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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2704

Kondaya: hairy representation of scary developments

Hemantha Abeywardena writes from London…

In the aftermath of the brutal murder of the 5-year-old girl from Kotadeniyawa, the alleged culprit, Kondaya, who was taken into custody, has since been hounding by mobs with no sign of abating, perhaps in the hope of lynching him at the first available opportunity - adding an extra layer of worry to the law-enforcement authorities, of course.

Sri Lanka always had its share of child murder cases in the past – few and far between, though. What this incident shows, however, is the increasingly brutal nature of the crimes and the accelerated expansion of killing sprees throughout the nation, making mockery of the meaning of symbols of the religious significance at every nook and cranny of the country.

As a knee-jerk response, death by hanging became a hot topic in the public domain again, as deterrence. No sooner had it hit the headlines, than yet another child was murdered in a locality in the outskirts of Colombo – much more brutally than what Kondaya committed, delivering a slap in the face for those who advocate death penalty.

Prior to both cases, police caught the man who had pushed his wife and the child into the sea in order to marry his mistress. Then, there are incidents involving grown-up men exposing their private parts to children, sexual assaults and even recording what is between their legs.

The spontaneous protests that broke out in Mullathivu and other Northern towns in the wake of Kotadeniyawa murder clearly show that the dreadful phenomenon of child abuse is not something just confined to the South: the tentacles of the national disgrace seems to be everywhere; only do the scale and mode vary slightly from region to region.

Unfortunately, Kondaya, the illiterate son of a petty-thief, became the lightning rod for public anger and disillusion while committing his crime at the wrong time and most certainly at the wrong place. Kondaya’s previous alleged offences, according to media reports, range from acting Peeping Tom to making love with a corpse of a young woman, after digging up her grave.

Even by Kondaya’s standard, he has not committed enough crimes in proportion to his most talked-about, external feature of his persona – the strands of his unkempt hair. That, however, is no cause for breathing a sigh of relief, when you look at the complex nature of crime against innocent children in the land of smiles, especially due to increasingly-regular punctures along the social fabric across the nation.

It is quite naïve of us to believe that the imposition of the death sentence would bring the wave of crime to a sudden halt. The talk of deterrence must, hence, must be taken with a pinch of salt. The tendency of men – a few women too – committing crimes, to be punished by public beheadings in the Middle East, has not stopped them from doing just that, while knowing very well the inevitable consequences. The situation is no different in other countries where the death penalty still exists, including our neighbouring India.

Even if it is brought in, the moment a single instance of miscarriage of justice grabs the headlines, the very people, who advocate the death penalty at present, may rush to reverse the same, while gauging the public mood. In short, the imposition of death penalty – or its removal – still on the fulcrum of emotions rather than the effectiveness of curbing crimes.

Kudos goes to police in nabbing Kondaya before causing more damage and shielding him from baying mobs. Kondaya will most certainly serve a life-sentence for his crime against the 5-year-old girl from Kotadeniyawa. Kondaya’s absence, however, will not be the end of violent cycle that engulfs the country, as the root causes that were instrumental in creating folks like Kondaya remain the same in the contemporary Sri Lankan society.

- Asian Tribune -

Kondaya: hairy representation of scary developments
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