“You should not let these men (politicians) to come out. Their presence in public places itself threatens the common men. I do not know why it has become a matter of prestige for them to move with 10-15 uniform security personnel carrying lethal weapons” a High Court in New Delhi observed in October 2007Â during a Court hearing into inconveniences caused to theÂ public by politiciansÂ in that country. Observing they were not a “national asset”, the two judges who made the observation,Â Justice T.S. Thakur and Justice Veena Birbal also told politicians to remain in the confines of their homes and offices if they feel threatened by citizens.
The judges could well have been speaking for us Sri Lankans given the unbearable situation that has arisen of late in the country, where for the convenience of a handful of politicians, roads are sealed off entirely leaving large numbers of people stranded in the scorching sun and the pouring rain. Pregnant woman who are a stones throw from a maternity homes are shoved inside shops so that VIPs traveling at breakneck speeds can pass by while schools children exhausted and hungry after their long day in schools suffer inside buses, vans and even trains.
One would think that inÂ a democracy, it would be the people who should enjoyÂ their legitimate rights and not the politicians who get themselves electedÂ by making false promises andÂ pretending to be the servants of the masses.Â Constitutionality, sovereignty is vested in the people and we elect the Executive and the Legislature toÂ exercise that Sovereignty on our behalf. But what do we get in return instead.
Citizens elect politicians to office. Yet politicians enjoy the rights of all citizens as their private privilege. Citizens are forced to grin and bear. Which gives rise to another pertinent question. Why do people in democracy put up this kind of harassment and suppression of their constitutionally enshrined right to freedom of movement?
The now common sight of armedÂ military men standing in front of huge steel barricadesÂ with people standing behind Â themÂ for up to an hour at timesÂ is more befitting of a Â dictatorial regimeÂ and notÂ that of a country that boasts of having hadÂ democratically Â elected government since 1947 and has enjoyed universal l franchise for even longer.
What has happened to the spirit of us Sri Lankans that we put up with the most atrocious injustices against us without a whimper? Have the politicians managed to get the better of the people and break their spirit to such an extent that now, people are prepared to take anything that is handed out to them and forget that they are infact the ones who have all the rights in this country?
“The more people (security men) surrounds these people (politicians) the more prestigious they feel. It is obnoxious that common men are forced to stay on the sidelines and are prevented to walk on the pavements when the politicians pass through”, the New Delhi Judges said.
It is time that the people of Sri Lanka too said the same thing and acted to put the politicians in their place.