Attempt To Silence The Pen, Again?
By Easwaran Rutnam
Faraz had reported on corruption in some government institutions including a controversial deal involving the Norochcholai Coal Power Plant.
He had also reported extensively on the Golden Key Credit Card issue, the last being the luxury lifestyle being enjoyed by the failed promoters of the Golden Key Credit Card Company, Lalith and Cecille Kotelawala, disregarding the plight of over 9,054 depositors who jointly, severally and individually lost a staggering Rs. 26 Billion when the company ran aground in 2009.
What was an ordinary Friday night in the newsroom at The Sunday Leader newspaper last week turned into shock and horror as news reached us that Faraz had been shot.
Just minutes earlier Faraz was on the telephone with Deputy Chief Sub Editor Saro Thiruppathy clarifying one of his stories.
Suddenly the telephone line got cut. Saro tried and tried to get through to Faraz again on the telephone but failed.
Eventually news reached us that he had been shot. The Editorial team rushed to the Kalubowila hospital where he had been admitted for treatment.
It was here that the sequence of events of what had taken place became more clear. Faraz had been shot at by a group of unidentified men in his house at hotel road in Mount Lavinia.
Faraz had mentioned on an earlier occasion that he had faced threats but had not reported the matter to the police.
A group of men had just two weeks ago visited his house and asked the domestic employee at the gate if he was there. The domestic had however said he was out.
It was clear that the attack on Faraz was well planned and coordinated as the gunmen knew the exact time he was at home on Friday, where his room is located and if he was alone in his room.
Eyewitnesses said they saw three men running away from his room following the shooting incident.
The house in which Faraz is staying is also a mini guest house. A group of foreign tourists who had just checked in a day earlier said they heard a commotion and screams on the night of the shooting.
“We heard Faraz shouting and banging on our door. When we opened the door we saw him full of blood. We then realized what had happened and got his car keys and rushed him to hospital,” one tourist said.
Doctors at the Kalubowila hospital said that shrapnel from the bullet had got lodged on his lower neck close to the shoulder.
Faraz had later requested to be transferred to a private hospital but the hospital said they do not admit gun-shot patients.
He was later transferred to the Colombo National hospital. Director of the National hospital Dr. Anil Jayasinghe said that Faraz was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit yesterday for observations.
By last evening the doctors had managed to remove a bullet shrapnel which was lodged close to his shoulder on his neck.
“He is stable but we need to observe his condition very carefully. We are carrying out some tests on the object in his body,” Dr. Jayasinghe told The Sunday Leader.
The police yesterday recorded statements from eye witnesses and conducted investigations at the site of the shooting. It was still not clear if the attack was related to his writing or over a personal issue.
Faraz holds British and Sri Lankan passports and the BBC reported yesterday that the British High Commission in Colombo had voiced its concerns over the shooting.
The shooting incident drew dark memories of attacks on The Sunday Leader newspaper, the most shocking being the assassination of the founding Editor of The Sunday Leader Lasantha Wickrematunga in January 2009.
However one thing is for sure, the attack on Faraz will not deter the newspaper, as it continues to remain unbowed and unafraid.