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Balls, bombs and law

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Thursday 7th September, 2023

Former Sri Lankan cricketer Sachithra Senanayake has been arrested for spot-fixing. He is alleged to have approached some players during the Lanka Premier League tournament in 2020 and sought to lure them into spot-fixing. Senanayake has denied the allegation against him, claiming that it is part of a sinister campaign to tarnish his reputation.

Investigations are still on, and one should refrain from prejudging the former Sri Lankan spinner’s guilt or innocence. The matter is best left to the judiciary.

Strangely, none of the cricket administrators, some of whom are among the worst crooks in the country, has been arrested for corrupt practices. It is only wishful thinking that we will be able to liberate cricket from the clutches of the corrupt by cracking down only on the corrupt players who have entered into s Faustian bargain with bookies, etc. The corrupt officials who are enriching themselves by cutting shady deals at the expense of cricket must be similarly dealt with.

Senanayake’s arrest has proved that the law catches up with suspects, in some cases. If only it did so in respect of those who are alleged to have committed far worse offences than spot-fixing.

The Opposition was on fire in Parliament yesterday, flaying the government; its senior members came out with guns blazing. Referring to a Channel 4 programme on the Easter Sunday attacks, they demanded action against those who were responsible for the terrorist bombings, which claimed more than 250 lives and left over 500 people injured.

Opinion may be divided on the credibility of Channel 4, its agenda, and who the masterminds behind the terrorist attacks were, but the fact remains that the inordinate delays in investigations into the terrorist bombings are unpardonable and lend credence to the claim that justice has been denied to the victims of terrorism.

There is no way the government leaders who gained a great deal of political mileage from the fallout of the Easter Sunday attacks in 2019 to regain power can justify their failure to honour their pledge to have the bombings thoroughly probed and justice served expeditiously. Their failure, if not refusal, to fulfil that promise has caused them to be accused of having had a hand in the terror strikes.

The Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI), which probed the Easter Sunday carnage, has recommended that criminal proceedings be instituted against former President Maithripala Sirisena, some high-ranking police officers and others for their failure to prevent the terror attacks. Its recommendations have not been implemented, but a youth has been arrested and remanded over a social media post, which is said to contain a threat to President Ranil Wickremesinghe!

Cricket, no doubt, has to be cleansed of corruption, and the ongoing investigations into allegations of spot-fixing are welcome. Corrupt practices that plague cricket affect the country adversely, but they do not worsen the people’s economic burden. Curiously, the state prosecutor and the police drag their feet on complaints of corrupt deals that cause huge losses to the state coffers, their inaction in respect of the sugar tax scam being a case in point. Senanayake is facing a foreign travel ban, and such precautions have to be taken to prevent suspects from fleeing the country. But how come former Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mehendran was allowed to leave the country even after his involvement in the Treasury bond scams came to light?

Has the government prioritised its efforts to nab venal cricketers over the task of having terrorist attacks and state sector corrupt deals probed?

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