OUR VISIT TO ALUTHGAMA & BERUWELA…
A few members of the Ithihaad Ahlis Sunnathi Wal Jamaathi (Dr Fahmy Ismail, Messrs. MSA (Sam) Cader, Nawaaf Mukthar, Ziqufy ismail and Zaeem Hameed) visited Aluthgama and Beruwela on 24th June 2014 on a request made by some of our members in Beruwela. The visit was facilitated by Br. MMM Misraj (from Beruwela) and Moulavi MRM Silmi (from Aluthgama) – both of whom had a thorough knowledge of the sequence of events, the areas damaged and the people affected.Together, we visited many sites. Although the cities appeared to be getting back to a state of normalcy, a feeling of fear and tension was hanging heavily in the air. We could not bear to hear the stories being unfolded.
According to most residents, crowds of many thousands of people marched through the most populous Muslim areas shouting , stoning and carrying various items. It appeared to be mayhem of an unprecedented scale. What remains to be seen now are broken roofs, charred buildings, furniture and household items (TVs, fridges, cookers etc.),burnt school books and documents, remnants of petrol bombs and pieces of glass and debris littered all over the houses and buildings.

This is what they said,
› Muslims were pulled out of local buses and beaten
› Looting and burning of Muslim shops on a large and wide scale
› Houses were first looted and then set on fire and torched
› Men were held in mosques after prayers by the curfew and unable to move while he women had to flee from their homes to take sanctuary behind the fields in the interior
› While the curfew trapped the Muslims who could not move about, the thugs were allowed to enter inner roads and had a free hand – looting, attacking and setting fire to houses and commercial premises
› Muslims were trying to contact the Emergency, the Police, the Fire Brigade – but no response
› Patients were unable to get to hospital on time thus aggravating their fatal condition. Frantic calls to friends and relatives did not help as there was a curfew
› Carnage was not at the spur of the moment.

It is relevant to state that the women had stood strong and bold. They had been in a "jihad mood" – protecting the religion and the family. They were very vocal in their criticism – but those concerned did nothing to stop the rampaging violence.

We met a few of the victims and this is their story,
› Mrs Shahabdeen a retired teacher and widower had been conducting a Montessori for Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim children of the area for many years. A very pleasant andpopular lady, she had been in the school when hundreds of violent men forcibly entered the premises, ransacked the place, damaged furniture, crockery and every possible item. She was threatened and questioned. She had pleaded for safety but the men did not care. A timely intervention of a police officer saved her life. She was taken through the streets (as if she had committed a crime) to the STF officers who spoke to her and took her safely home. There she felt the numbness in her fingers and then realized that throughout this ordeal she had been clutching on to two small booklets – the Yaseen and Sheikh Dawood's recital.
› 32 year old M Alfardeen had been working in the Middle East for nearly ten years. He had got married one year ago, went back to Qatar and returned for good three months ago. Through his earnings abroad he had built a house of his own and came into occupation. This house was completed looted and set on fire Lifes earnings were reduced to ashes in a few hours.
› 18 year old Amjath went with the others when they heard that the mosque was to be attacked. There he received a gunshot injury on his leg. It took nearly one and a half hours before he was taken to the Nagoda Hospital. No immediate treatment had been given. The wound had festered, blackened and smelling. Finally he was taken to Colombo where his leg has been amputated. A crying mother, Mrs Rajab has still not seen the son who is lying in the Colombo Hospital.Amjath is an assistant in a trishaw repairing shop.
› 36 year old M Zahran was in the town. He had just gone to his small sundry shop where he had put in Rs. 50,000.00 worth of goods and cash. He was shot dead. He leaves behind three small children, one an infant.
› Mrs MTM Rouzan is a mother of eight children – 3 boys and 5 girls. Her husband is a teacher. Father died one month ago, mother in iddah. She and her immediate family live in 14 houses – adjoining each other. During curfew time, groups of people had entered and removed all belongings including cash and jewellery (and gold sovereigns) and after removal had thrown petrol bombs and houses burnt.Above – houses belonging to Mrs Rouzan's familyAll these incidents had taken place while the men were trapped with the curfew and the women had fled to safety. Above – houses belonging to Mrs Rouzan's family
› The home of Zarook Hajiar a car dealer whose house, office and all vehicles were burnt completely. All items and cash looted.
› A jewelry shop cum house jewellery and cash robbed and house demolished and burnt. This house had CCTV cameras which had recorded the incident.
› A Muslim shop where Rs. 19 lacks of cash and goods taken and shop damaged. Note the adjoining Sinhala shops which were not touched.

WHAT NEXT ?
It appears that there are a number of organisations and institutions collecting funds to help those in need. However, there is not much co-ordination.
We also observed that food, grocery and medicines are available in stock and are stiil comeing.
From this week, the government has commenced work on the construction of houses. It is hoped that the quality of the construction would be good and this opportunity extends to all families affected by the recent incidents.
We have had discussions with two sunnath jamaath organisations viz. Majlis Ahlissunnath Wal Jama-aathi, Dharga Town, Aluthgama and the China Fort Young Men Halara Jamath, Beruwela (many members of this organisation are also active members of our association).
WE hope to meet regularly, assess the situation and help those in need as and when necessary.
Cheques may be drawn in favour of –

Ithihaad Ahlissunnathi Wal Jamaa Athi
Account No 001-0157858-001
at Amana bank, main branch, Colombo.

Or
posted to Mr Nisreen Magdon ismail
6/3, Dr E A Cooray Mawatha,
Colombo 06.


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