The luxury prison in Hambantota

Published : 9:51 am  February 27, 2017 | No comments so far |  | 


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Beginning from the not-so distant past, kings, queens, emperors, tribal chiefs, captains of ships, others holding high positions and later judges of courts of law had either acquired a right or had been bestowed a right to punish ‘wrong doers’ including those considered as political tyrants. Such punishments ranged from beheading, hanging, walking the plank, slavery, exile and periods in jails with varying standards of habitability and even survival. Clapping ‘criminals’ in irons and isolating them in dungeons and throwing away the key at times was one type of punishment seen in the early Middle Ages.  

Jail in a humane era?

Those barbaric days have gone and man has become more humane–a contestable view. In Sri Lanka the truth is that jails in Sri Lanka are notorious places to stomach. Perhaps for some death is a better option. While behind bars gangs continue to function with impunity, drug distribution and contact with the outside world is a piece of cake through illegal alms given to some in prison management with a penchant to ‘look the other way’. Giving alms also ensures comfortable stays in prisons. The ordinary jailbirds who are jam-packed into ancient stone structures are the ones who bear the full brunt of prison life. They have no space to sleep or lie down, the indifferent food is not fit even for starving dogs and there was no way round the dirt, squalor and the ever-present prison smell. The wash rooms had very special identities   only those who were compelled to use them can describe. Even after their release, some of those inmates claim they still have lavatory-ablution-centred nightmares. 

Did governments ever worry?

At times it appeared that the condition of Lankan jails worried governments. But no-one seriously believed that any government was honestly concerned about the sub-human conditions the citizenry suffered in the country’s jails.  
Not too long ago people of this country sneered and made fun of both legal entities and the law when politicos of a Yama breed found answerable in law and jailed, manipulated the systems and used their influence to be declared ‘medically unfit’ to ensure more comfort. And such pleas for leniencies in custody got the nod from legal benches. There is no need to quote examples because the media went to town with such partialities. In recent times, however, legal eagles sitting in judgment under a ‘Yahapalanaya’, have begun to give ‘nay’ responses to such hoaxes to avoid prison fare citizen Pereras of Lanka endured. Meanwhile the media in a new found freedom under a Yaha regime began to open doors to astonishing Yama secrets.

The ‘Hamban’ luxury prison

“Meeooww, I didn’t believe it; so what I heard was true! The Yamapalakayas  have actually built a luxury prison in Hambans. And now, some nosey-parker had stumbled on that Yama secret is spilling the beans. But, how on earth did they manage to keep it so hush-hush?” Tommo a pussycat was reading the Daily Dodger, his employer’s favourite newspaper. 
“A white elephant of an airport at Wattala, another white elephant called the Hambantota Harbour not too far away, so what’s wrong with a white elephant of a jail?” his companion Ooty an owl and Tommo’s fellow worker at the Wallside Restaurant and Bar posed a pertinent question. The two vermin controllers in a restaurant cum bar owned by Shelton Perera, were spending their off-duty hours in their employer’s house. 


"The Hambans luxury prison has been kept under wraps for three years.  Suddenly the wraps are off; not completely, just a wee-bit. In the rush the Daily Dodger has reported that a Yaha minister has been fishing around the place recently…”


“Purrshsh, for many years our governors’ prisons have been rated worse than the slums in Haiti. So the government with human rights activists hot on their heels thought of building a prison to meet ‘international standards’ whatever those were. And as usual went from one extreme to another like in the movie ‘slum-dog’ millionaire someone thought up,” said pussy reading the report. “I also think that Yama politiccas had foreseen a distinct possibility of their good times coming to an end and a Yaha government turning their guns on them for doing the dirty at a level not heard of before. Astrologers too must have warned the Satakayas big and small the time to face some legal rock music was not far away. It worried the Yamapalakayas: ‘how can we survive life in hell-holes called prisons if we were placed in one?’ And there were plenty of such worriers; it was well-known that Yama politiccas  were crooked, self- serving, bribable rabble all Lankans and Mother Lanka could do without.” 

“Thuhooot, don’t I know.”

“So what did the Satakayas do? In the year 2014, they began to build a luxury prison they could occupy very likely in a special wing when ‘their time came’. As secret as Area 51 in US, it was no run-of the-mill jail but one with star class comforts. Now the thing has been completed and the news of a luxury prison in Hambans, the former Rajathuma’s homeland has leaked. See, they have given all the details here,” purred pussy shaking the Daily Dodger. “The jail complex is on 58 acres, can accommodate 2000 prisoners, has a swimming pool, hospital, indoor sports complex, a play ground, a training unit and what not. Building has commenced on May 16, 2014 and it has cost our governors Rs.5000 million bucks. Not bad, huh? And you should see the photos. If some of those cells are joined up, the place can be operated as a luxury hotel.”
“Thuhoot, but from which hell did they get the money?”
“Think, stupid. The luxury prison was a Sataka regime baby; they only had to e-mail some noodle benefactors for the dough; and they have got it.” 

Luxury confinement-for whom?

 “I wonder how judges are to decide which crook deserves a luxury prison term?” The bird had a point.
“The Satakayas built it for themselves, but they will throw in some ordinary governors too for appearance sake,” chuckled pussy the way pussies do. “They knew when their time came up, there will be no ‘yes’ docs, ‘yes’ judges and other ‘yes’ men for special treatment of any kind. So like scouts they got ‘prepared’. But how could they be sure judges will send guilty Yamapalakayas to the luxury prison at a time Yahapalakayas are in power? Another interesting bit is that the Hambans luxury prison has been kept under wraps for three years.  Suddenly the wraps are off; not completely, just a wee-bit. In the rush the Daily Dodger has reported that a Yaha minister has been fishing around the place recently…”
“Hooooot! Hard to imagine why a Yaha camper had not done that before,” the bird hooted. 
“Don’t you see,” exclaimed the street- smart pussy. “The Yamapalakayas have shown the Yahapalakayas  the Hambans luxury prison before prison sentences begin to roll out against them. Don’t forget that some no-good ex-Yamayas are in cahoots with the Yaha government. So, the Yahapalakayas sent a scout to take a look-see at the luxury prison and report to his bosses who are obliged to take a decision not only on opening it but using it as well.”



“Whooom, whooom whoooom, isn’t there talk that projects the Yamapalakayas initiated  in their innings are being declared open by the Yahaplakayas? Guess the reason? If the Yamapalakayas return to power,  they are bound to catch and jail some Yahapalakayas who have been naughty.”
“Meeoowwohyeah (oh yeah).There are pedigreed black sheep among the Yahapalakayas all right,” pussy grinned.
“It’s then Yaha rogues caught in a Yama net will be glad their predecessors built the Hambans luxury prison. Frankly, I see this as a good-will building exercise by Yamapalakayas and Yahapalakayas when any of them are thrown into jail,” observed the wise-looking bird,
“Purrr, purrrrr…here, there and everywhere, that’s politics for you chum. And politiccas look after themselves, not their countrymen. The Hambans set-up is the grandest example of how our governors’ politiccas keep having the plums even in jail.”