COLOMBO: Dr.Daya Somasundaram, Professor of Psychiatry at Jaffna University, blames the breakdown of traditional social and administrative structures for the gang rape and murder of 18 year old school girl, S.Vithya, at Pungudithivu on May 13, and the mayhem that engulfed Sri Lanka’s Northern Province subsequently.
Mobs burnt tyres on the streets, stoned the court and the police station, ordered hartals, and called for the public execution of the perpetrators. Unable to calm the people, Tamil politicos blamed their rivals. Sinhalese politicians in the South saw the revival of terrorism and separatism and called for stern action. Chief Minister C.V.Wigneswaran warned that if the agitation continued, the government might re-militarize the province. Pressed to act, three top Jaffna police officers were transferred on Friday.
'The root cause of the crime and the mayhem that followed was the breakdown of traditional structures, norms and systems of support and control,' Somasundaram told Express.
'Traditional familial and social support and control mechanisms no longer exist, having been destroyed by the 30 year war. Given the lack of attention to human resources development after the war, youth see no future for themselves and go astray. Those who live on foreign remittances lead idle lives and indulge in crime as a pastime, setting a bad example to others,' Somasundaram said.
According to D.Siddharthan, member of the Northern Provincial Council, even school kids drink and consume drugs, which are easily available.
'The police wink at these because they are bribed. Those who live on remittances bribe habitually. Police see no need for investigating crimes,' he noted.
In fact, it was police inaction which triggered public wrath in Vithya’s case. The stoning of the court and the police station showed lack of faith in State institutions.
Vithya’s case showed the extent of the rot. Involved were a Tamil expatriate plying drinks and drugs among youth, an ambitious local politico, unemployed local thugs and even a top Professor of Law.
'The solution lies in re-building social, administrative and educational structures, and encouraging group activities with wholesome goals,' Somasundaram said.