5th Column

In you go

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My dear Dumi,

I thought I must write to you when I saw you on the news again. Even though you have been out of action and away from the limelight for a number of years, you somehow manage to capture headlines every now and then, thanks to your long-drawn-out court case and that remarkable lady, Hirunika.

You first made headlines when Bharatha Lakshman was killed 13 years ago during local government polls – an election so unimportant that Uncle Ranil doesn’t even hold it now. You were convicted after the first trial 5 years later. The highest court confirmed the conviction 6 years ago.

In our little Paradise, Dumi, much depends on timing, and you were unfortunate in that. When your trial took place for the first time as well as when your appeal was heard in the highest court in the land, your political saviours were not in office. Therefore, the wheels of justice turned as they should.

You were not deterred by such issues and content to wait for your chance. It wouldn’t have been too difficult as most of the time that you were supposed to be behind bars was spent in hospitals. That was because there were doctors who were very happy to certify that you always needed treatment there.

Your opportunity came when Gota maama announced that he was running for the top job. You and Gota maama went back a long way. You were the ‘Monitoring MP’ to the Ministry of Defence when he was the secretary of that ministry. In fact, that was when the incident with Bharatha occurred.

That is why radio and television stations owned by your brother went out of their way to support Gota maama for the top job, although they didn’t go to the extent of getting snakes to emerge from the Kelani river. Someone else did that. Anyway, Gota maama got the top job – and by quite a margin too.

Gota maama has been accused of many things but he cannot be accused of being ungrateful. So, he thought he would repay you with a gift that only he could give, a presidential pardon. That such a pardon would be a slap in the face of a judicial process that took 7 years mattered little to him.

He must have thought there was nothing wrong with that. After all, JR pardoned Gonawela Sunil, and restored Sirima’s civic rights, Preme pardoned Rajiv’s attacker Vijitha Rohana, Mahinda maama pardoned Blue party minister Milroy’s wife who was convicted of murder, SB and the Field Marshall.

Gota maama’s predecessor Aiyo Sirisena also took matters into his own hands as only he could. He pardoned Gnanasara hamuduruwo who had been convicted of contempt of court. Then, he released the Royal Park murderer a few days before leaving office. That pardon too is now being contested.

Maybe because of these precedents before him, Gota maama must have thought that he too can do what he wants and pardon who he wanted. One of his first acts was to pardon a soldier convicted of murder. There was a hue and cry about that but he carried on regardless and went on to pardon you.

That plan would have gone off without a hitch had not Gota maama himself been ousted from office, and if not for that pesky lady, Hirunika. When she is not appearing on the doorsteps of Gota maama or Uncle Ranil and screaming either ‘Gota Go Home’ or ‘Raneeeel’, she was always hounding you.

Hirunika filed this fundamental rights case against the pardon, putting not only you but Gota maama too in a spot. The pardon is supposed to be granted on the Justice Minister’s recommendation but that wily fellow Sabry has cleverly dodged the issue telling Gota maama “it is a matter for him” to decide.

Their Lordships’ judgment quashing the pardon is scathing. They ask why the others accused with you were not pardoned and query whether it was because you are “a close friend and a political ally”. It describes Gota maama’s decision as arbitrary, irrational and done for reasons best known to him.

I suppose one can argue most of Gota maama’s decisions as the big boss can be described as arbitrary, irrational and taken for reasons best known to him but that leaves you with a big problem now, Dumi. None of the ‘R’ clan are able to help you. Also, even your long stays in hospital are being questioned.

When you were serving your sentence you were always ill and in hospital. A month after your pardon, you were well and head of the Housing Authority. The moment your pardon was suspended you were back in hospital. What is this unique medical condition and who are the doctors certifying this, Dumi?

You missed another trick, Dumi. When the Royal Park murderer was pardoned by Aiyo Sirisena, he promptly left Paradise. His pardon is also being contested and the outcome of that is unclear but even if that is quashed now, the chances of him returning are as good as getting Arjuna Mahendran back!

For the moment though, you can look on the bright side. Although you have been sentenced to death, our ‘dharmishta’ society has not really carried it out for nearly 50 years now. So, unless a miracle happens and the ‘pohottuwa’ types take over again, you can at least spend the rest of your days prison.

Yours truly,

Punchi Putha

PS: Hirunika started politics in the Blue party, changed over to the Green party after her father died and is now in the Light Green party. Though you ended in the Blue party, few recall that you began politics in the Green party. Mention that to Uncle Ranil, and ask him if he can pardon you once again?