By Nadira Gunatilleke
By now 73 years have passed since the day Sri Lanka gained Independence. Various political parties and their leaders ruled Sri Lanka from 1948 to 2021. Only one year and 10 months have passed since the current President Gotabaya Rajapaksa came into power in November 2019.
But just three months after he became the President and began development work, the COVID-19 outbreak occurred. The next one year and seven months had to be spent to focus on preventing and controlling the spread of COVID-19 and there will be no change in the coming several months as well. The current President is the only Sri Lankan leader in history who faced a real challenge while in power.
Therefore, the story is about the duration from 1948 to 2019, especially the period from 1970 to 2019 and not after 2019. Not only Sri Lanka, but also the world did not have any special challenges before 2019. Therefore, the country had not been locked down more than a few days or weeks from time to time. Even that periods of curfew had to be imposed due to LTTE terrorism and one of the small political parties which now have a minor representation of votes of just three percent. Sri Lanka had an ‘unofficial curfew’ during the 1988/1989 period imposed by the Deshapremi Janatha Vyaparaya (DJV). The country did not have any major challenges such as COVID-19 before 2019.
It is very interesting to analyse the connection between ragging, brainwashing and strikes in Sri Lanka because the history of this chain of situations goes back to 1971 and it still exists without any trouble. This evil chain is the main reason for Sri Lanka’s all types of setbacks. There is an unbreakable, evil connection between ragging, brainwashing and strikes. All start with ragging, especially the ragging that takes place at state universities and then it becomes a process of brainwashing for generations. The final outcome (after several years) is strikes. The latest is the teachers’ online strike which is still going on without a break. But we have to stress that some teachers do not strike and continue to teach online no matter what instructions they receive from trade union leaders and other hardcore trade unionists. They still continue online teaching in the midst of all threats. Who are they? You will find the answer at the end of this article.
Ragging in Sri Lanka is directly connected to the current small political party which is broken into two pieces. One group has now formed a separate political party and the other group still remains under its original name. But both have the same evil and destructive ideology. The only difference is that the original political party was started to support any political party indirectly, especially capitalists who came into power in Sri Lanka since 1997. Their members do whatever they are being told by their leadership.
Only three members of this political party are now in the Parliament as its Members. About five decades ago this political party was intact and led the 1971 insurgency. Then again they launched their second insurgency in 1988/1989. Those cannot be named as insurgencies because they were pure acts of terrorism against the legally-appointed democratic Governments. They were a set of power-hungry individuals and another set of youths who were misled by them. They were terrorists who posed as rebels.
This small political party has been using ragging at universities as their main strategy to recruit members. After university education, some of those members just drop their evil ideology and start leading normal lives as any other Sri Lankan but some of them continue to promote their disastrous ideology wherever they go, especially at their working places. This handful of individuals are behind each and every strike that is launched in Sri Lanka since 1971. It is the same with the ongoing teachers’ online strike.
This well-planned torturing system which is called ‘ragging’ commenced in 1974 with the torturing of a mathematics teacher at Kelaniya (then) Vidyalankara University. In 1975, it was Roopa Rathnaseeli who jumped from the top floor of a university building to escape from ragging and then committed suicide in 2002 after suffering 27 years as a permanently-disabled person. The list of killed undergraduates is very long.
Then comes Chaminda Punchihewa (1993), Prasanna Niroshan (1993), S. Varapragash (1997), Kelum Thushara (1997), Samantha Vithanage (2002) by dropping a computer on his head, stabbing him with shrapnel and blocking and delaying (for hours) the vehicle from taking him to the hospital, Shanika Dilhan Wijesinghe (2019). Pasindu Hirushan (2020), is the latest victim. There are many others who suffered in silence.
The set of goons who are sponsored by these two small political parties are inside state universities under the name of common students’ union. They physically destroy all other students’ unions and do not let any other students’ unions to exist at universities. What they do is ragging freshers who join state universities in order to recruit members. Taking revenge from students who come from well-to-do families, educated families and rich families is their second main objective and they are their prime targets. They try their best to chase away such students from state universities without allowing them to become graduates.
They rag freshers for about one year using various torturing methods. Some innocent students commit suicide, abandon university education or become mentally sick due to this ragging. Only a very few students face it and fight against it during their university life. Only one or two fight for the rights of innocent students after passing out from universities and work in the private sector. The list of people from all fields who were murdered by them is very long and cannot be mentioned in a small space.
Ragging is the base to plant evil ideology in undergraduates. Then comes the brainwashing phase. After planting hatred inside the minds of poor undergraduates, they pour fertiliser during the rest of the two or three years by pointing out various ‘issues’ in any Government which is in power at that time.
What they do is naming all except them as enemies of undergraduates. Most graduates who pass out from state universities, especially after completing Arts and related degrees think that any Government which is in power without the support of these two small political parties is not doing any good to the people and doing evil things for its people. But they never think that a Government which is supported by their two small political parties can harm people. Such Governments can do almost anything evil. That is what we witnessed from 2015 to 2019 in Sri Lanka.
Then comes the third and the most crucial phase. It is strikes. One such strike is now going on. It is the online strike launched by some teachers. But some teachers do not strike. They are not either graduates or those who graduated from state universities in fields other than the Arts Degree field. There is another set of teachers who do not strike. They are the traditional Sri Lankan teachers who treat teaching as a service and not just as another employment. Some of their parents are teachers. There are some other teachers who are not involved in this strike and they think that innocent poor students are not responsible for the 24 years long salary issue which existed during several Governments led by various leaders belonging to various political parties. All other teachers are on the online strike.
The brainwashed graduates who are employed at any state or private institution do not wish the progress of that specific institution, country or at least themselves. All they want is to create trouble for the head of the department, head of the Institution, the state ministry, and the private company. They hate the words ‘progress’, ‘profit’ etc. especially when it comes to private institutions. The employers should pay them salaries and give all other benefits but they should not earn profits. The owner of the company should earn something similar to their salary and nothing more than that according to these brainwashed people.
Sri Lanka will walk nowhere ahead with the mentality of these brainwashed graduates. They have been all over the country since 1971 and they will be all over the country in the future as well if the Government does not break this evil circle now. The Government should break this evil circle now and otherwise achieving the developed status will only become a dream for Sri Lanka. The essential, important and easiest breaking point is eradicating university ragging. The best way is to seek the assistance of our heroic Armed Forces. They have to work only for three years because once the current second year brainwashed batch pass out from state universities, no more ragging will be there. It is the same with similar institutions such as Educational Collages.