YAHAPALANA AND THE POLICE
Posted on March 22nd, 2018

KAMALIKA PIERIS

Sri Lanka Police will be made the best in Asia, said Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe in 2016. But that does not seem to be happening. Instead, the Sri Lanka police are going in the opposite direction. They might end up as the worst in Asia.

Yahapalana government   appointed Pujitha Jayasundara as Inspector General of Police (IGP) in April 2016.  Jayasundara said he got the top job because he attended 35 Bodhi poojas, offering water to Bo trees, seeking the appointment. From the very beginning, it was obvious that he was not suited for the position of IGP, said Chandraprema,  in the past, there were no jokers like this holding such a high position.

The IGP was reprimanded for attempting to sing on a public stage during a nationally televised ceremony. Since then, he had stopped singing, reported the amused media. Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, who is the chairman of the Constitutional Council which suggested Jayasundara for the top job, had asked the IGP to stop making a fool of himself.

In February 2017, the IGP had sobbed in front of over 100 senior officers at Police Headquarters saying that he had failed in leadership, reported the   ever delighted media. During his three hour sermon to the senior most officers of the service, Jayasundara said the service had failed because they did not pay much attention to spiritual development. At the end of his emotional confession, the Inspector-General ordered that all police should start the day with 15 minutes of Anapanasati meditation followed by a brief session of maithri bhavana. Regional police heads have now been asked to order all ranks to begin the day in this manner.

Then something entertaining happened. CCTV footage, leaked to the public, showed the IGP shaking a lift operator by the collar and making threatening gestures because the man had failed to join the meditation session at police headquarters, This happened in  October 2017. The leaked video became a sensation on social media   Jayasundara   accused the CID of leaking this video.

In a special circular issued April 2017, the IGP  made it mandatory for  policemen to report for work at 6.00 am and sing the national and police anthems after hoisting national and police flags. Thereafter they have to participate in religious observances. This would be applicable only to those who are in the police station, not those doing routine police work. IGP would assign senior police officers to ensure that the programme is carried out.

The IGP  also engaged in activities which were no laughing matter. In December 2016, IGP Jayasundara was caught on camera taking a telephone call, while attending a public function. During the telephone call, he addressed the caller as ‘sir’ and assured him that a person identified as ‘nilame’ would not be arrested when he was brought in for questioning. This was shown to the public on television news. ‘We have an IGP that suits the government he serves under,’ declared Chandraprema.

The IGP has started spying on his senior officers, said his subordinates. The Police ‘top brass’ including DIGs had met the Police Commission, without the IGP, in December 2017  to complain that telephone  conversations of some 48 senior police officers were being listened to.

Ravi Seneviratne, Senior DIG and head of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) stated that Special Investigation Unit (SIU), had given him a list of telephone numbers to obtain details from the service providers. He found that all the mobile phone numbers in the list belonged to senior Police officers, including himself.

SIU had told him that the call details of the senior Police officers had been sought by the IGP.  The SIU comes directly under the IGP. IGP Jayasundera had also wanted to use a machine gifted to the Police by Australian Federal Police. It extracted information held on mobile phones, including deleted e-mails and location data.

Senior police officers told the Police Commission that the IGP does not speak to them directly, but was trying to listen to their phone conversations and read text messages and e-mails which had nothing to do with police work.

Senior police officers were now scrambling to learn sign language following disclosures that the Inspector General of Police was tapping their phones and snooping on digital communications reported the media. Alternative ways of communication have become an urgent need because of the risk of phone tapping, said a senior officer.

A large number of police completed an Australian-funded six-month sign language course and more were joining the next batch. The course had suddenly become attractive to even the senior Deputy Inspectors of General (SDIGs) who have been targeted by the IGP for telephone surveillance, the media said. Orders could be passed down to the rank and file using sign language to avoid incriminating digital finger prints.

Under Yahapalana the police have emerged in a repressive role never seen before under any other government. The police are emerging as the main force through which Yahapalana demonstrates its power. Police personnel have been issued orders to shoot in instances where Clause 93 and 96 of the Penal Code is violated, the police said at a media briefing. This does not suggest that Police can simply shoot a person. But what it means is that Police can use force required even up to the point of killing a person in such instances. Shooting a person is also included in this clause, said the police.

Yahapalana has faced a series of angry protests and demonstrations ever since it came to power. The police were unfailingly brought in to quell the protests. The protests vary, but the remedy is the same, police battalions, barriers, tear gas, water cannon, protective shields,    and baton charges. Here are some illustrations.

There were three demonstrations in Hambantota against the handing over of the port to China. In the third demonstration in October 2017, Joint Opposition  activists demonstrated before the Indian consulate in Hambantota against the government decision to hand over the Mattala airport to an Indian company. They also opposed the Hambantota port lease agreement with China. At the Indian Consulate, a tense situation arose, which led to clashes between the Police and protesters, reported Daily News.  ‘The Police clashed with hundreds of supporters protesting before the Indian Consulate’ said Island. Police anti-riot squads   used teargas and water cannon to disperse the crowd. Police arrested 26 of the protesters.  Apparently, a mother taking lunch for her children was also arrested.

Those arrested on this occasion were charged with several offences, violating a court order, contempt of court, damaging public property, assembling illegally and disturbing duties of the police officer and assaulting them. Television news showed the Tangalle ASP approaching a journalist who had been arrested and giving him a resounding slap. This was shown over and over again on television news. The assaulted journalist, who had been reporting for   ‘Sunday Apple’, later  complained to Supreme Court. The case is proceeding, reported the media.

Yahapalana government said police intervened only when  the protest turned violent.  Police complained that four policemen were injured when the demonstrators pelted stones. Police vehicles were also damaged. The police added that  they were  scrutinizing the video footage and photographs of the incident to identify others responsible.

‘First, we were attacked by government sponsored thugs. Police did nothing to prevent them. Thereafter, the anti-riot squads were sent in. Many were injured due to tear gas and water cannon attacks,’ said Joint Opposition.  They also said that a toxic chemical harmful to humans may have been added to the water in the water cannons, because those who had been hit by the water cannons had fallen sick.

In February 2017, the police used force to disperse JVP led port workers demonstration, which demanded that the Yahapalana government abandon plans to privatize Colombo, Trincomalee and Hambantota harbors.  The demonstrators refused to call off the protest and the police fired tear gas. Island 2.2.2017. p 2 carries a photograph. In January 2018, CEB employees had a sit in strike in the HQ and took the ChaIrman hostage. Police went in with batons.(Derana news  18.1.18)

A protest march was organized by the Inter University Bhikkus Federation  in April 2017. The Federation was demanding an immediate increase of the university intake this year. The police used tear gas and water canon to disperse the march. The newspapers ran a photograph of a member of the police anti-riot squad grappling with a Buddhist monk at the Lotus Junction.

The most spectacular  anti-SAITM  student demonstration was in May 2017 in Colombo. The demonstrators, who included Inter-University Student Bala Mandalaya and  Medical Students’ Action Committee, defied a court order and tried to march to Presidents House in a very forceful manner.  Police blocked their way but they refused to move and were exposed for half an hour to water cannon. Then, since they still did not disperse, the police baton charged them. The ferocity of the attack   was clearly visible on television news. (E.g. Derana news of 10.10.17). Island ran a half page of photos on this incident. 13 persons were   admitted to hospital for treatment.

The police were also called in to control the protests over garabage dumping. Television news showed police with shields and batons trying to control protestors at the garbage dumps in Oragodawatte and Muturajawela. Garbage protestors blocked the road at  Maligawatta Waste Management Centre at Dompe and police were compelled to use tear gas and water cannon to disperse them.  at Wattala, police assaulted protestors who said they did not want the Colombo garbage.  There were many protestors and it was a prolonged fight . The fight continued even after the garbage trucks  unloaded and went back. Garbage   from Colombo was dumped at Karadiyana under a police guard which included elite police commandos as well as ordinary police. The public objected to the use of police and military to quell protests agisnt the transfer of garbage.

There is public anger towards the police. Six hundred complaints against police have been received by the National Police Commission in the first six months of 2017. In 2016 a total of 1,800 complaints against police had been received by the NPC. Most of the complaints related to policemen not carrying out proper investigations into public complaints, acting partially and assaults, reported the media.

25-year-old Pathiranalage Niroshan, 44 years,  married with one child, was shot and killed by a policeman in Kataragama on January 20 2018. He had been on his way home on a motorbike in the night when police had allegedly flagged him down using a torch. Niroshan’s friend Nuwan Buddhika, who was the pillion rider, had insisted that Niroshan had stopped the motorbike only a few metres away from the spot from where a torchlight had been shone on them. They were just starting to get down from the motorbike when two shots were fired at them, one of which struck Niroshan in the back of the head. He was pronounced dead after being admitted to hospital. The pillion rider was injured.  We saw the whole event on television news.

The incident caused violent protests. People living close to the scene of the shooting started pelting stones at the police personnel present there. A large mob staged a protest march and attacked the police station, damaging vehicles and buildings. The protest continued throughout the day. The police fired tear gas and shot in the air to disperse the protesters. Thereafter police called in STF commandos to bring the situation under control.  We saw this too on television news.

Thirteen women and 45 men were arrested on the charges of obstructing traffic, causing damage to the road, assaulting police officers and causing injury to them, obstructing police duties  and causing damage to police property. The suspects were produced before the Tissamaharama Magistrate on Sunday and released on 200,000 personal bail.They are to report to the Kataragama Police Station every last Sunday, sign the register and ensure that no more violent protests are conducted until the completion of the funeral rites of the deceased. The constable and a civil defence force cadre had been arrested over the shooting incident. The policeman was remanded.

Barely a month later, the body of 20-year-old Nalinda Kasun was found in a Piliyandala canal on February 17. Angry relatives and area residents blamed the Kahathuduwa Police for his death. According to a friend of Kasun, he had allegedly jumped into the canal from a bridge in fear after two policemen in civvies had tried to arrest him. Kasun’s friend was arrested by the police for the possession of drugs.

The arresting officers, however, had allegedly taken the friend to the police station without checking on what happened to Kasun. They had also allegedly failed to report to their OIC or any other senior officer that a second person aside from the one arrested had been present at the time and had jumped into the water. Following public outrage after the discovery of Kasun’s body,  the public invaded the Kahathuduwa police station and protested violently. .  the two officers involved in the incident — a sergeant and a constable — were ordered to be transferred with immediate effect. This order was thereafter revoked and the transfers suspended pending the conclusion of a magisterial inquiry into the incident.

After the Local government elections, a UNP    trishaw driver had been assaulted by a Pohottuwa group at Sapugaskanda, but the police had not taken any action. Television news showed the rrelatives of the driver storming the Sapugaskanda police station and hooting at the police there. The scene was displayed for quite some time on the news.

There is a newly visible  desire  to  curb police excesses. A Fundamental Rights petition  was filed by a toddy tapper.Gamaralalage Siril Kumara of Kitulgala  challenged the activities of Kitulgala police in producing persons who refuse to comply with their demand to provide free toddy, before Courts on illicit liquor offences. The petitioners complained htat  they are then compelled to plead guilty for the possession of illicit liquor and pay penalties ranging from Rs.1,000 to Rs.15,000. The failure to comply with such illegal demands results with further harassment and intimidation by the police officers.

The petitioners stated on July 28, 2017 at around 4.30 pm the 3rd and 4th Respondents arrived at the 1st Petitioner’s residence and took into possession a small quantity of toddy which was lawfully tapped by the first petitioner and claimed that the 1st Petitioner has illegally tapped toddy.They further sought Rs.5 million as compensation from the respondents.

Siril Kumara filed this petition along with two   relatives. He named the OIC of Kithulgala Police Station, two sub inspectors, two sergeants of Kithulgala station and IGP Pujith Jayasundara as respondents. The Supreme Court two-judge-bench comprising Chief Justice Priyasath Dep and Justice Sisira de Abrew refused to grant leave to proceed with the petition, citing that there is no legal basis to proceed with the petition.

Disabled police officers held a protest in Pettah in January 2018, demanding that the government restore their allowances. There is nothing to indicate that Yahapalana took notice of the protest. But pet doggies of police bigwigs are getting royal treatment. Here is a story of how one from the canine breed has been enjoying special privileges like his boss, a top cop in the south, reported the media in March 2018.

One of the staffers was asked to remove ticks off the dog and groom it for a birthday party in the top cop’s office. The party took place in the official premises. Every now and then, the same staffer is asked to take the dog for a sea bath. Three other Police officers have been assigned to accompany the dog in official vehicles. That is to ensure the pet does not stray away. If we went for a sea bath in an official vehicle, we would be charge sheeted, declared the cops. The staffer has now complained to the Inspector General of Police, the Police Commission, and the Ombudsman in Parliament. It’s a dog’s life for him, he says. A senior officer at Police Headquarters confirmed that an investigation was under way.

2 Responses to “YAHAPALANA AND THE POLICE”

  1. Christie Says:

    The police in our country is Indian Colonial Parasites from the start.

    Like other administrations in former British Indian Colonies the Indian Colonial Parasites were the real administrators.

    The tradition had not changed except for a few periods here and there.

    As soon as this government was installed by India the head of the Police Commission was an Indian appointee.

    Ask Café for explanations?

  2. Ancient Sinhalaya Says:

    Yama Paalanaya police is for implementing law and order for the Sinhalese. Tamils and mussies are allowed to
    do what they like. It is not a problem at all for the traitor YAMA PALLAN. The law applies to Sinhalese only in
    Sri Lanka under the Yama Paalanaya headed by the traitor chief die hard catholic token Buddhist Bay Gal Karaya
    Mega Thief Mega Thakkadiya Walking Crime Bomb with the timer set for 10-20 years (could be 0 years if Mother
    Lanka is lucky to get rid of the pathala man PM if the NCM works out) Batalande Wandakaya Pol Pot [email protected]
    wickrama Sinhala killer while puppet the rubber stamp vaira pala nari sena looking on helplessly.

    Any thing to
    destroy Buddhism, Sri Lanka and the Sinhalese race gets the full blessing of the portuguese national Batalande
    Wandakaya. So Yama Paalana police is rampant against the Sinhalese while in front of the two foreigner racists tribes tamils and mussies they are really really impotent. Any protest by the Sinhalese get the brutal repression by the police and tamils and mussies get a slap on their wrists. Still a lot of traitor Sinhala modayas support these anti
    Sinhalese, anti Buddhist, anti Sri Lankan traitor catholic run UNPatrioticrats thinking it is so fashionable to support
    the thieving, murderous (Sinhalese only) monsters. Yama palana police is the tool the traitor YAMA PALAN use to get the job done. Batalande Wadakaya is the YAMA PALLA IN CHIEF with a lot of experience in torture and murdering Sinhalese youth.

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