The Police Spokesman, SSP Ajith Rohana, was quoted by Ceylon Today on Monday as saying the police officers are afraid to man check points during the night due to the fear of armed robbers and criminals. His confession sheds light on the increasing lawlessness and the collapse of law and order in the country. The police incompetence was vindicated in no uncertain terms in Aluthgama on Sunday, where police had been ham-fisted in controlling the riots in the coastal town.
Now, it appears, as the Police Spokesman himself admits, police officers themselves are feeling an overwhelming sense of insecurity. Nonetheless, it is also important to give the discerning readers a backgrounder to the Police Spokesman’s remarks, which came in the wake of the execution style killing of a young motorcyclist by a trigger-happy cop on the night of Poson Poya. One cannot help but suspect that Ajith Rohana is making a feeble effort to absolve his kith from the culpability in the murder.
However, it is the failure on the part of the police higher-ups to act decisively against the undesirable elements within the police force that has resulted in the police losing public trust.
It is important that the police regain its lost trust. However, that is made difficult by the regular political interference in the police service and the servile inclination of some of the police top brass, who slavishly carry out the wishes of the politician. The most shocking of such episodes is the attempts that have reportedly been made by the police higher-ups to implicate a junior cop who had allegedly been assaulted by the henchmen of a deputy minister, who had also set ablaze the personal car of their victim. The police higher-ups had tried to falsely accuse the cop himself for setting his vehicle on fire, in order to claim insurance. The recent media exposure of the incident would dissuade the top brass from going ahead with the lowly tactic.
Needless to say, when the top echelons of the police force loss self respect, that is bound to have a domino effect on the entire force. Some of the recent developments in the police are a reminder of the absolute negation of value that the police are supposed to stand for. It is no surprise that such individuals struggle to carry out their duties when their service is most needed.
In Aluthgama, the lax police response resulted in the spread of riots, which cost three lives and injured 80 people. The fundamental duty of the police is to ensure law and order of the country. However, it is shocking that the police top brass who regularly obtain Court Orders to ban even the smallest protest march launched by the university students and trade unions, have allowed the ultra-nationalist Bodu Bala Sena to hold a rally in the vicinity of Aluthgama, three days after a minor communal conflagration. The rally and a subsequent protest march added fuel to the fire.
It is important that the police investigate its failure in controlling the incident. President Mahinda Rajapaksa issuing a message from Bolivia has vowed not to allow anyone to take the law into their hands. Nor, should police allow a microscopic minority of rabid nationalists to take the law into their hands and destroy the painstakingly built ethnic harmony in the country.