119, Buddhism and being Sinhalese

Source (09.07.08)  –  groundviews

Take it from me, being a responsible citizen in this country sucks, big time.

Take last Saturday for example. There I was, driving along with my parents when I saw this lorry which was being driven about like the driver’s pants were on fire. Not only was he driving fast, he was driving all over the road. Being the responsible citizen I am, I decided to do the only viable thing.

I got my gun out and shot him.

Well, not really. I don’t own a gun, and I don’t think I can muster up the nerve to do something like that.

I called 119.

After getting a busy signal for a while, I got through to them, gave details of the lorry, and then proceeded to video what was going on. I took a clip of about five minutes, and called 119 again since I couldn’t see anything happening.

The lorry turns into a side street, and I do the next most viable thing. I go to the nearest police station (Seeduwa) to lodge an entry. After waiting for 35 minutes (the person has gone to have breakfast), they took the complaint down. Apparently I need to state my race and religion when lodging a complaint.

What difference does it make? I’m lodging a complaint against a reckless driver whom I thought was a danger to society and the Police wants to record my race and religion? Silently blaming it on ignorance on their part, I blurted out that I’m a Sinhalese, and since I couldn’t be bothered to explain what (or who) an atheist is (I am one), I told him I’m a Buddhist.

They gave me an official acknowledgment thing, and thanked me. I came out, called my mother to tell her to come and pick me up, and waited outside.

After a short while, a police officer who was coming into the station asked me what I was doing, to which I said I’m waiting for someone to come and pick me up. He told me to move a bit further away, as I’ve been standing in front of a Judge’s place, and then asked me one of the most pointless questions someone has ever asked me.

“Sinhalada?“? (Are you Sinhalese?)

How is it relevant? Remember how I spoke earlier about the sometimes automatic association of Tamil=Terrorist in the South? How in the world is my race or ethnicity relevant?

This however, is not the true shocker. The true shocker came when I went back to talk to the OIC of the said Police Station about the follow up action for the lorry. I told him what happened with the other police officer, and then he tells me,

“That’s not a wrong question for a police officer to ask. We are empowered under the law to ask any question we want. You just think it’s wrong because your blood is young and your blood is hot. You need to think of the country situation.”

Am I the only person who thinks the question “Sinhalada?” is wrong? So does one’s sense of right and wrong change depend on their age? My blood is hot? Are you for real?

Trust me, I know what the country situation is. I watch news just like the rest of you do, I talk to people just like the rest of you do, I see what’s going on just like the rest of you do. And unlike the real smart people who I’ve been talking to, I understand that questions, biases and prejudices like this do absolutely nothing to help the situation. It only worsens it.

This sucks, big time. It’s not even funny.

Source (09.07.08)  –  groundviews

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