Early last Christmas morning following the teachings of Jesus Christ’s, of kindness, forbearance, and tolerance, the writer accompanied by two friends headed towards Naththandiya. The coconut plantations on either side of the road made the drive down delightful watching. However, we found it strange the prices of coconut were so high because the coconut estates were in abundance.
We went searching for a mercilessly assaulted man. He was the forty-two-year-old Suranga Lakmal. Suranga lives in the Asoka Pura housing scheme close to a prominent carbon factory in Thorawita. Lakmal’s house is a half-finished one in a very bad condition. He is a single parent with two children. His children are in the tenth and ninth grades and attend a local school. His old and feeble mother looks after him and the two children after his wife left him a few years ago. The family is deprived and underprivileged. Lakmal worked as a carpenter, but during the Covid-19 pandemic, he could not find any employment.
This incident occurred sometime in May 2021. Lakmal’s children were crying for food, so his mother asked him to go and pick a fallen coconut from the neighbouring coconut plantation to feed the hungry children with polsambol and rice. The neighbouring fifty-acre coconut estate is owned by the Ceylon Pentecostal Mission (Lanka Sabawa). Romesh Priantha de Silva and Sugathawansa are in charge of the estate. They caught Lakmal collecting the fallen coconut from the plantation and started to abuse him very badly.
Romesh Priantha de Silva and Sugathawansa, the two persons who caught Suranga Lakmal when he picked the fallen coconut, and attacked him mercilessly, had gone to the extent of stripping Lakmal of his clothes. They held his naked body upright in a crucifix position and struck Lakmal with an iron mallet on his back and his genitalia ignoring his pleading. He implored them to hand him over to the Police, ‘if picking a fallen coconut is a crime to feed his hungry children.’ The video shown on TV and social media platforms clearly shows how Lakmal beseeched them to stop, while the vicious pair continued to beat him up.
Both attackers did not pay any attention to the pleading of Lakmal’s but continued to hammer him on his back with the iron mallet, which seriously damaged Lakmal’s vertebral column. Now he is unable to bend down and unable to work because he is a carpenter.
Six months later
It was only after we arrived at Lakmal’s house were we informed this inhumane act had occurred six months ago. The Suranga Lakmal video which was shown on TV news and social media platforms just before Christmas 2021 was actually six months after the attack. When the crime occurred, Lakmal reported it to the Marawila Police Station. Following Lakmal’s Police entry, the Marawila Police produced their B-report reference B-169/21 and filed a case against the two perpetrators at the Magistrate’s Court, Marawila. The police complaint was acknowledged and confirmed by a letter signed by the Registrar of the Courts on 6 December 2021.
It was after watching the revolting scene of Lakmal’s brutal attack that we felt we should visit the desperate family and extend whatever help we could give. So, early on Christmas morning, we started our journey towards Naththandiya, with a car full of dry rations including some coconuts, which was the cause for Lakmal’s attack. My friend Karuni handed over the dry rations to Lakmal’s mother and distributed cash to each family member as a Christmas contribution.
His mother’s explanation
Suranga’s mother explained how she requested her son to pick a fallen coconut from the adjoining coconut estate as her two grandchildren were starving and crying of hunger. After the savage beating on Suranga Lakmal, a compassionate neighbour, Professor D.S.J. Kalubowila, brought this inhumane act to the Human Rights Commission.
After filing the case at Marawila Police Station, Suranga Lakmal appealed to the President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, in a registered letter in detail. Suranga Lakmal voted for Gotabaya Rajapaksa during the Presidential election and had high hopes of the President taking remedial action against the two offenders. He was unsure whether the President watched Suranga Lakmal’s video on Swarnavahini news or even read his letter sent under registered cover! In his letter to the President, he wrote how his two children were crying of hunger, and at that moment, his mother asked him to pick a fallen coconut from the adjoining coconut estate to help her grandchildren from starvation.
In response to Suranga Lakmal’s letter to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the Ombudsman attached to the Presidential Secretariat wrote to the D.I.G. Puttalam District, under his reference PS/OMB/04/2174/21 and PS/OMB/04/2301/21 on 12 November 2021, requesting the Police to take appropriate action against the perpetrators, with copies to Suranga Lakmal and Prof. D. S.J. Kalubowila. Regrettably, neither the D.I.G. at Puttalam District nor the Police at Marawila took appropriate action against the perpetrators despite the attached Presidential Secretariat Ombudsman’s letter of 12 November 2021. It shows to what extent the innocent people who are less influential and helpless have to go through constantly!
During our visit to Suranga Lakmal, two Buddhist priests from Kandy arrived to see him after watching the horrific video clip of how Romesh Priantha de Silva and Sugathawansa savagely struck Suranga Lakmal by hanging him in a crucifix position! The distressed family still depends on charity from various people who saw the vicious beating on TV and social media platforms.
Sumith Liyanage wrote to the Police Retired Senior Officers’ Association newsletter and explained his experience on the current Police Force. He said thus: “Many noble qualities had vanished mysteriously from what is known as this august (Police) body; Justice and fair play are the aspirations of civilised societies; equality and impartiality in dispensing justice are the hallmarks of a healthy democracy.”
The Suranga Lakmal’s family urgently needs a water well, they have no access to water. There is no water supply in the area they live. Therefore, the family’s urgent requirement is to have an adequate water supply at their disposal.
picture : credit writer