Assaulting pickpockets
Posted on March 31st, 2017

Dushy Ranetunge Courtesy The Island

An alleged pickpocket was mercilessly assaulted at the EXPO railway counter 17 at Fort Railway Station on Wednesday (29th March) morning at 6 a.m. A queue had formed in front of the counter, and no sooner had it opened at 6am, there was a commotion at the back of the queue. A tall man who was in the EXPO train queue was repeatedly assaulting a much smaller poorly dressed man, who was pleading for mercy. He was being accused of attempting to pickpocket the taller man.

Railway officers from behind the ticket counter clad in white, as well as two railway security officers clad in policeman like khaki attire, dragged the man behind the counter into a room and he was being continually assaulted, mainly by the alleged victim of the attempted pickpocketing.

My wife was visibly distraught seeing the man pleading for mercy and being assaulted. At this point I entered the room and called out to the officers to put a stop to the assaulting. The white clad railway officers from behind the counter seem to justify the assaulting, telling me that he was a pickpocket.

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I said “that’s fine, but hand him to the police, as assaulting him is a greater crime, than alleged attempted pick pocketing.” With that he was dragged away out of my sight; presumably to the police post at the Fort Railway Station.

A few minutes later we spoke to several other Railway Security Officers clad in khaki and they too justified assaulting those accused of pickpocketing. When we pointed out that assaulting a man accused of pickpocketing is a greater crime, and that the pickpocket should be handed to the police to deal with, we were told that the Police Post at Fort Railway Station is a waste of time, and that the OIC at the Fort Police Station had said so himself.

They alleged that the OIC at Fort Police had suggested that the Railway Security are more effective and encouraged them to deal with those alleged pickpockets themselves, presumably by assaulting them, circumventing the justice system which was presented as being ineffective.

They suggested that the man arrested that morning was a famous pickpocket, who had been locked up several times before for pickpocketing, and a noted criminal. If this was so, then the system of justice is failing him, as he is allegedly reoffending frequently. The pickpocket was identified as “Badulle ……… ”

We visited the Police Post at the Fort Railway Station, but the police officer on duty was unaware of the incident, or that someone had been dragged away by Railway Security Officers accused of pickpocketing.

Human rights activists have long accused Sri Lanka of having a culture of impunity in law enforcement and routine torture in police custody. This culture of impunity and lack of accountability has clearly spread to the Railway Security Guards as well, as it seems more a general attitude in society, where they seem to think that assaulting alleged criminals is acceptable and justifiable.

It was sad to see that none of the Railway Officials or Railway Security Guards intervened to stop the assault, but participated in it, by their non action.

For a nation trying to attract more tourists, such attitudes are not helpful, especially when it happens in the EXPO train railway counter used by tourists.

As we returned to the platform to board the EXPO train to Kandy, a public TV was broadcasting morning chanting of Pirith and the Dhamma, in this land which claims to follow the teachings of the Buddha.

Dushy Ranetunge

4 Responses to “Assaulting pickpockets”

  1. aloy Says:

    Dushy,
    Perhaps a waterboarding in western style to get names of all pickpockets in the area would have been more appropriate and to the liking of human right vultures.

  2. Christie Says:

    I am sure Badulle is a Sinhalese. That tells the plight of the Sinhalese.

  3. NAK Says:

    A couple of years back Dushy would have definitely blamed MR for such an incident!

  4. NAK Says:

    By the way what are you doing in a byya web?

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