter M K Nadeeka Sevuwandi (8) were killed due to a shooting which, according to reports, the police believe to be shots from a T 56 gun. The killings at Mulleriyawa also were done through the firing of automatic weapons.
As of now, the killers of the family in Udawalawe are not known. The initial reports are that some persons who had come on a vehicle had stopped the vehicle a little way away from the house where the family lived, then walked to the house and killed the family, then gone back to the their vehicle and fled. However this story seems to be mere speculation, as there had been no witnesses to any of the aspects of this incident. After hearing some sounds like firecrackers some neighbours had gone to the house and found all four persons dead.
There is also speculation that the deaths may be due to some financial transaction. Mr. M K Lalith, the father, is said to be a private bus owner and also engaged in some financial business. Again, hardly any details about these matters are available at the moment. Also, the killings of the wife and the two young children throws doubt about the motives for these murders. It may well be like in Mulleriyawa, the blast of automatic fire aimed at one may have kill them all.
According to police reports they have no clue of any sort about the murder and they are investigating into the matter.
Murders by automatic weapons have brought the acute problem of the increase in gruesome crimes to a new height. However, the use of such weapons during the conflicts in the south, north and the east were well known. These weapons are freely available, and there are also former solders, members of paramilitary groups and others who are well-trained to use such weapons. Under these circumstances this new trend in crime in no surprise.
The spread of the news of the four murders of the family members has brought unrest in the area and it was reported that the police had to make special arrangements and reinforcements to deal with the issue. Such unrest is now a common feature as the recent incidents in Dompe after the extrajudicial killings of a young man arrested by the police, and the incident at Mulleriyawa, show. What were earlier called ‘Grease Devil’ incidents sparked crowd protests against strangers who had entered into other areas and were suspected of having committed crimes. The fear of any stranger is now a common feature and this reflects enormous stress and unrest among the ordinary folk.
However, the most disturbing factor is that the government has neither the willingness nor the capacity to deal with these crimes, as the instrument through which the government deals with the control of crimes is a competent, independent and adequately funded policing system. It is through the introduction of the executive presidential system, which has politicized all public institutions in Sri Lanka, that the Sri Lankan Policing System came to the present state of leaderless incompetence and became extremely poor in its organizational capacity. The pathetic plight of the Sri Lankan Police is a truth known to the government, the leaders and others of the policing system itself, as well as the public.
The government is deeply committed to the executive presidential system as found in the 1978 constitution. In fact, the government strengthened the executive presidential system by passing the 18th amendment to the Constitution thirteen months prior. Under this Constitution the most essential aspect of the rule of law, which is the supremacy of the law, was displaced by placing the executive president above the law. It is this displacement of the most essential component of rule of law that has brought the Sri Lankan Policing System to what it is today.
The criminal elements in Sri Lanka are fully aware of the present order or the causes of what one retired Justice Kulatunga stated as Sri Lanka’s disorder. Criminal intelligence consists mainly of the capacity to explot the weakness of the criminal justice system for their own advantage. The weaker the system, the greater is their mastering of the skills to undermine law and order, and their engagement in crime to achieve their ends.
1978 Constitution has placed the president above the law. However this has not made him the Supreme Being who is capable of controlling everyone and everything. In fact he has been reduced to a powerless onlooker who has to keep on watching the most gruesome crimes every day and can do nothing about it. Even people who are most close to him like his brother, the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence Gotabaya Rajapaksha, and the Member of Parliament of his party Duminda Silva take law into their hands.
Today it is the automatic weapons that have become supreme in the country. The government may have used this situation for their own advantage in elections and in the suppression of opponents. However now things have gotten out of control so completely that the government is unable to prevent its own members from killing each other with the use of automatic weapons.
The Secretary to the Ministry of Defence has cultivated a mentality of adulation for weapons and for those who are willing to use them, even if they are part of the underground elements. The close association of The Secretary to the Ministry of Defence with Duminda Silva, who is known to be one of the masters of the underground elements, speaks glaringly about the nature of the present day crisis.
The problem of this crisis is that the government has no solution to it. The government has to go on their knees to such political figures as Duminda Silva, as shown by the manner in which the some of the top government leaders have been behaving since the Mulleriyawa murders. The government is today incapable of even disowning a person accused of multiple murders and other socially unacceptable activities.
The government incapacity to deal with crisis is due to the importance given to the executive presidential system and the placement of the president above the law. This is a position that the government is neither willing nor capable of abandoning. The government when coming to power promised to abolish this system but since has done everything possible to strengthen it.
The people are unhappy, angry and insecure. The incident at Udawalawe shows them what might happen to them on any day at any time. Once the dispute settlements are taken over by the criminal elements with automatic weapons, anyone could become a target anytime. Professionals such as lawyers, doctors, university professors and everyone else today face this danger. It was not long ago that a doctor working at the Uragasmanhandiya was assassinated and even up to now this crime remains a mystery. Even Dr. Nonis, the registrar of the Sri Lankan Medical Council, was attacked in open daylight for carrying out his duty relating to medical exams. In the future, in all these matters criminal gangs with automatic weapons may have the ultimate sa.
People now need to find a political expression to their sense of insecurity, helplessness and frustration by finding a way to restore the supremacy of law by displacing the executive presidential system as found in the 1978 Constitution and strengthened by 18th amendment.