Will we fall for this trick yet again?

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My dear Natasha,

I thought of writing to you, as you languish behind bars, because almost the entire country is talking about you, and you are on the front page of every newspaper and on every television and radio channel, not to mention social media. You have even upstaged ‘Raththaran’ Raheem!

To think all this is because of a few sentences you uttered at a comedy show two months ago is mind boggling. From being a performer known in Colombo’s comedy circuit, you have now become the modern incarnation of Devadaththa – but then, isn’t this why this is Paradise?

Your references to Prince Siddhartha, as ‘Suddhodana’s little child’ were not respectful, though some argue it was in the context of a comedy and you were poking fun at today’s children. I hope you realised your mistake and that is why you apologised and withdrew a video of your skit.

Others say you should have been more aware of people’s religious sensitivities. There is merit in that argument too. Some, however, have asked whether you can make a similar joke about Islam in Saudi Arabia without being beheaded. So, while we are not Saudi Arabia yet, we are halfway there, are we?

While you spend your time in remand, Natasha, you will have time to wonder how a few sentences about Prince Siddhartha at a comedy show got you in a mess, when others have got away with much more serious misdeeds with little or no consequences – but then, this is Paradise.

Our Justice Minister complained of an alleged bribe to stop the Government demanding compensation for the X-Press Pearl ship disaster. The amounts involved were said to be in billions of dollars. No one has been detained or had any consequences yet. So, this Paradise for them.

Then we have a lady accused of not having valid Sri Lankan citizenship and a magistrate saying there are reasons to detain her. She sits in our Parliament, holds a State ministerial portfolio and wants to grow cannabis for export. So, this is Paradise for her.

Last week, ‘Raththaran’ Raheem was nabbed at the airport with undeclared gold in his possession. Instead of having the maximum fine – three times its value – imposed, he was fined a tenth of its value and allowed to attend Parliament. No wonder this is Paradise for him.

You have been detained because you referred to Prince Siddhartha as ‘Suddhodana’s little child’ and that is disrespectful. So, you must be wondering how someone in saffron robes from Pitiduwa got away after referring to the scared tooth relic as being a swine’s tooth. This is Paradise for him too.

You are charged with causing religious hatred. Two others in saffron robes from Galagoda-aththa and Athureliya urged us to boycott businesses of a particular community to destroy them. One chaired a Commission, the other is in Parliament. They weren’t charged. This is certainly Paradise for them.

Even more puzzling is the DJ who promoted snakes by the Kelani River. He publicly asks what kind of ‘porak’ Prince Siddhartha is and whether he ‘is a loser, a great achiever or a failure’. How is it that this is not offensive but calling him ‘Suddhodana’s little child’ is offensive? So, this is DJ’s Paradise!

The moral of this story, in case you haven’t realised already, Natasha, is that this land is Paradise for some for whom the wheels of justice turn slowly – or not at all. On the other hand, for others such as you and your colleague Bruno it has turned at the speed of greased lightning. So, it is not Paradise for you.

Soon, we might hear that Wimal has written another book about this conspiracy you have launched with some ambassador to destroy Buddhism in Paradise. Somehow, two sentences at a comedy show have become the greatest threat to Buddhism since Devadaththa hurled rocks at Lord Buddha!

You must also be wondering why the Opposition, who shout at the slightest hint of intimidation have maintained a deafening silence about your detention. Is it because the ‘Sajaba’ types and the ‘rathu sahodaraya’s feel they would lose the votes of the majority community and religion, if they protest?

The remarks that landed you in trouble were made over two months ago. We hardly noticed it. If there wasn’t such a fuss about it, it would have ended like Gota maama did – of little significance and forgotten. So, the real racial hatred has been fostered by those raising this issue over and over again.

The sentences you uttered became an issue only after some said you are an agent sent to destroy Buddhism in Paradise. Coming so soon after Jerome’s drama, one wonders whether this is designed to compel us to vote again to save the ‘rata, jaathiya, aagama’ at the next election, like we did last time?

You made some offensive comments. You apologised. If the matter was allowed to end there, no one would have given it a second thought. Now we are on the cusp of yet another war based on religious hatred. If we fall for this trick yet again, the joke will not be on you. It will be on all of us, as a nation.

Yours truly,

Punchi Putha

PS: While everyone is rushing to save Buddhism from your comments on ‘Suddhodana’s little child’, I am wondering who will benefit from all this – is it Boralugoda Phillip’s ‘podi eka’, Premadasa’s ‘podi eka’, or, Mahinda maama’s ‘podi eka’ as usual? And why is Esmond’s ‘podi eka’ silent about all this?

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