Bombs and Ombs II
Posted on August 2nd, 2012

Dr.Tilak Fernando

Sri Lankan Police has a vision to work towards a “ƒ”¹…”peaceful environment’ and it is “ƒ”¹…”committed to uphold and enforce law and order of the land’. During the British reign, Governor Fredrick North entrusted the magistrates and Police Judges with the task of supervising the Police in 1797; Police functions became clearly defined in 1805.

On September 3,1866, Governor Fredrick North appointed G. W. R. Campbell as the Superintendant of Police. Ordinance No.16 of 1865 was modified in 1867 to change the Chief Superintendant’s designation to Inspector-General of Police; Lokubanda Dunuwila, the Disawa of Uva, created history in becoming the first Sri Lankan Superintendant of Police for Kandy later. Sir Richard Aluvihare assumed duties as the Inspector General of Police on June 1, 1947, and transformed the Police into a Police Service.

Today the Police are “ƒ”¹…”committed to serve peoples’ needs primarily’ and its principal goal is to show friendship and mutual support to the public. In such a backdrop, cordial investigations and common goodwill and understanding will prevail in developing a healthy relationship between the Police and the community.

Public service of this nature is an arduous task where both bouquets and brickbats are to be expected. A policeman, on the other hand, is not a big cheese descending from above but a human being who is subjected to numerous human frailties, as much as pressures, while in uniform.

Periodically Sri Lankan Police has brought out officers full of character and charisma. Recently I came across a retired SSP, Bandula Senewiratne, who has also been a freelance writer and who appears to call spade a spade. He has published two books in his retirement focusing on a variety of subjects viewing through “ƒ”¹…”civil’ eyes and in “ƒ”¹…”police uniform’.

Bombs and ombs

Bandula Senewiratne’s second paperback, “ƒ”¹…”Bombs and Ombs II’ is full of interesting episodes and anecdotes which are hilarious, caustic, razor sharp and equally objective. He describes his late colleague DIG A.C.A. Gafoor (Gaffor Kakka) as an “enormous police officer this side of Suez,”’ and how Gafoor was designated (during his sub-inspector/Inspector days) to track protestors, rioters and university students alike.

The episode on Elvitigala Mawatha Kola Kenda man involving Police and a powerful minister is somewhat acerbic when he questions at the end of the anecdote: “Are the Police now taking orders from nincompoops performing the duties of hangers on the “ƒ”¹…”yes’ men”?

The chapter on “ƒ”¹…”Passing the Buck’ refers to a banner headline of the Island Newspaper on January15, 2004 – “Assault on Bulathsinhala Divisional Secy. Police to seek A.G’s advice”

Here, in a rather eye opening approach Senewiratne highlights how a “ƒ”¹…”straightforward complainant against a politician for assault’, which constituted a prima facie case against the accused with witnesses recorded in the Police Book should have been left for the courts to decide. While admitting that to record a statement from a parliamentarian, the Police has to first obtain permission from the Speaker of the Parliament, he argues in the same breath whether the public who elect MPs to office by using their franchise are not entitled to know the answers to their complaints!

The Chapter on “ƒ”¹…”Police promotions’ refers to IGP Rudra Rajasingham and Circular No.SE/B7/78/ of 24.02.1978) wherein it states: “Our duty by our subordinates must be kept in mind and they should not be made to suffer in their promotions, for no fault of theirs”. This refers to a case of two ASPs who had been victimised and lost their promotions as a result.

The Chapter on “ƒ”¹…”Shape’ Silva is somewhat witty and of essence and says with particular reference to Silva’s adaptation of “ƒ”¹…”shaping’ techniques how he earned the nickname “ƒ”¹…”Shape Silva’.

Gone are the days

During late “ƒ”¹…”50s and early 1960s schools adopted the English medium and the Police Department had preeminent officers who knew their onions with a copious knowledge of the English language. The Sub-Inspector of Police was a prestigious rank at the time where all applicants had to pass the Senior School Certificate (SSC) English examination with English as a subject. With regard to physical requirements, the chest measurement had to be of a certain girth (deflated) and any applicant fell short of that requirement, even by an inch, was rejected.

At the final stages of recruitment all applicants were asked to write an essay in English and the topics were chosen by the Director of Training. Marking of essays were done immediately and results announced. The successful candidates were asked to attend a final interview and the cream of the country’s young men from above 20 years of age was selected for training. Senewiratne quotes two applicants who had wanted to join the Police when admission requirements were very stringent.

One had been an inch shorter than the required height and had approached the Director of Training, with a letter from a big wheel to influence the Director, who had instantly requested the applicant to drop it onto the floor, stand on it and to see whether he gained the required inch”¦! On another occasion, an applicant whose chest measurement fell below par had been requested to expand his chest by physical exercises.

A few weeks later when the Director confronted the applicant and asked whether his chest had expanded, the young man had apparently quipped: ” No Sir, the chest has not expanded but other things have””¦..! The Director did not tolerate any nonsense, the author says.

On a general topic of midnight mass on Christmas eve, he expresses his disgust on fashion parades by women, especially those in sari showing their low cut jackets with deep necklines exposing their bustier and turned the religious observation into a fashion parade and nattily dressed men who are intoxicated with liquor and makes a humble appeal not to tarnish the image of Christians and the Church.

“ƒ”¹…”Bombs and Ombs’ consisting 39 interesting occurrences and anecdotes can be read in one breath.

It will especially appeal to those “ƒ”¹…”old school’ type of police officers who were associated with legends, such as, IP Thedias, JSR de Siva, Rahula Silva, Walter Liyange, VCD Batepola, Karawitage Dharmadasa, ACA Gafoor, IP Thavaraja, IP Kumara, Roy Gunawardena etc during Bandula Senewiratne’s time .

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