Colombo, Sri Lanka – Banyan News Reporters learns that officials investigating wacky behaviour in a large number of Sri Lankans since May this year have uncovered disturbing evidence, indicating that a significant majority of the population have been acting under the influence of illicit drugs for many years.
BNR spoke to Mr Upul Amarakoon, a community intervention officer working for the Alcohol and Drug Information Centre (ADIC) who had extensive experience in dealing with drug users. â€œTo be honest, I thought I noticed peculiar behavioural patterns in the community for a while now!” he says. â€œI can’t exactly say for sure when I started, but what actually made me notice that something was wrong is the behaviour of foreigners who visited Sri Lanka”.
For many years, officials from International Humanitarian Organisations have shown distinct symptoms of drug use after visiting Sri Lanka that they had not shown during or after their visits to other conflict areas in the world such as Iraq and Afghanistan. Mr Amarakoon points out that â€œChange in overall attitude and personality, excessive talkativeness, paranoia and tantrums, chronic dishonesty, difficulty in paying attention and forgetfulness are all classic symptoms of substance abuse.
The spread and intensity of peculiar behaviour was even more apparent among Sri Lankans and have caught the attention of the whole world in recent years. The lame public sector and corrupt politicians such as Mervyn Silva have for decades stood out as alarm calls about a deep-rooted social issue. However, the well known Sri Lankan terrorist group led by Velupillai Prabhakaran were notorious for their drug smuggling operations throughout and South and Southeast Asia and many saw them as the root cause of the problem and all efforts to stem the substance abuse crisis in the country were focussed on eradicating terrorism.
â€œLike many others, I expected the problem to ease once the LTTE has been eradicated” admits Amarakoon who was disturbed by the fact that the symptoms became even more acute after the war. Towards the latter stages of the war, Mr Amarakoon recalls stumbling on a group of people who were trying to get a fix by smoking an effigy of David Milliband in front of the British high commission. â€œI thought it was a sign that with the demise of the LTTE, they were running out of other forms of narcotics, but later events have shown than this was not the case”.
Amarakoon points out that he recognised that the problem had penetrated deep into the social fabric of the country when the health minister blamed the Dengue epidemic on Mini Skirts and the army commander wanted to recruit another one hundred thousand soldiers after the war had ended! But experts realised the problem was really gotten out of control when the Buddhist monks started calling the president various names. â€œI mean, I have worked for many years with drug addicts and I know how doped you must get to come up with a names like “Vishva Keerthi Sri Thri Sinhaladheeshwara” and “Sri Lanka Rajawansa Vibooshana Dharmadeepa Chakravarthi”, Amarakoon whispered.
The unfolding events found investigators helplessly looking for explanations when aÂ chance discovery by customs officials unravelled smugglers using potatoes as their medium. Samples tested on suspicion from lunch packets of government officials, food offerings at temples, and buffets at army headquarters contained devilled potatoes, potato curry, mashed potatoes and potato balls contained heavy doses of illicit, brain-numbing and fattening chemicals.
Mr. Amarakoon however is not satisfied with the immediate conclusions of these tests and urges the public to be careful about the kinds of food and thoughts they consume. â€œIf you take the history of Sri Lanka”, he points out, â€œthere is evidence that potatoes were not always the preferred way of doping people”.
It’s true. Sri Lankans have been doped before by bread (at Rs 3.50) and free rice.