How Sujewani Chandima saved her Muslim neighbors
When a violent mob stormed into Mallakele settlement it needed only one brave woman to stop them.
A group of nearly 500 youth stormed Naththandiya town on 13th of May around 6.00 pm acting violently and destroying properties of the Muslim community and thereafter to Thummodara Mallakele settlement with the dusk while the unarmed civilians were hiding in shock without being able to do anything. They did not have any strength to oppose it other than to watch it while in hiding.
Before the fading of the unfortunate incidents on Easter Sunday, Sujewani Chandima residing in Thummodara Mallakele settlement was confused and thinking how to safeguard the Muslim friends from extremists in the face of a series of incidents. After taking a strong decision she went to the garden through her front door of the house and to the midst of the violent mob which was shaking her village.
Although she saw poles, steel pipes as well as swords in the hands of some of the youth who were destroying the houses of Muslims of her village, she mustered courage and shouted “ These are houses of our people, don’t destroy them”. The mobsters stopped in the face of the voice of the courage and brave woman. They stopped damaging the houses in the village. Finally they withdrew and left the village.
When the violent mob left the settlement, they had damaged many houses and shops in the area but this woman was able to save 3 houses of Muslims, 14 members of their families who were staying in their homes.
“When I was coming back from Kottaranmulla town on 13th I saw a large number of people were storming in. They were coming while destroying properties of Muslims in the town. I thought they would storm in to Mallakele settlement. Muslims are living around my house. They live with us every day and they are good people”. Sujewani Chandima says by recalling her memory.
“I came soon and told everyone to take their valuables, leave and hide. After few minutes that group surrounded our village and came forward destroying Muslim houses. Before that group came I took Muslims living in three houses near by my house and kept them safely. I took measures to prevent any damages to those three houses. When the youth left those staying in my were surprised to see their houses were saved”, Sujewani Chandima said with happiness about the results of her efforts.
“My two sons and husband saved their houses after a big fight. I was overwhelmed with happiness for being able to save at least the lives and properties of my neighbors”, she said.
A. K. Halima Bibi (64) who faced this unfortunate incident still cannot believe what has happened. It is like this that she put out her feelings through words which she was keeping to herself.
“Sujewani daughter is living in front of my house. She came shouting from the road side suddenly and said Halima aunty come soon all of you to hide in side my house. I could not understand what was going to happen. After few minutes about 500 surround our village. We ran to Sujewani daughter’s house and hid. By that time, Mohamed Riswila’s family and those who are in the other house had come. We hid with them”, when she was recalling this incident she had the fears in her eyes similar to that day.
It was not that Sujewani who saved Muslim neighbors including Halima did not come under the threats of extremists. Extremists saw the saving of her neighbors whom she associate daily with loving care as a fault. Therefore Sujewani even did not like to express her views to media. Halima had another experience. She had been blamed by her own people at Thummodara Mallakele for hiding in a house of a Sinhalese and saving her life and property.
“Whatever happened to our properties we stayed in Sujewani’s house while suffering in mind. For thousand times we thought our houses have been destroyed and everything is burnt. We made up our mind thinking that our lives were not harmed”, Halima said. But she was not correct.
“We came out around 9 in the night. When we came and look no damage has been caused to our house. We were surprised. When all this was happening even god did not come to our mind but we saw Sujewani daughter, her husband and son as god. If they were not there we could have had only the cloth we are wearing today”, she said with a sigh.
When Halima was speaking Sujewani who was staying close innocently smiled experiencing a compassionate happiness.