Police powers under the 13th Amendment: A rare example
Posted on February 15th, 2012

by C. Wijeyawickrema

Leo Perera’s summary essay “ƒ”¹…”The 13th Amendment to the Constitution “”…”””…” Devolution of Public Order and exercise of Police powers “”…”””…” Indo-Lanka Accord has no such requirement’ (The Island News paper, 6/10/2009) explaining (1) the conflict between 13-A and 17-A, and (2) the failed past attempts during the colonial times (1892-1905) to implement police powers by Government Agents at the Province-level, is a significant contribution especially due to three new developments we see today. These developments indicate that Tamil separatism is buried and not dead. The lucrative, many-faceted international network created by Prabakaran is rapidly raising its head again ironically, blaming the dead man for his undemocratic (inhuman?) acts!

All three developments are linked to the 13-A or a 13-A plus formula, which will open the path for Eelam by devolution sooner or later. (1) UN-SG Ban Ki-Moon as well as some Indian politicians tries to “pin” President Rajapaksa to a “promise” they say he made to them before the end of the war. The hint is that he will agree to Tamil group rights in a homeland, which was the apparent goal behind the 13-A passed in 1987. (2) Suresh Premachandran of the TNA now in crisis makes an interesting proposition, which is: “Give rule of our province to us in a unitary state” (Lanka-e-News, 6/14/2009). He thinks replacing the words United Sri Lanka by Unitary Sri Lanka would cure all the worries of the majority people in the island against the 13-A! (3) The plan to have an Eelam government in exile by those who inherited Prabakaran’s international dowry (all kinds of business enterprises including drug manufacture, drug trafficking, gun running and money laundering) will be a pain in the neck for the IDP Tamils, village Tamils and the GOSL.

 As Leo Perera explained (1) the legal jargon in 13-A (1987) completely politicised the Provincial police and (2) the legal jargon in 17-A, expected to depoliticise the Police Force. What kind of mad politics was this? To quote Leo Perera:

“Under 13-A, the DIG of the Province was the Chief Minister’s nominee, with the DIG, the Chief Minister had two nominees in the three-member Provincial Police Commission, and the DIG was responsible to and under the control of the Chief Minister in the maintenance and the exercise of police powers in the Province. It removed all the powers the President had in respect of the Police Force at the national level and the powers the President had under the 13th Amendment at provincial levels. But it failed to completely depoliticise the Police Force at the provincial level.

 The 17th Amendment (2001) did not amend Appendix I item 4 (of 13-A) which provided for a nominee of the Chief Minister to be in the Provincial Police Commission, item 6 which required the IGP to appoint the DIG of the Province with the concurrence

of the Chief Minister, and, item 11:1 which made it mandatory for the DIG of the Province to be responsible to and under the control of the Chief Minister in respect of the maintenance of public order and the exercise of police powers in the Province. It is submitted that it is a very serious anomaly to depoliticise the Police at the national level and to keep the Police politicised at the provincial level as practical police work is done at provincial levels and in that respect the 17th Amendment was an amateurish exercise in depoliticising the Police Force.”

 India and Europe

Nehru did not like the idea of language-based state boundary demarcation. In 1956, he agreed to it reluctantly, when a Telegu politician began a fast unto death! The treacherous two””…”India (two-nation) plan of the colonial master in India received official recognition with the 1935 Government of India Act, and from then onward the communal cancer could not be stopped. Ali Jinnah had the nerve to tell Gandhi, “Mr. Gandhi, you worship the cow and we eat the cow, how can we be friends?”

But because India is a sub-continent as big as the Western Europe, one can argue that language-based regions were unavoidable. It is like German, French and Italian language regions in Europe. On top of that was the fact that Hindi was a newer language compared to Tamil, Telegu or Bengali. Hindi was spoken between 30-40% Indians when it was made the official language in 1949 with a majority of just one vote. Therefore, 13-A cannot be justified in Sri Lanka applying the standards of Indian politics or Indian geography to a tiny island.

 Hindia and Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu was the only state which had a set of politicians with an inferiority complex in accepting Hindi as the Indian official language. Gandhi used to ridicule Tamil politicians for not learning Hindi. It was also the only region which asked the colonial master to create a separate country for them (a Dravidastan). Under the Indian “F” system, education, land and police powers are state functions. The implementation of a unifying language policy (Hindi was made the official language for unifying the country under one language and not to kill other languages) by teaching Hindi in schools was prevented for some time by Tamil Nadu politicians because the state controlled education.

 Tamil Nad police and IPKF

Quoted below is a rare example of how a hostile provincial police can sabotage a larger national plan, whether the plan is reasonable or not. One can imagine how grave the situation will become in the case of Sri Lanka considering the fact that there will always be separatist-minded Tamil elements in Colombo, Killinochchi, and Tamil Nadu, helped with the money from the LTTE government in exile. There will also be a set of white politicians from the UK, the EU, Norway, Canada and the US helping them separately, jointly or using UN agencies as a veil. These politicians are not Mother Theresas overflowing with humanitarian love for the Tamil IDps but scheming persons who want to tap the Tamil block vote to win their local elections. Humiliation they are now suffering at the hands of the Sri Lankan government by way of deportation etc. would therefore not stop their political behaviour.

 “”¦The decision to wage a war against the LTTE was not an easy one for Rajiv Gandhi. Nor was he oblivious to the cruel irony in being forced to crush the very elements he and Indira had nurtured with care and money”¦Rajiv could abandon neither the Tamils nor could he support its chief representative, i. e. the LTTE”¦

“¦Confrontation with the LTTE had followed from the need to maintain relational control and to restore balance of forces between the various actors in Indo-Lanka relations. That the balance was in danger is clear from the account of the IPKF operations by Field Commander Sardeshpande:

“ƒ”¹…”We gathered credible intelligence through smugglers, boatmen”¦ about exact bungalows, lanes, hospitals, beds, towns, cities and helpers of the LTTE cadres, convalescing Tigers, gunrunners and manufacturers of explosive devices and grenades and gave it to the Tamil Nadu police, only to be told that there were no such individuals and no such activities! We told them that the LTTE cadres after enjoying India’s shelter and medical treatment were returning to Sri Lanka and killing IPKF soldiers”¦ All this made no impression on the Tamil Nadu government and the police”¦.This was the tragicomedy played out on our own country.’

 “¦Facing an impasse in Tamil Nadu and fearing its deleterious impact on the IPKF role in Sri Lanka, the Central Government on January 1988 imposed President’s Rule in the state.”

From Ethnicity, security and separatism in India by Maya Chadda, 1997, p. 169

What Sri Lanka needs is not language-based spatial units with Tamil police stations in the south. Belgium, Northern Ireland and Scotland are all examples of how language or religion-based arrangements will not work even after 100 years of experimenting. In theUS 13 colonies did not join together using language units. German was going to be the official language of the US! Now in the Mexican border regions, with larger concentrations of Hispanic-speaking people, the old debate of making English the official language in USA has renewed. Whether students should be taught in English or it should be bi-lingual is the new issue due to the requirement that schools must show results of student learning under the No Child Left Behind Law passed in 2001.

In 1983, in Sri Lanka, the IGP, all the DIGs and the Attorney General were all Tamils. Tamil terrorists threw CID Inspector Bastianpillai into an abandoned well. He behaved as a police officer and not as a Tamil. Similarly, what Sri Lanka should do is not 13-A or 13-A plus, but recruit and train Tamil police officers on a national basis and employ them all over the island. When both Sinhala and Tamil police officers know both Sinhala and Tamil they will become real peace officers. Why is this so difficult an idea for the Colombo crowd to understand is puzzling? When Anton Balasingham agreed to a federal solution giving up Eelam at the 2002 Oslo meeting, the then GOSL and its NGO agents celebrated it as a golden opportunity and a paradigm shift in Prabakaran’s thinking. Maybe characters with this kind of self-imposed foolishness are still lurking in the dark in some ministry corridors in Colombo.

4 Responses to “Police powers under the 13th Amendment: A rare example”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    Police officers to become peace officers!

    This will never happen. NOT happened ANYWHERE in the world. SL police includes CID, STF, CCD and other barnches too. It comes under the ministry of defence just like armed forces.

    GOSL is doing everything it can to lure Tamils to join the police. There are many Tamil police officers. People go to the police when they have a dispute not otherwise. Often people get more furstrated going to police than otherwise. TNA and its voters will NEVER change. They will throw good police officers into wells and get the bad cop into their side.

    After all Nadesan was also a SL Tamil police officer who spkoe both Sinhala and Tamil! And he was LTTE’s peace officer after that Chelva was killed in an air strike.

  2. Lorenzo Says:

    IPKF did nothing in SL other than producing suicide bombers for LTTE. Killed some LTTE-opposing civilians.

    They were preventing SLDFs wiping out Tigers. That’s all. Imagine what JULY 1987 VICTORIOUS SLDFs could have done to tigers in 1987, 1988 and 1989 election years. IPKF saved tigers from that.

    Did they ever try to kill VP, Chelva, Bala, Mahattaya, Karuna, Pottu or any other LTTE leader? NEVER!

    Did they go to LTTE’s 1-4 base or close? NO.

    Did they gain any more land than we had on 28 July 1987? NO!

    VP was fooled by someone to bump off Rajiv and the uneducated fool did it. Nothing happened to VP though.

  3. desh Says:

    Police powers should never be given to provinces!
    13A should never happen!
    If it happens, the political leaders of Lanka are fools!

  4. Fran Diaz Says:

    Sri Lanka authorities have enough knowledge of what has gone on in the Tamil leadership thinking to put Laws in place to change the situation. Strict laws must be put in place regarding Separatism and severe penalties imposed for breaking such laws.
    Also, an Oath of Allegiance for all Lankans a must.

    Lanka is a victim of Tamil Separatist ideas coming from Tamil Nadu ever since the 1920’s. Tamil Separatism is a method TN leaders have devised to prevent dissent and Caste Wars in Tamil Nadu. Basically, Sri Lanka is being used as a Distraction and as a battering ram all at the same time, to keep Tamil Nadu intact.

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