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 Post subject: Never dress as President in Sri Lanka!!
 Post Posted: Mon Jul 25, 2005 10:08 pm 
Dressed as President - you will be funished

'Eye-patch' marcher goes into hiding

By Risidra Mendis
Sunday Leader / 18FEB2001

The Aramba Raddoluwa village in Seeduwa has always been a peaceful place where most people earn their living through farming. Irrespective of their political affiliations, the villagers of Aramba Raddolouwa have enjoyed a harmoniuous co-existence.

However on February 13, 2001 the villagers of Raddoluwa witnessed their first incident of violence and terror when H. H. A. Kamala's house was attacked and burnt by an unidentified gang. This incident took place just three days after Kamala had dressed as President Chandrika Kumaratunga and participated in the UNP protest march, the Jana Bala Meheyuma.

The road leading to Kamala's house is narrow and surrounded by thick shrub. The few houses in the area are covered by large trees, making it difficult for a passer-by to find a particular house.

But the unidentified gang that attacked her house had no problems finding the place as they had come a few times before and noted the exact spot where Kamala lived. The first signs of suspicion began when villagers noticed some strangers making inquiries in the area on a number of occasions. The UNP protest march was over and the villagers themselves realised that the inquiries made were not for their good.

At this time Kamala was receiving death threats and feared for her life. However she continued to live in her house with her husband. On that day Kamala's mother-in-law Kumarasinghe Hettiarachcige Leelawathie and her youngest son Maithri Jayawardene had noticed four vehicles crossing the bridge and heading in the direction of Kamala's house at around 11.30 pm. The first vehicle had a red bulb flashing on top.

When Leelawathie realised the vehicles were heading in the direction of Kamala's house she rushed there, as the two houses are close to each other. She managed to warn the couple minutes before the gang attacked the house.

"I'm 70 years old and can hardly walk. But that day I knew I had to warn my son and daughter-in-law before it was too late. From the time Kamala went in that procession I knew there was going to be trouble for her. I even told her she shouldn't have covered her eye when participating in that protest. From the way people were talking I realised that sooner or later Kamala would be attacked. This is why my sons and I were always on the lookout for anything unusual. However I feel that despite what Kamala did she shouldn't have been attacked in this way," Leelawathie said.

Charred windows and a blackened wall and roof are the first thing that greet a visitor to Kamala's house now. The charred remnants of a TV set, a bicycle, a cassette player and bits and pieces of chairs and tables and other furniture were strewn on the floor when The Sunday Leader visited the house. The few pictures on the wall lay burnt in a pile on the floor together with all their clothes and other belongings. A calendar torn into shreds and glass pieces from the shattered windows lay scattered in their small garden.

Apart from the grunts of pigs and a few cackling hens in the backyard the house was deserted. The inmates had fled leaving the remains of their charred house behind.

After much searching we finally tracked down Kamala and her husband. Kamala was still in shock even though she had been expecting an attack. "I agreed to participate in the UNP protest only because the government agreed to provide us with security. But I never expected my house to be burnt down three days after the protest," Kamala said.

According to Kamala, on February 1, 2001 she and her husband had laid out the mat to go to sleep, when she heard her mother-in-law screaming that four vehicles were heading towards their house. She and her husband barely had the time to get out of the house before the four vans drove up and the attack began.

"There is a street light outside our house. The gang first disconnected the light so that nobody could see what was happening and then I heard the glasses of the windows shatter and then the door breaking down. While we ran out of the back door we heard the smashing of our furniture, the TV set and the rest of our valuables. While running out of the house I tripped and fell in the backyard. My leg was injured and I couldn't run fast. So I hid behind a tree in the garden and hoped that the gang wouldn't find me. If the attackers had flashed a torch in that direction they would have definitely seen me. But for my luck they didn't come to the back of the garden. After setting fire to our house and furniture the gang fired some shots into the air, threw a hand grenade and left," Kamala said. Kamala and her husband spent that night in the jungle. The police arrived at only 9 am the following morning.

"A woman should have the freedom to dress how she likes. Just because I wore a blue saree and participated in a protest doesn't mean that I want to disgrace the president. I'm a person who knows what's right and what's wrong and I would never do anything to humiliate anybody, most of all the president of this country. Before the protest even started I was suffering from sore eyes. My left eye was affected before the protest and during the time of the protest my right eye got affected. Since I had to walk quite a distance on those days I put a plaster on my eye to protect it from the dust and the sun. If I had no eye infection I would never have put the plaster in the first place," Kamala who heads the UNP branch of the Madawela polling division, said.

"I'm a good Buddhist and believe that harming anybody is a sin. So why should I humiliate the president? I believe that the public was purposely provoked by repeatedly showing this picture of me on TV," Kamala said.

According to a participant in the protest there had been three persons imitating the president. In one, a person dressed like the president was been pulled by a rope that was tied to her neck. The second was a imitation of the president travelling in a vehicle and waving to the public while drinking a beverage. The third was Kamala dressed as the president. But it was only Kamala's act with a special focus on the eye that was constantly highlighted on TV.

"At the protest it was obvious that a man with a camera covered by two policemen was constantly filming Kamala from behind a tree. When I saw this incident I knew it was a set-up and even told some others. Before I could take down the number of the vehicle it drove away," another participant said.

UNP provincial councillor of the western provincial council Olitha Premaratne has offered to pay for the repairs to the house.

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