The mob attack on MP Mohan Priyadarshana De Silva’s properties | Sunday Observer

The mob attack on MP Mohan Priyadarshana De Silva’s properties

7 August, 2022

The incidents on May 9 that led to the destruction of the houses of many MPs was frowned upon by the majority of the people in Sri Lanka. It undoubtedly left a black mark on Sri Lanka’s name before the world. Among the houses destroyed by violent protesters was the residence, office as well the ancestral home of Galle district MP Mohan Priyadarshana De Silva.

Full Name - Mohan Priyadarshan De Silva
Date of Birth - 23.12.1966
School - St Aloysius College - Galle
Educational Qualifications - Graduated from Sri Lanka Law College and sworn in as a lawyer (1993)
Milestones in his political career
1996 - Rathgama Electorate Organiser of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party
1997 - Hikkaduwa Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman
2009 - Southern Provincial Council Chairman
2010 - Elected as a Member of Parliament for the first time
2019 - Minister of State for Human Rights and Law Reforms
2020 - Minister of State for Fertiliser Production and Supply
2021 - Minister of State for Coastal Conservation and Lowland Development
2021 - Cabinet Minister for Water Supply

“It caused my family a lot of pain. They had set fire to our home as if it was a mere playhouse. No matter who carried out this act, it will only lead to the further decline of the country. The people are living under difficult circumstances and as their representatives we too are saddened by their plight.

However some people have widely spread a notion that Ministers and MPs do not care for the sufferings of the people and they are all corrupt. But this is untrue. Even if we are paid for the damage caused through these incidents, again public monies are being spent that would have benefited the people and utilised for development purposes. Our property is now gone but such acts of violence must be prevented going further,” he said.

De Silva was born the eldest of four children, in Mahamodara, Galle. His father A.Karunasena was a Government employee and his mother K.D Ariyawathie was a housewife. Living in a house called A.K.D Bakery or Bakariye Gedara he lived a simple life. De Silva was first educated at the Ratgama Sirisumana Vidyalaya and later enrolled at St. Aloysius College in Galle. Entering Sri Lanka Law College in 1990, he was admitted to the bar in 1993 and commenced his legal career at the Galle Courts. De Silva married fellow lawyer Ashika Munasinghe in 2001. Today they are parents to two children.

“No one in my family was connected to politics. Despite being part of various societies and associations while in Law College I had no party affiliation at the time. We worked together for greater good and I had no intention to join politics back then” he said.

But becoming a close confidant of senior politician Richard Soysa, De Silva entered politics in 1996 after being appointed as the Sri Lanka Freedom Party organiser for the Rathgama electorate. In his first election ever, the very next year De Silva was elected to the Pradeshiya Sabha, going on to be elected to the Parliament in 2010. In 2019 he was appointed as the State Minister for Human Rights and Legal Reforms.

In 2020, De Silva was re-elected to Parliament for the third time after obtaining 111 626 votes and was appointed a Cabinet Minister. On May 9, as violence spread across the country De Silva was serving as the Minister of Water Supply.

Galle District MP, former Minister Mohan Priyadarshana De Silva

“On May 9 we gathered at Temple Trees to respectfully bid farewell to Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. As we were informed that a Cabinet meeting was also scheduled to be held that evening I also took part in it. It was during this meeting that friends and family from Galle informed me about houses being set on fire. Even though I was living temporarily in Colombo, everything I owned was back in my village. I lost everything in those violent incidents” he recalled.

The house destroyed by violent mobs was on a mere ten-perch land. The upper storey was used as a library consisting of books belonging to the former Minister. Those involved in these incidents also set fire to his ancestral home and office in Rathgama.

“The ancestral home was built by my parents. My younger brother along with his family lived there. It was completely destroyed. The books of my nieces and nephews were reduced to ashes. My house had three storeys. That too was fully gutted. The furniture and everything were lost. Houses can be built, but the memories held within those walls can never be recovered. The birth certificates of my children, our marriage certificate, photographs of my children as babies and even degree certificates.

We have none of those left. The estimated damage is around Rs. 100 million. But the damage to the hearts of our family and especially the children is immeasurable. Everyone in the Galle District knows I toiled hard for everything I had. They had nothing to do with this incident. This was an organised attack by a certain group” he claimed.

Books destroyed in the fire 

According to him, despite the Police informing him that those involved have been arrested, he was not keen to pursue the case. “I will not fault the Police for what took place. There was a serious breakdown of law and order when this incident took place. Not even the Police could control it. I do not believe regular folk in villages took part in these acts.

Neither do I think those engaging in the struggle took part in it as it was a peaceful struggle. My belief is that these acts were committed by persons linked to a political party” he said.

Despite losing all he had, De Silva is determined to carry on.

“This is the first time I faced an incident such as this. I was voted in by the people and I lived on what I earned as a lawyer. I have never earned through politics. Even my wife is still employed. I always stood with the people and I lived a regular life. Those who voted for me are well aware of this.

As a person from a non-political background I built my life with great dedication. Today my family lives in a Government quarters due to our situation. I am unsure if I can rebuild our home. Even if I do, what about the memories that was lost.

None of them can be restored. At first I was deeply upset and saddened by what happened but I made up my mind on the very day itself. I only have one request. That is to not allow similar incidents of violence from happening again. Do not be part of such incidents. If a person desires good rulers, they themselves must be outstanding citizens. Therefore, do your duty as citizens of Sri Lanka. Every citizen has a responsibility to make the country a better place.” he said.

As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “An eye for an eye will leave the whole world blind”. Therefore, citizens must lend their effort in dousing an already burning country rather than stoke the fires that would result in its destruction.

The article is an English translation of Surekha Nilmini Illangakoon