Police Chief Pujith Jayasundera has launched a new concept of “community policing”. The idea is to get the people to play a bigger role in helping the Police to maintain law and order and minimise crime. The move is laudable but the biggest threat to such an exercise appears to come from politicians.
Then there is the question of some of his own men, like Police Station OICs, most of whom are often arrogant, anti-social and confrontational in their dealings with citizens in their own areas. The latest instance to illustrate the role of politicians comes from Kilinochchi, once the heartland of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). At the Deputy Inspector General (DIG) office there, a special unit operates to conduct lightning raids and bring to book wrong-doers.
This week the unit received a credible tip off that a group of Ganja (Cannabis Sativa) dealers, dabbling in large stocks smuggled in through the northern seas to Sri Lanka, were busy packing stocks. The contraband is the notoriously known “Kerala Ganja” variety said to be in much demand not only in the north but also in the south.
A Special Unit team went into action. They raided the Ganja den at Palai, the area which encompasses a thin strip of land that links mainland Sri Lanka to the Jaffna peninsula. They were in for the seizure of a big haul but an ugly event overtook them.Special Unit members, including a Police Sergeant, were set upon by the Ganja mafia. Using poles they assaulted members of the unit and a fist fight ensued. Police reported the matter to a senior officer who directed that all those who were involved should be rounded up and brought to Kilinochchi immediately. They were told not to hand over the suspects to any other Police Station.
After the assailants were brought to Kilinochchi and the Police were preparing to charge them with the offence of possessing large quantities of Ganja, and also for obstruction of duty and assault. Just then, a senior officer received a call from a key player in the Tamil National Alliance (TNA). He barked orders to the officer, telling him that the men caught were close supporters and to immediately release them. So the men who possessed Ganja and assaulted police officers were, as a Sergeant quipped, “Summa Yanna dunna” purely set free. Summa is a word in Tamil that stands for free.
It turns out that one of the suspects was the brother of the politician’s driver. A gazetted officer in the area, who was angered by the conduct of the politician, quipped sarcastically “this is how they save democracy.”
They have brought the matter to the attention of Police Chief Jayasundera. He is now expected to take up the matter with the Ministry of Defence on the grounds that drug prevention efforts by the Police, particularly in the North, were being stymied by politicians.
As for the conduct of ugly behaviour by his own officers, the Police Chief has said he would initiate tough action against those thwarting the community policing programme. They will be punished after investigations, a police officer said.
Thanks: Sunday times