Editorial

By The Editor

On Easter Sunday April 21, 2019 nine suicide bombers belonging to the local Islamist extremist group National Thawheed Jamaat (NTJ), which was linked to ISIS, carried out series of blasts in capital city of Colombo, Sri Lanka targeting three Catholic churches and many luxury hotels killing more than 270 people including 11 Indians and injuring over 500. The horrible deed was clear case of intelligence failure which triggered political storm blaming then President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. As many as 12 petitioners, including kin of victims, Catholic clergy, and lawyers’ body Bar Association of Sri Lanka, filed the fundamental rights petition against then president for his negligence in preventing the attacks who however pleaded not guilty to the charge against him. Ironically a presidential panel of inquiry appointed by Sirisena after the attacks found then president guilty of his failure to prevent the attacks who on his part admitted that he had no prior knowledge of the impending tragedy.

After nearly nine months on January 12 Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court verdict came out which does not directly blame Sirisena but says that if officials appointed by president make grave mistake the president is responsible. Accordingly a fine of Sri Lanka Rupees 100 million has been imposed on him to pay as compensation to victims failing which he would be sent to jail on contempt of court charges. Addressing Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLEP) press briefing, Sirisena who was president of Sri Lanka from 2015 to 2019 deeply apologised to Catholic community and in his belief he felt that the Catholic community did not have any grudge against him. He asked God for forgiveness and also from families and relatives of those who died and were seriously injured stressing that the attack happened without his knowledge. The 71-year-old former president is at present sitting MP (Member of Parliament) and asserted that he would contest the next presidential election due in 2024.

Sri Lanka is an independent country lying off the southern tip of India separated by the Palk Strait nearest distance between two nations being only 35km or 22miles at the narrowest point. Its total area is 65,610 sq km with population of 21,832,143 or nearly 22 million as in 2022. Native inhabitants are Sinhalese who came from India around 480 BCE and constitute about 70 per cent of total population most of whom are Buddhists. Tamils form about 22 per cent of population and majority of them are Hindus. By religious affiliation there are 67 per cent Buddhists, 18 per cent Hindus, and 7 per cent each of Christians and Muslims. First woman prime minister in the world was from Sri Lanka, Sirimavo Bandaranaike, who assumed leadership after the assassination of her husband Solomon W.R.D. Bandaranaike of Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) in 1959.