The pre-dawn attack on Siyatha television channel has once again raised questions about the safety of independent journalists and private news enterprises in Sri Lanka.
A group of heavily armed men attacked the Siyatha channel’s office early Friday, ransacking it and exploding petrol bombs on their way out. The ensuing fire gutted the channel’s news and control rooms.
The attack took place in a well patrolled part of the city.
The Daily Mirror newspaper’s editorial pointed out how brazenly it was carried out. “…Hunupitiya Lake Road is too central for an ordinary gang to come in two vehicles, assault the employees and bomb the place and get away scot-free,’’ it said.
The incident was the latest in a series of assaults against individual journalists and well-planned attacks against media offices.
In March, the Sirasa television channel office was attacked by a mob on the pretext that it was sponsoring rapper Akon’s concert in Colombo.
The singer, the protesters said, had insulted Buddhism in one of his music videos. In reality, the channel was only a part sponsor of the event and the real motive was left to speculation.
The case of the missing political analyst and cartoonist Prageeth Eknaligoda is another one, which the media keep’s raising but investigations into which seemed to be heading no where. Eknaligoda went missing on January 24 and till date the police have failed to provide any breakthrough.
The Island newspaper, in its editorial pointed out other unresolved cases: “those responsible for the attacks on the Sunday Leader, the MTV studio, the Sudar Oli office in Colombo and the Uthayana head office in Jaffna have not been arrested in spite of the much advertised deployment of special police teams.’’ The government, the editorial added, has to arrest those behind the latest attack or “it will continue to remain a suspect in the eyes of the public.’’