A DIG, A CONTRACT KILLER?!
Posted on July 7th, 2013

Gamini Gunawardane  Rtd. Snr. DIG 

This indeed is the question raised by many an ordinary law aiding citizen, in disbelief. The issue has shaken the very foundation of the belief system of a decent society. Therefore, I think it behoves closer examination without trying to hide away from this glaring issue. Hence, let us address this task.

Let us first deal with the positive side . ” Positive side “? “ƒ”¹…”You must be out of your mind Mr. Ex. Snr. DIG! Is senile decay setting in, on you?’ You might ask. No, there IS a positive here, just look at this.

It is true that this allegation of a dastardly act on the part of the Police Department is directed against a DIG and some senior officers. (“Ah, “Et too Brute!” Are you also trying to white wash him Mr. G?”) No I am not. I am on a different point.

True enough, the Police Department has disgraced itself  by the mere fact that such an allegation has ever been directed at a very senior police officer. It has seriously damaged its credibility, if it had any! It has made the law aiding citizens come out of the cocoons of their comfort zones and become despondent. Yet I say there is still a silver lining in this dark cloud, at least for the present.

My point is, in spite of all this dark side, it is another arm of the same Sri Lanka Police, the CID,  that investigated this case thoroughly and professionally against their own brother officers, arrested them, produced them in courts and had them remanded, just like in any other case. They say “ƒ”¹…”blood is thicker than water’. In police jargon, “ƒ”¹…”police blood runs deep’. So is mine, even after retirement!  But still they did it, for the sake of law and order in this country, to restore the good name and reputation of the Police, if there is any left. Having been a proud member of the CID at one time, I doff my hat to the present CID that it has maintained its hallowed tradition, even in these tumultuous conditions.  Doing these things in our time when Rule of Law prevailed, it would have been more or less routine. Yet today, under the prevailing threat to professional integrity, life & safety of the investigating officers and even to their career progression, this achievement to my mind, is truly remarkable. We still do not know whether, even if the CID successfully concludes this inquiry, whether it would get past the Attorney General who is now under the thumb of the President under the prevailing circumstances. And whether it would end in a successful conviction is yet another variability knowing the state of the Judiciary at present in this country. (But let us also not forget that there was a time under another Presidency, when certain acts of accused unknown murders occured in this country, a suspect turns up at the police station with the weapon and admits having committed the offence. He pleads guilty in courts and goes to jail too! We have not come to that pass yet, thank goodness.)

But my major point is, talking of professional integrity, in what other profession in the public or private sectors in this country, will the brother officers investigate impartially, particularly against a senior officer and take action against him? We know that it does not happen in the medical profession where so many people die in hospitals due to deliberate medical negligence. It is the same in the engineering profession, unless there is a personal animosity. In regard to the legal profession, I still recall what late Felix Dias Bandaranaike said, while discussing a criminal case against a leading legal luminary, where the AG had pronounced unfairly, that there was no adequate evidence against the lawyer to be charged. FDB told me, “Look here my friend, dog does not eat dog!”

This is why the work of the Police, particularly the CID in this case is admirable.

This also goes to show that the Police Department is still not dead, though it is on the death bed in the throes of death, under the present adverse climate. Given the change of environment and a dose of oxygen it needs, it can still rise up to be a healthy organization, to serve the people well. It is the people who must pressure the government and the politicians to give that space to the police to develop as a healthy law enforcement agency. Of course we know that in their mental make-up, the politicians on both sides of the divide, would not want to commit “ƒ”¹…”Hrakiri’! 

My second positive is this. I read recently, in a letter on the Opinion Page of “ƒ”¹…”The Island’ newspaper where Mr. Izeth Hussain had said referring to an incident of  Police inaction, something to the effect, “ƒ”¹…”rule of law is not a right for the Muslims’. In the case under our discussion it would appear that facts indicate the contrary. The deceased is a Muslim and the main suspect too is a Muslim besides a very politically powerful Senior Police Officer and other senior officers being among the suspects against whom the due process of law appears to have taken place irrespective of the fact of whatever community they belonged. Thus, this perhaps is a perception or a misperception of the minorities. Of course, both these incidents are not adequate instances to generalize. What all such opinion makers do not seem to realize is that Rule of Law in fact is “ƒ”¹…”not a right for the Muslims’ or Tamils only, but for the entire community in this country. They can only see it from their narrow communalist perspective, when they wear communal dark glasses. When it came to DIG Latiff, a Malay officer who earned the wrath of the Uva Province politicians for doing his job properly, nobody bothered as to which community he belonged. All law abiding people joined together in their admiration for his daring. There were appreciations from all over. In the social media, there were even songs composed in his praise. It was the same with Murali. He just became “ƒ”¹…”Ape Murali’. Thus, communal perspective seems to be a problem with some people with jaundiced eyes.             

Sorry for the deviation. Now to the main problem. How can this be? He is only the symptom of the larger disease that the Police department is plagued with.  There are many questions to be asked. How did this man become a DIG? How did he become an SSP, an SP or an ASP for that matter? Did he not display any early signs of such propensities? Were genuine Personnel Appraisals done on him at these levels? It is well known that he and his family figured in an unseemly incident of abuse of position in that incident at Malabe when he was an SSP. How did he extricate himself form that situation?  Who helped him there? How is it that such aberrations in his personality did not come to be looked at when he was considered for promotion to the all important rank of DIG? Who looked after him through all these troubles and tribulations? Thus, it would appear that many supervising officers, his DIGs and IG himself  and, those who are above him  too may be held responsible for his alleged criminal behavior and display of an aberrated personality  at this level. Unfortunately accountability is no longer a Management principle operating in this country at any level. So, all those officers responsible will get away with their neglect of duty, with no questions asked or answered. Incompetency will flourish

Besides all this, there are some fundamental Managerial & structural problems in the Police organization structure itself. There are DIGs dime a dozen, in the Police today.  Are all these necessary for the efficient running of the Police Department? The government seems to think that by posting a DIG all over the country all problems of police administration and crime control could be achieved as if a DIG was a Superman.  They are now posted in areas smaller than that of an SP of earlier days. This is done at great financial and logistical cost. There is also a multiplicity of SPs and ASPs doing all kinds of odd jobs. All this is done owing to the non-application of the elementary Management principle of, Span of Control.

It also goes against the Managerial principle of a “ƒ”¹…”lean and hungry’ organization structure. This is now a flabby organization, slow and sluggish in its movement, unable to respond to situations quickly& efficiently.  A kind of “ƒ”¹…”Oluwa lokui, Bada mahathai, Kehethage apalay!

 Of late, the Senior DIGs who form the Top Management team of the IGP too are multiplied and are posted to the provinces, to the forward headquarters. He sits over and above the local DIG in the provincial capital. He is thus drawn towards the ambit of the sphere of activity of the DIG, as the most senior officer present. He is thus compelled to encroach on the work of his DIG. Similarly, the DIG is drawn to do the some of the work of the SSP. The SSP in turn is led to do some of the work of the ASPs.

And the ASP is very often seen doing the work of the OIC. Thereby, the supervisory function at each level suffers. The OIC in the meantime has not much work to do other than to be present at the many occasions of a VIPs who visits his area. In view of the political character and also owing to the security concerns, the entire local hierarchy tend to be present, mainly to be seen by the VIP. For, this is a two way street! Anyhow, the net-result is that, the OIC has not much time to supervise his men or look at his records or do any court work. The snowballing effect is that most senior officers are found to be immersed in office work, working late into the night, mostly doing their subordinates’ work. As a result of the senior officers doing the work of their subordinates, the subordinates miss the opportunity of acquiring the necessary skill, experience and maturity at their different rank levels. Hence, as they go up the ladder, they possess less and less experience both to manage their jobs and to give appropriate directions to their subordinates. They also do not have sufficient confidence in the subordinate to discharge his own responsibility. So superiors themselves do the work of the subordinates to ensure that there is no slip up. This is because, the responsibility of getting the job done falls ultimately on the senior officer. So, to be sure, he does the subordinate’s job himself! Thus, the subordinate never learns. The situation thus keeps on deteriorating in a counter snowballing effect. The senior officers on otherhand, have no time to pay attention to detail or to do any creative work in their higher capacity, beyond performing their routine tasks. The norm is, to get by each day. Neither the officer nor the subordinate is tested or held accountable. So no improvement nor deeper levels of supervision.  

Consequently, the officer levels lose the opportunity to develop their managerial and interpersonal skills though they may acquire the technical skills required for their survival. Thus, there is lacuna in the officering skills at the officer levels. This is the complaint of many subordinates, of their superiors.

In these circumstances, mediocrites have a field day. Of course, to facilitate their upward mobility and protection for their incompetence, one needs the “ƒ”¹…”political clout’, for, efficiency is not the criterion. Hence, out of necessity, they develop skills of “ƒ”¹…”politician management’ as against Personnel management etc. The circumstances that led to the fall of IGP Balasuriya was clearly the cumulative effect of all this, a systems collapse.  

This would only partly answer the question raised at the beginning of this essay. That is not all. As a result of all these incompetancies and, several other factors, crime increases exponentially, Under World multiplies and vices become an industry nourished by wide-spread corruption. It is indeed unfortunate that the government does not understand that there are no short cuts to restore Rule of Law. That cannot be achieved by physically eliminating criminals or by placing favorites in charge of key positions and manipulating them individually, to take short cuts that are politically advantageous. All such wrong policies result in turning those selected officers, both police and military, into criminals in uniform. The present case is the result of such mis-governance.

Besides this, owing to the devolution of power at Provincial and District levels, with the power falling into the hands of local criminals and one time Drug and Kassippu dealers, they are running berserk at the grass root levels creating havoc. The latest is the incident of forcing a school teacher to kneel down in her class, and a Pradesheeya Sabha man’s son chasing after his principal to stab him, another Chairman of a P/ Sabha assaulting a Policeman in Embilipitiya.  The list is endless. True, the Provincial Councillor who punished the lady school teacher was removed forth with. One wonders whether this would have happened if the NWP Council elections were not close at hand.  All this is only different aspects of the symptoms of the same disease I mentioned earlier  – lawlessness or technically put, – absence of Rule of Law. As said before, there are no short cuts to restore Rule of Law. It could be only achieved through restoring the independence of the Criminal Justice System “”…” the Police, AG’s Department, Judiciary and Prisons. Will they?!    

I hate to say this. But one day, this alone may pave the way for the downfall of the government.                

One Response to “A DIG, A CONTRACT KILLER?!”

  1. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    DEAR RTD D.I.G GAMINI,

    With great deference, what your conclusion is a great prediction of ” coming events are casting their shadows. ”

    I see in the Media, CABINET MINISTER’S BROTHER TO BE RELEASED DUE TO PRESSURE FROM ABOVE. When I read the article, it is a clear indication of Political Rascals, interefering with the Police, and not allowing them to apply the rule of Law, on a daily basis. They make the Police Officers look like clowns.

    Now this is the brother of a Cabinet Minister. The Media people are themselves invertibrates, that they are so scared to mention the name of the Cabinet Minister or his brother. MUFFLED MEDIA~~DISGRACE.

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