A commendable step | Daily News

A commendable step

President Maithripala Sirisena, no doubt, will receive a bouquet each from all those policemen who were unjustly transferred for treading on the toes of local politicians and at the best of racketeers. Addressing members of Police and Armed Forces at the Janapathy Prasansha award ceremony at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium on Wednesday, the President said he would put an immediate halt to the lightening transfers of policemen who had rubbed on the wrong side of powerful personages in the area of their operations. He said transfers of OICs of Police stations at the instance of drug racketeers and other miscreants engaged in illegal activities would soon be a thing of the past. The President said he would issue a directive to ensure that Police transfers were made according to the annual and principled transfers’ scheme and if transfers were made outside these provisions to state clearly the reason for the transfer in the very same transfer letter. “I am taking this measure to enable Police personnel to render an honest and sincere service towards the motherland”.

‘Punishment’ transfers of Police personnel who were getting too big for their shoes in the eyes of local politicians had been a perennial problem that has bedeviled the Police Force even in the days of yore. Honest, efficient policemen who were not afraid to implement the law to the letter against powerful figures close to politicians, not just got transferred but had the misfortune of being hounded for the duration of their careers. Hence, a majority of the men in khaki adopted a policy of ‘live and let live’.

However, there were exceptions, where upright men in the Police Force refused to bend to the dictates of politicians and enforced the law fearlessly. The names of Olympian boxer Sumith Liyanage and Rahula De Silva readily come to mind. They lived in the proverbial Lion’s Den, but came out unscathed. Of recent vintage there was the former OIC Peliyagoda, Inspector Samurdhajeeva who defied orders of Chandrika’s Chief of Presidential Security Division, no less, to release the notorious Beddegana Sanjeewa whom he had arrested. The Police service certainly could be proud of such officers who had kept the honour and dignity of their profession intact. The present lot would do well to emulate such officers who had raised the stock of the Police Force.

Unfortunately, there have been a few bad eggs even then, but things appear to have turned for the worse at present. With policemen largely obliged to politicians for their appointments and promotions the tendency has been to look the other way when the laws are being flouted openly by those elements on the good books of the politicians concerned. The war years also saw unsavoury elements find their way into the Police Force due to the lax recruitment criteria employed as a result of the manpower shortage in the Police service. The periodical incidents of police brutality, one comes across today, could be attributed to such elements.

Hence, as IGP Pujith Jayasundera recently decreed, there is an immediate need to revamp and reorganise the Police service.

A key element in the changes should be to make the members of the Police service, from the highest to lowest rank, carry out their duties conscientiously without following instructions of politicians or other powerful elements. The independence of the Police service should be preserved at all cost. Policemen should be told not to compromise where implementation of the law is concerned.

The President who is now in charge of the Law and Order Ministry should equally issue strict instructions to all politicians to keep their hands off the Police. This way, his battle against the narcotics menace would be half won. It goes without saying that there is a strong nexus between politicians and the drug business. One recalls how a once powerful Minister, who is still a Member of Parliament, visited the home of a well known drug baron to pay his last respects to the latter who was slain during a turf war with a rival. It was yet another politician, well known for his public antics, who escorted a leading drug racketeer to the airport to see him off to safety when a warrant was issued for his arrest. It is within the realms of possibility that this link between powerful politicians and the drug underworld still exist, perhaps to a larger degree. A shoot-out between two rival gangs of the drugs underworld that resulted in the death of a woman occurred during a canvassing round of a politician during the 2015 general elections campaign.

Police stations should also be made out of bounds for politician. The perennial practise of politicians entering the Police stations and occupying the chair of the OIC should stop. At least one such politician who was a minister in the CBK Government met his match when he was shown the door by a fearless Police officer, who is now no more, when the former threw a tantrum inside the Police station to obtain the release of a supporter from Police custody. The Police service needs officers of such mettle today, who can stand up to cowardly politicians who try to the throw their weight around.


 

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