Politico remanded over teacher's harassment:
Victim's father speaks out
In the latest incident, a teacher was forced to kneel by a local
politico, because the teacher reprimanded the politico’s daughter for
wearing a short skirt to School.
A protest march organised
by the staff of Nawodya Vidyalaya
The politico in quetion
The teacher, H.M. P. Susila Herath, 41 joined the teaching profession
after obtaining a Degree. She joined the staff of Nawodya Vidyalaya in
Nawagaththegama to teach Sinhala.
Herath had built a reputation over the years as being a committed and
honest teacher. According to the students she was a strict
disciplinarian. She was respected by students and staffers.
When the Sunday Observer contacted her, for her strict approach she
refused to comment saying “I cannot tell anything to you. Can you
protect me. There is no law in the country today” she lamented. These
words expressed her fear. Reprisals by politico’s against people who
antagonise them are often heard and these stories may have raised a fear
about repercussions," a source said.
However, Susila’s father, H.M. Heenbanda when contacted said, "When I
returned home after finishing my work for the day, I saw my daughter
crying. I asked her the reason why she was crying. But she did not talk
Later I got a phone call about an incident that had taken place where
my daughter was the teacher involved in the incident and added that such
incidents were not new and that the suspect politico was responsible for
other similar incidents as well. He said on an earlier occasion too, the
suspect politico and his goons had attacked two other members of his
family. He said on both occasions they did not complain fearing
H.M. Heenbanda said the suspect was known to harass people in the
village and many people had suffered due to such acts.
Heenbanda said he wanted to expose this incident and bring it out in
the open because it would help to avert such acts in the future.
Heenbanda said he was determined to reveal everything even though he
might face repercussions.
Later on at the behest of her father, the victim spoke of the
humiliation she was subjected to. The teacher said “I am in-charge of
discipline in the school.
I pay special attention to the wearing of the school uniform of
students. Those who wear short uniforms were pulled up and I instructed
class monitors to keep an eye on such incidents”
The teacher said that she was not aware that the girl she reprimanded
in this instance was politico Sarath Kumara’s daughter.
She said she was not bothered about political affiliations and
treated all children alike. The teacher said she believed the law should
apply to all students equally.
Teacher, H.M. P. Susila Herath,
Susila’s father H.M.
Meanwhile, the suspect politico's wife too had come to school earlier
and scolded the teachers in bad language over the incident. “After a few
minutes, the suspect politico had rushed into the school wielding a club
and scolded me in obscene language”.
The intervention of other teachers saved me from physical assault.
But he forced me to kneel down before them. Although I disagreed the
teachers told me to kneel before him, without causing further trouble.
I knelt for a five minutes and I resisted because it was difficult
for me. The PC Councillor forced me to kneel again at that time. He
threatened me saying he would come to my house with three hundred people
and demolish my house within a few minutes”.
Susila further told the Sunday Observer, that people did not give
evidence against the politico as they feared the Councillor’s wrath.
Gunasena Banda, a resident living close to Nawodya Vidyalaya said
that he heard the PS Councillor shouting inside the school premises and
created a racket. Later he saw the teacher, kneeling. “When I reached
the location, the suspect also threatened me not to help her”, he said.
Gunasena Banda further said that the PS Councillor was a nuisance.
There was a karate class close by at the time of the incident. Many
students were practising at that time and they went away. The karate
master also just moved away from the scene. Later, Susila was admitted
to the Nawagaththegama hospital after lodging a complaint with the
Police officers then took the suspect into custody while he was
participating at the 'Deyata Kirula' exhibition. After he was arrested
by police, the Vice Principal who had given an account of the incident
to the police withdrew his affidavit fearing reprisals. he PS Councillor
was produced before the acting Puttalam magistrate, Ranga Dissanayake
and remanded. It was reported in the media that President Mahinda
Rajapaksa had assured the safety of the victim and that action will be
taken in this regard. Ananda Sarath Kumara the PC Councillor in question
was expelled from the SLFP and barred from contesting any future
elections. A disciplinary inquiry by the party has also been initiated.