KILLING OF UNDERGRADS : A REPLY TO UNIVERSITY TEACHERS
Posted on November 2nd, 2016

Gamini Gunawardane 

I refer to the letter by a group of University dons under the title Killing of Undergrads Must be Condemned” that appeared in ‘The Island” of 29th October.

Death is undoubtedly sad occurrence. But it does happen. When it occurs due to police shooting, it is really serious. When the victims happen to be young students it certainly is a matter for serious concern and general condemnation is natural. Hence the consternation is understandable.

For this reason, the police establishment has acted swiftly, had the culprits arrested and remanded and moved the CID to investigate before the President and the Prime Minister could issue orders to the police top brass to do so, because it is the standard police procedure. Though there may be justifiable doubts whether the police themselves could do an impartial investigation on their own men, particularly in a highly charged situation, there is no better investigational arm in this country other than the CID. The CID has already established its credibility when it successfully did an investigation recently against one of its own DIGs and obtained a conviction of murder against him.  Hence mpartial action against leser minions is a greater possibility.

Having said all that, let us acknowledge that killings by police shooting happens not only in this country, but elsewhere in the world too especially in the US and UK who advocate strict observance of Human Rights by other countries but not by themselves. Of course that does not mean that Sri Lanka police should follow their example.

In assessing what happened in Jaffna let us appreciate the fact that the police there are working not under normal conditions but under pressure where the environment is highly chraged in the context of the racist politicians doing their utmost to rouse the people into racism. As pointed out by the academics, as much as Jaffna and the rest of the North and East are just emerging out of a protracted war where its people have faced untold suffering and loss,” the police in these provinces too have suffered the same aberrations and trauma losing so many lives and limbs of their comrades and hostility during the past30 years. They are not made of steel but of flesh, blood and nerves.

It was night time when the shooting had occurred at two motor cycle riders who were riding away ignoring signals to stop. Police were in tension as they were on the lookout for armed gangs who were on the rampage robbing and intimidating many innocent people raping the widowed and young women. Thus the question at issue is whether opening fire at them is justifiable or not.

The late Snr. DIG Leo Perera when he was an SP, once remarked that, when an ‘O’ level passed constable (we are told that many of our Legislators do not even have that qualification!)  makes a split second decision to open fire, a Judge seated under a fan, surrounded by the Law books and New Law Reports, assisted by a team of legal luminaries decides after argument and due deliberation, whether the killing was justified or whether the constable used excessive force under the circumstances! Such is the irony of the situation which may not be within the grasp of our University intellectuals.

Thus, rather than rushing to issue highbrow condemnatory statements in such situations, it behoves the people such as the University Academics endowed with such vast knowledge, lend their knowledge and competence to improve the condition of the police which may be a positive gesture to prevent or reduce such tragedies as the case at hand. We should really be working together to make our police to become a better police service. . For. it is ou police Nobody else will do it for us. We will be its direct beneficaeries. In fact, in the past we have had the benefit of such assistance from the University fraternity who worked with us towards that goal. It was really a matter of mutual leaning. I recall the Late Prof. Nandasena Ratnapala who worked with us indefatigably to improve the mindset of the police, to rise out of being a Colonial relict. The Police Department printed one of his books and circulated it among all ranks. We also ha hand Prof. Sarath Wijesuriya lending his hand at changing the attitudes of police officers. We also had other non- academic intellectuals and professionals working with us in this direction. Looking through the signatories to this statement, I do not recall among them any academics who had worked with the police to bring out such positive results.

In regard to sentiments aexpressed by the University Academics on the plight of the two University students who were killed inJaffna, it sruck me that they did not express the same concern for the Students of the South, who were assaulted by their fellow students in the Jaffna University who had refused to go back to that University in fear of further harrassment. They were some thousand odd and the Acdemics and the students there do not sem to consider that University as a National University but a provincial University in the North. Does not that cause some worry to these learned men?

These University dons have also noted with great sadness, all university students who had been put to death in the past. They however do not seem to be much concerned with the thousands of Tamil children who were conscripted into the battle ranks by the LTTE and met with their death. Also they do not seem to condemn the LTTE for the rape of young women cadres in the bunkers used as ‘Comfort Corp’ of the Terrorists. Also they do not seem to be sad about the wanton killing of their own Academics such as Dr. Rajini Thiranagama by the LTTE. They do not seem to have any concern for the many police officers who died in their attempt to ensure a peaceful environment for the University Academics and others to live and to carry on their academic work. There wasn’t a whimper from them when, 600 policemen who were ordered by the government to surrender, were made to dig their own graves and were shot dead and buried by the LTTE IN 1990. Such were the sacrifices made by police for the sake of ushering peace for this country.

Since these Academics have very justifiably expressed their grave sadness at the killing of so many students in the past, I would also invite them to do their mite to wipe out the most uncivilized Ragging from their Universities where several students committed suicide and left the campuses unable to bear the cruelty of fellow seniors, under their nose.

Gamini Gunawardane 

One Response to “ KILLING OF UNDERGRADS : A REPLY TO UNIVERSITY TEACHERS”

  1. S.Gonsal Says:

    යුද හමුදා බුද්ධි ප්‍රධානියා ඉවතට නව බුද්ධි ප්‍රධානි බ්‍රිගේඩියර් විඡේන්ද්‍ර ගුණතිලක

    සමන් ගමගේ

    යුද හමුදා සන්නද්ධ බුද්ධි බළකායේ ප්‍රධානී බ්‍රිගේඩියර් සුරේෂ් සලේ වහාම ක්‍රියාත්මක වන පරිදි ඊයේ (2දා) දහවල් එම තනතුරින් ඉවත් කර තිබේ. ඔහු වෙනුවට සන්නද්ධ බුද්ධි බළකායේ ප්‍රධානියා ලෙස යුද හමුදා සිංහ රෙජිමේන්තුවේ නිලධාරියකු වන බ්‍රිගේඩියර් විඡේන්ද්‍ර ගුණතිලක මහතා පත් කිරීමට කටයුතු කර ඇත.

    තනතුරින් ඉවත් කෙරුණු සුරේෂ් සලේ මහතා යුද හමුදා සන්නද්ධ බුද්ධි බළකා රෙජිමේන්තු මධ්‍යස්‌ථානයට අනුයුක්‌ත කර තිබෙන බව හමුදා ආරංචි මාර්ග සඳහන් කරයි.

    කොටි හිතවාදී දෙමළ ඩයස්‌පෝරාව මෙන්ම මෙරට සිවිල් සංවිධාන හා දෙමළ දේශපාලනඥයෝ විසින් බ්‍රිගේඩියර් සුරේෂ් සලේ මහතා බුද්ධි ප්‍රධානී තනතුරින් ඉවත් කළ යුතු බවට පසුගිය කාලයේ විශාල හඬක්‌ නගනු ලැබූහ.

    එක්‌නැලිගොඩ සිද්ධිය සම්බන්ධයෙන් රහස්‌ පොලිසිය සිදු කරනු ලබන විමර්ශනවලට අනුව බ්‍රිගේඩියර් සුරේෂ් සලේව පසුගිය දිනවල අවස්‌ථා කිහිපයකදී අධිකරණය වෙතද කැඳවනු ලැබීය.

    සුරේෂ් සලේ මහතා බුද්ධි ප්‍රධානී තනතුරෙන් ඉවත් කිරීම පිළිබඳ හමුදා ප්‍රකාශක බ්‍රිගේඩියර් රොෂාන් සෙනෙවිරත්නගෙන් කළ විමසීමකදී යුද හමුදාවේ සාමාන්‍ය තනතුරු මාරු කිරීම් අනුව බ්‍රිගේඩියර් සුරේෂ් සලේ ඉවත් කර එම තනතුරට බ්‍රිගේඩියර් විඡේන්ද්‍ර ගුණතිලක පත් කළ බව සඳහන් කළේය.

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