On the 5th of last month, the whole Kurunegala area looked like a big lake filled with water. That was with the heavy rains that had affected the area. The canals were overflowing with rainwater. An incident involving the unfortunate death of an innocent school child who fell into a moat filled with water was recently reported from Kurunegala Jayantipura. Almost everyone in the country was shocked by this incident.
The 14-year-old Sajitha Gihan Gunaratne, who studied in the 09th grade of Kurunegala Maliadeva Primary Model School, was the victim of this accident. He was on his way home from school when he met with this accident at around 2 pm on a side road in Kurunegala Vehera area. The accident happened about 500 meters from Maliadeva Model College. When Sajitha was coming out of school, a van transporting school children came and it is speculated that he had veered off the road, where he fell into an unsafe ditch full of water. The fact that the road is very narrow is also considered as another factor that affected this accident.
On other days, his grandmother comes near the school to pick up Sajitha, but due to the heavy rain that day, neither the grandmother nor Sajitha’s parents have been able to come. However, Sajitha, who had fallen into the ditch near the road in the middle of the heavy rain, was swept into the culvert and his school bag was seen floating on the surface of the water by a neighbor. According to the notification given on the suspicion that he had, the local residents took steps to launch an operation to find Sajitha.
Sajitha was trapped in a culvert after being caught by the flood and washed away along the canal. Kurunegala Municipal Council employees and local residents along with security personnel worked continuously for 4 hours to rescue Sajitha. They were able to remove the concrete floor of the canal using a backhoe and finally find Sajith. However, Sajitha was already in a serious condition. They arranged for him to be admitted to the intensive care unit of the Kurunegala General Hospital as soon as possible, but that evening, Sajitha bid farewell to his life leaving everyone crying.
After this sad incident, Sajitha’s grandmother had commented like this.
Water near the paddy field. Therefore, it is impossible to go beyond that. Then when I went there, three or four people were there. Later I shouted that it was my son. No one has seen…’
Sajitha’s father had expressed his views like this.
My son has fallen into the ditch along with the waterway. No one has seen. Either you want to see the van driver….’
This is what the mother said about the untimely death of her beloved son Sajitha.
How can I go now when I see my other sons? Now there are only three. How do I look at it? My treasure come here and talk to my treasure… come and talk to this mother who is crying … you left …made mother mad my son…?’
Sajitha is the youngest child in the family. Sajitha’s mother, father and aunt are in deep shock and pain. They cannot bear the trembling in their hearts.
A neighbor of Sajitha said something like this.
We have been talking about this for 25 to 30 years. No matter how much we tell the authorities about these irregular canals, they do not fix them. Earlier, an old man came and fell here. That day four or five boys saved that man. from death. There is also a pit near Bandaranaike School. There is no drain there either. No matter how much is said, no one understands this. We have been asking for a long time to repair these by laying pipes. They leave small pipes. They won’t work…’
How much did this little child who fell into the river have to struggle to save his life? The child was finally resting on an iron post under the culvert. Struggling with that body of water must not have been an easy task for little Sajitha. He must have screamed in pain. But no one heard.
Sajitha’s postmortem determined that this was a drowning death. His body was brought home on the evening of last 6th amid the sobs of family members, school students and local residents.
There is a special point that many people should take into consideration in this sad event. It means that parents should pay more attention to their children. If a small child is walking on the road, drivers who drive vehicles should pay special attention to this. Drivers should pay more attention to pedestrians, especially during heavy rain when water is flowing all over the road. We are of the opinion that if Sajitha had come forward before the accident and the driver of the van had taken care, this death could have been avoided.
In our country with irregular road systems, parents and all adults should take care to prevent such accidents from happening again.
While Sajitha’s fate was resolved like this, information about another sensitive incident was reported from the Weligama Municipal Council area. On the 7th of last month, five school children went uninvited to a wedding ceremony held at the Weligama Municipal Council Hall with the intention of quenching their unbearable hunger.
It was reported that these school children were 12, 13, 16, 17 years old. Thus, when they tried to enter the wedding ceremony uninvited and try to eat, they were caught by the municipal council employees and the employees made the students kneel down. Later, on the notice of Weligama Mayor Yamuna Kanti, the Weligama police came and took away these children.
One among the children who were taken to the police spoke like this.
They cook food for a large number of people for that wedding ceremony. We have gone there before to eat leftovers. An uncle who was cooking told us to come and eat. Accordingly, when the five of us left, someone who was there asked us to wait a little. Meanwhile, the mayor and several others came and scolded us and told us to kneel down by the stairs. We were very embarrassed because there were so many people. After some time the police came and took us away. After scolding us at the police, three hours later we were handed over to our parents…’
When we asked the Chairperson of Weligama Municipal Council Mrs. Yamuna Kanti about this incident, she said that the people in question had come to rob. However, Mr. Rehan Jayawickrama, the former chairman of the city council, had arranged to treat those children in a completely different way. He had taken steps to give these children a delicious meal with his money.
Back then, our country was known as the Granary of the East. But it is a pity that our country has reached the top among the countries suffering from the food crisis. Also, Sri Lanka has come forward in terms of child malnutrition.
In such an environment, a significant percentage of our country’s children do not receive a nutritious meal. In many homes, one meal is enough to spend the whole day. Mainly because of poverty, these five helpless children who came to eat a bite of rice were forced to knee down without any human feelings.?
Due to the irregular road system of the Kurunegala Municipal Council, when the ditches overflowed and children died under the culverts, there were no responsible persons in the municipalities to build those roads and culverts. But the chairman of the Weligama Municipal Council acted immediately to make the children kneel down saying that they will eat a mouthful of rice to satisfy their hunger.
In every part of the country we see and hear information about maladministration. How many people, including innocent children, will suffer due to this irregular administration? As for the children, it should be mentioned that they also have some responsibility. It is a fact that we all agree that it is wrong to sneak into a wedding and eat without looking for right and wrong. But it should be mentioned that the officials of Weligama Municipality had ample opportunity to think about them humanely and respond more sensitively.