Police must be more effective | Daily News

Police must be more effective

The security situation has taken a turn for the worse in the aftermath of the Galle Face incidents with both the Police and the Army rendered woefully ineffective in controlling the rampaging mobs who were on a spree of vigilantism, arson attacks and other destructive acts driving terror into ordinary people far removed from the scenes at Galle Face and in serious breach of the peace.

The Police ought to have been prepared to deal with the obvious eventualities staring in the face at Galle Face at the very outset, without allowing things to get out of hand. Well over 100 houses of former Ministers, Government MPs and Local Government Members were set on fire. Several Government and Opposition MPs were physically attacked.

These acts of violence could have easily been prevented if Police went into action at the first sign of trouble, took control of the situation and been more assertive in having their way. What was seen on TV during three days of violence and lawlessness was a completely different picture of policemen behaving lethargically and in most instances acting as mere bystanders in the face of the unfolding destruction, which is a sad indictment on the country’s Police Force.

The scenario was reminiscent in many ways to July ’83 where the Police looked the other way while the marauding mobs set fire to homes and shops of innocent Tamils. Of course, some of the victims in the present instance were far from innocent and had long been the object of anger of the general public for the lavish lifestyles they led through ill-gotten wealth and acts of corruption. But as citizens of this country, they were entitled to the full protection of the Police, which sadly failed in their duty.

Interestingly, certain MPs from the Government who were critical of the administration and called for the resignation of the Prime Minister too were not spared by the mob who torched their residences. But no MP from the Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) or the Jathika Jana Balavegaya (NPP) had any damage caused to their residences by attackers.

While the Police may not have been prepared for the scale and nature of the violence, it certainly should have studied the trends and prevented what followed on the next day where the attackers went into a frenzy.

A pattern seemed to have followed the day after when specific individuals and supporters of the ruling party were sought out by the mobs, once again recalling Black July when organised groups armed with “lists” sought out Tamil homes and businesses. The Police were again caught napping when it should have anticipated what was to follow with the benefit of hindsight.

The Police went on to prove their inefficiency and ineffectiveness in dealing with the situation and some Police officers too were at the receiving end of the mob. In a sad episode that devalued and demeaned a once proud and awe inspiring Police Service, a Senior DIG was shown on TV being subject to a ferocious assault by members of a mob. His humiliating retreat, sad to say, will not serve to raise the esteem of the Police or its high ranking officers in the eyes of the public.

All this now appears to have given the mobsters the upper hand. No longer are curfew orders obeyed. Mobsters were seen stopping vehicles heading for the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) in Katunayake and their inmates’ identities checked in an apparent bid to ascertain if Government politicians were among them, acting on speculation on social media that some Government leaders were fleeing the country with stolen wealth. Even a Police vehicle was stopped by a mob for the same purpose, which in a nutshell demonstrated the sorry plight to which the Police had fallen today. Looting too is on a rise in the guise of invading homes of businessmen affiliated to Government politicians which is increasingly going unchecked, below the radar of Police scrutiny.

A reassessment of the situation is called for by whoever is in charge in the absence of a Minister of Law and Order, indeed a Government for that matter. The country cannot be allowed to drift into the unknown. The aftermath of the Galle Face incident has also relegated to the background the current unprecedented economic crisis, the astronomical Cost of Living and the chronic shortage of fuel, LP Gas, milk powder and other essential items. Nobody in authority can tell for certain what fate awaits the expected IMF bailout or if the economic aid provided by India and other countries to tide over the present difficulties will still be forthcoming now that the country has slipped into a state of anarchy. The country is also in the midst of a curfew at the time of writing. The President has stated that he was willing to consent to a Prime Minister acceptable to a majority in Parliament and take steps to put the country back on the rails. Hopefully, things would pan out in a positive way and the country would be given another chance to move forward with confidence.


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