By Helasingha Bandara
“The UNP leadership is known to be spineless in the first place. At present he has his own troubles regarding survival. However that party’s executive committee too is strangely silent or slow about action against the brutal criminal.”
(May 27, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian)
Almost five months have elapsed since Shantha Abeysekara and his murderous criminals attempted to kill UNP MP Palitha Rangabandara. The UNP has still not been able to take effective disciplinary action against Shantha Abeysekara, the attempted murderer, who personally dealt the last sword blow across Rangabandara’s head and declared him dead.
On April 10, 2010 Rangabandara held a meeting at his campaign manager’s house in Sinhapura, Halawatha to thank his campaign organisers and to discuss future plans. With the support of those campaigners Rangabandara had received the largest number of preferential votes of the UNP at the parliamentary elections and had taken the number one spot of the UNP list in the Puttalam District. In percentage terms he had even beaten the UPFA number one taking 43% of the total UNP vote.
On the fateful date he was supposed to attend another meeting in town after this one. When he finished the first meeting and was about to go out, another group of well wishers arrived at the Sinhapura house. It is not uncommon in Sri Lanka for people to arrive unannounced. The MP had to delay the departure in order to talk to the new arrivals. At this point someone announced that the provincial council member of the North Western Province, Shantha Abeysekara had arrived.
Shantha Abeysekara is a provincial council member of the UNP in the North Western Provincial Council and an unsuccessful candidate of the parliamentary elections that concluded just two days ago. Ironically, Rangabandara himself was instrumental in creating a political career for Shantha.
Unusually, Shantha had a cricket stump in his hand and was accompanied by a group of about 25 of his own supporters. As he got close to Rangabandara he started shouting in filth and hammering the MP with his cricket stump. Udayanga, Manju and Murthi, the others who attacked the MP first had cricket stumps and a sword respectively. When the MP received many blows and started bleeding, his friend Thilak tried to save his life. When the gang turned their fury on Thilak, the MP ran to the bathroom to wash off the blood.
The criminals broke down the door of the bathroom and dragged him out and assaulted him again. Finally Shantha grabbed the sword and cut Rangabandara across the head and shouted “He is dead” before leaving. More than 20 people, all UNP party supporters, witnessed the crime. Does the UNP leadership need any more investigations or evidence to expel a murderous criminal from the party?
The UNP leadership is known to be spineless in the first place. At present he has his own troubles regarding survival. However that party’s executive committee too is strangely silent or slow about action against this brutal criminal. A neutral observer may wonder in his mind as to what the reasons for inaction of the UNP when a UNP stalwart himself was the victim. On assumption that the UNP is in power and such a treatment is meted out to a person of the opposition, would the UNP take any action at all?
The characteristic snail pace of the UNP in this connection may be due to many reasons. Primarily the fear of losing Shantha to the UPFA. The UNP should not fear such divorces because marrying a criminal brings unforeseen troubles to the suitor. Besides, people will make their own judgment about the politicians or the political parties who accept the rejects. It is unlikely that the UPFA would enrol another criminal into their rank and file as they have plenty of them and trouble already.
Is the UNP blind to the fact that standing by principles would benefit politicians or parties? The other reason could be the fear of individual leaders of the UNP, that they may be subjected to the same treatment by Shantha. Finally it could be the UNP habit to foster and harbour criminals. Historically, the UNP was famous for thuggery and intimidation. At one time, people believed that no opposition could withstand the ferocity of the UNP. With the demise of Premadasa things changed. Snakes shed skin but still remain poisonous. Perhaps the UNP wants to retain criminals like Shantha for future use.