A Nikini Poya thought
While a campaign to turn this blessed republic into a kingdom is on, we have some political potentates emulating legendary bovine King Kekille, who always saw to it that justice was stood on its head and the wrong party hanged in a trial. It looks as if King Kekille were being cloned on an industrial scale in this land.
Minister of Sports and Recreation Gamini Lokuge's kneejerk reaction to an avalanche of criticism he came under over the 'abduction' of two baby jumbos from Pinnawala was to blame some young animal rights activists for a conspiracy against him. Last week, with egg on his face, the minister, flanked by Diyawadana Nilame Nilanga Dela, roared at a press briefing in Kandy vowing to deal with some NGO activists in departments under his purview. If only he had promised to probe allegations that the two baby elephants were being tortured by their handlers in a bid to tame them!
That ministerial threat seems to be taking effect. It is reported that an employee (name withheld) in the National Zoological Department and Chairman of the Young Zoologists' Association Pubudu Weeraratne are being spied on. The police, who are notorious for lethargy and inefficiency, have for once demonstrated high octane performance; they are said to be busy ascertaining information about Weeraratne et al. We hope animal rights activists will not be given white van rides.
Intimidatory tactics of this nature will only bring the government into disrepute further. It has unfortunately caused the country's image to be tarnished internationally at a time her tourism industry is slowly reviving after years of setbacks. Minister Lokuge being a former Minister of Tourism should have known better than to obtain Cabinet approval for tearing elephant sucklings from their mothers! There is no way the government can cover up the cruel act that Diyawadana Nilame Dela and Minister Lokuge have jointly perpetrated against two hapless little animals by depriving them of their mothers' milk, protection and warmth. Their unspeakable conduct is now public knowledge. Atop allegations of human rights abuses and war crimes, the government will have charges of animal rights violations to contend with.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa had the wisdom to heed animal rights activists' plea for reuniting the little jumbos with their mothers. But, sadly, his decision has not yet been carried out. Is there someone bigger than the Executive President in the government? What a pity that a president who had Tigers wiped out within record time finds it so difficult to have two little jumbos sent back to Pinnawala from Kandy!
Now, Minister Lokuge wants to have the baby elephants' mothers brought to Kandy! (King Kekille must be spinning in his grave!) It could have been considered some kind of compromise formula if the mother elephants had not been in a semi wild condition, which is very likely to cause unforeseen trouble in the vicinity of the venerated Sri Dalada Maligawa. Both the Minister and Diayawadana Nilame are obviously trying to bite off more than they can chew and land the government in deeper trouble.
Today is Nikini Full Moon Poya Day, when the first Dhamma Convention is commemorated. There will be religious ceremonies at various places including the President's official residence as usual. While the government leaders with TV crews in tow are paying homage to the Enlightened One, they will, we hope, remember the plight of the two baby jumbos going through hell in Kandy because of an ill-advised Cabinet decision. Those poor animals in agony must be sent back to their mothers pining for them on this holy day.
Most of all, the shameless witch-hunt against animal rights activists must be brought to an end forthwith. It is praise and not harassment that those who are fighting for the rights of animals deserve for their campaign to relieve baby elephants and their mothers of unbearable suffering Diyawadana Nilame and Minister Lokuge have inflicted on them.