Arrest this alarming trend | Daily News

Arrest this alarming trend

At the beginning of August we wrote in these spaces focusing on the steep rise in the number of killings and the sheer ineffectiveness of the Police to arrest even a single suspect.

According to media reports, in June and July alone, there were 20 such killings, 15 of which were reported from the Southern Province (SP). In August, there were a further 10 more murders, bringing the spate of killings to 30 within just three months. SP DIG Ajith Rohana has since vowed to track down the perpetrators without delay.

On Saturday, the Police Service marked 156 years. However, it is a stunning indictment on the country’s premier law enforcement agency that it has so far failed to apprehend even a single person responsible for these dastardly murders carried out in broad daylight by motorcycle assassins wearing full face helmets. In our aforementioned editorial, we stated that it would only be a matter of time before some innocent bystander(s) fell victim.

This is exactly what happened in yet another daring shooting opposite the Negombo Courts when a pedestrian caught a bullet in his leg injuring him. Courthouses have increasingly become venues for shootings. It was only a few weeks ago that a gunman opened fire at a witness inside the Mt. Lavinia Court before fleeing.

Earlier, Police Spokesman Nihal Talduwa said the main reason for the Police failure to go after the assassins was because their personnel were being deployed to provide security to filling stations and protest venues. There is no need for the Police to do this anymore, with the queues almost non-existent and the situation, for the most part, returning to normal.

Sri Lanka’s Police Service has more than 80,000 personnel and not all of them were deployed to restore order at filling stations or protest venues. IGP C. D. Wickremaratne should view the whole picture with utmost seriousness and get his personnel cracking to go after the killers.

Mentioning ad nauseam that the killings were due to underworld gang rivalry and drug involvement won’t suffice, unless concrete action is taken to address this harrowing situation that is claiming lives each day. The Police should be trained to the level of a combat force like the Army to face the gunmen and beat them at their own game.

Although the Police say that the killings were being directed by drug lords operating from abroad, the murders are being committed on local soil. Why not go after the known felons? We hear Police Spokesmen parroting out the aliases of well known criminals saying that this one is so and so’s Golaya (accomplice) responsible for many murders. Then why not go after the kingpins?

The nonchalant manner in which these motorcycle killings are carried out, as shown on TV news from CCTV footage, gives one the impression that there is no law in this country and that we have become another Chicago. The assassins come on their motorcycles, the pillion rider with the T56 in hand, casually approach the victim, spray bullets and casually mount the machine and make good their escape watched on by helpless onlookers.

During the fear psychosis in 1988-99 following similar killings conducted by motorcycle riders where politicians were the main targets, the Government imposed a ban on full-face helmets in a bid to properly identify the killers. A similar measure should be adopted at present as well as an interim measure until the Police are able to get their act together and go after the culprits in earnest.

If this state of affairs is allowed to continue, very soon the country will be dubbed as a ‘killing field’ as we were called in those dark days in the late eighties when people were gunned down on roads, near culverts and in public places by ‘unidentified’ assassins. It is the primary task of the Police to protect the innocent public but sadly this is not being done as it should.

On the contrary, the Police have been selective in enforcing the law mostly at the behest of politicians while the people are left in the lurch. The Police should be made to live up to its main identity as the country’s premier civil enforcement agency.

The Police as a whole should be upgraded and modernized to enable its men and women to face new challenges. Crime has evolved new dimensions due to the involvement of the drugs element and also the free circulation of firearms - a direct result of the 30-year-old conflict.

As a first measure steps should be taken to round up all firearms by offering an amnesty to those who surrender them, no questions asked. This time it should be carried out effectively unlike in the past when after the initial brouhaha, the matter was completely forgotten.

Incentives should also be offered to the public to provide more information on criminals and the circulation of firearms. Every possible measure should be tried out to arrest the deteriorating situation and provide a peaceful climate for the public to move about freely without fear and to lead a normal existence.

 

 


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