17th January 1999
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One of the wisest men in the violence-hit Wayamba
must be this fisherman from Hiripitiya in Hiriyala.
As tension rises and politicians hammer each other on both
sides of the battlefield, the fisherman takes the time tested
middle path. He has a blue flag to sell fish to PA supporters,
a green flag for UNPers and a red one for the left.
Pic. by Gemunu Wellage.
Senior DIG Kotakadeniya says some inspectors, ASPs linked to crooks and underworld
By Frederica JanszRapidly escalating violent crime — murder and rape — is the result of "poor policing" and the situation is getting beyond control, a senior police officer warned yesterday.
"Even Inspectors and Assistant Superintendents of Police were working in cahoots with organised gangs," Senior Deputy Inspector General H.M.G.B. Kotakadeniya told The Sunday Times.
DIG Kotakadeniya, one of the most experienced crime fighters, is the Senior DIG in charge of crimes and criminal intelligence at Police Headquarters.
He said that the "spate of crime" had caused serious concern to President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga and she had directed the Police to immediately formulate "an action plan" to tackle escalating crime. "She is absolutely worried," DIG Kotakadeniya emphasised.
Defence Ministry officials are also studying the sudden spurt in violent crimes to identify the major contributory factors.
One high-ranking source said a substantial Police strength was withdrawn from police stations after the launch of "Operation Jaya Sikurui" (Victory Assured). Although the operation itself has been called off, the Police strength is utilised together with the security forces to hold land that has been re-captured.
Coupled together with this problem, the source explained, were deployment of police strength for counter- terrorism related tasks.
Supporting DIG Kotakadeniya's revelations was a retired Inspector General of Police who spoke to The Sunday Times on grounds of anonymity.
"Police collusion is the key to the disturbingly increasing rate of violent crime," the former IGP said. He said contributing to this was the "high level" of corruption in the police force. "It appears that there is scant respect for law and order today. It is a question of deterrence. The punishment for crime now borders on leniency," he said.
The former Police Chief added: "Police seem to be failing in their primary duty of protecting the law abiding citizens."
Asked whether increasing political pressure prevented the police from carrying out their duties, he said "influence has been brought to bear on the Police at all times. This is something one can expect. But that is no excuse for an officer-in-charge of a police station to neglect his duty."
Some city police officers who did not want to be named disclosed that pressure from Parliamentarians to release criminals was often a problem. But DIG Kotakadeniya dismissed the claim and declared "it is not the duty of any police officer to bow to political pressure. Politicians are servants of the people."
It was only last year that President Kumaratunga ordered the Police Department to transfer a large number of OICs and other officers from Police Divisions after reports that they received large payments from underworld gangs, drug pedlars and criminal groups.
A police source said complaints of corrupt activity, particularly in
the city and immediate suburbs, were still rampant despite the transfers.
"Unless continued checks are carried out and punishment meted out, Colombo
and suburbs will become like what Chicago was in the years past," the source
By Chris KamalendranIn the first fatal incident of election violence, a UNP youth-front member was killed in a midnight shooting incident at a candidate's house in Kuliyapitiya.
Tension was reported high in Kuliyapitiya yesterday after T. Siva (20), treasurer of UNP's Kadurug-ashena youth front in Kuliyapitiya, was killed when a group opened fire at the residence of a UNP candidate in the town around midnight on Friday.
Padma Kumari Herath, the wife of candidate Gamini Dissanayake and Pradeshiya Sabha member S.A Tudor were injured in the shooting and were rushed to Colombo for emergency surgery. Hospital sources in Colombo yesterday said both of them were in a grave condition.
At least 15 persons who arrived in two double cabs at Mr. Dissayanaka's residence on the Kuliyapitiya-Madampe road suddenly opened fire.
Mr. Siva who was seated under the portico of the house was hit by two gunshots on his chest. As the candidate's wife and Mr. Tudor stepped out of the house they too were hit by the gun fire, an eyewitness said.
Mr. Tudor, a Pradeshiya Sabha member from Biyagama had gone to the area for election campaign.
The gang armed with T 56 weapons fired few more rounds into the air and towards the house before getting away.
Three Police constables who did not stop the get away vehicle when it passed the checpoint they were manning, had been interdicted, Police said.
DIG Jagath Jayawardena who is in charge of the province visited the scene and said at least 100 rounds of ammunition had been recovered. Last morning more than 1000 UNP supporters gathered at Mr. Dissanayaka's residence and Police rushed to the area to ensure that there were no further incidents or retaliation. Tension was running high in the area following the shooting incident.
Deputy Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa in a statement said that President Kumaratunga had ordered the IGP to carry out a full-scale inquiry into the incident. Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle who is in charge of campaigning in the area assured President Kumaratunga would do everything possible to bring the culprits to book.
The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) quoted PA's Chief
Ministerial candidate S.B. Nawinna as saying that the perpetrators could
be from his party. However Mr. Nawinna had said he did not know the persons
behind the attack.
By Chamintha ThilakarathnaUnited Lalith Front leader Srimani Athulathmudali yesterday warned that ULF members who were contesting the Wayamba polls from the UNP would be suspended.
"The party has not come to an agreement with the UNP to contest with it.
Therefore, anyone doing so would have to be considered a non-member of the party and his membership suspended," she said.
Her warning comes in the wake of internal disputes in the party with vice-president Ravi Karunanayake and Gen. Secretary T.M.S. Nanayakkara being suspended for defying party policies. She said these members had acted against the interests of the party and given out false information.
"They have made announcements that the working committee had decided to allow members to contest from the UNP at the NWP polls," she said, adding that party members were agitating that action be taken against Mr. Karunanayake, Mr. Nanayakkara and those members who were contesting from the UNP.
However, Mr. Karunanayake says he has not received any notice of a suspension.
By Hiranthi FernandoWhile election violence is escalating in the North Western Province, it is reported that Kurunegala Hospital is not geared to handle the increased emergencies which could arise from this violence.
Representatives of the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) who visited the Kurunegala Hospital, have found that there are shortages in life-saving antibiotics and other drugs as well as antiseptic solutions.
Two of the operating theatres are also being rewired following a fire caused by a short circuit, according to the Acting Director of the Hospital.
He said that of the three operating theatres in use, one was used for eye operations and one for maternity cases, leaving one for surgical casulaties. The emergencies are operated on in this theatre, while non urgent cases are not taken up at present.
As regards the drug situation, Chief Pharmacist T. Siwananthan said
that at the end of the year, the stock of drugs usually went down. The
Medical Supply Division in Colombo, which handles the issue of drugs has
delayed issuing the stock for the first quarter of 1999, since a stock
verification is in progress. Several life saving drugs are out of stock.
A life saving injection has been out of stock for one month. Mr. Siwananthan
said that although the estimated drug requirements had been submitted,
only a couple of items had been issued.
By Shelani De SilvaWith more than 300 incidents of violence reported from Wayamba and signs of an escalation in the final week, independent polls monitors are seeking an urgent meeting with President Kumaratunga to curb the trend.
Kingsley Rodrigo, Executive Director of the People's Action Front for Free and Fair Elections, charged that politicians were totally responsible for the violence, though the people of the province wanted a peaceful and democratic atmosphere.
He said they had met Ministers Dharmasiri Senanayake and G. L. Peiris to discuss the situation but now they felt President Kumaratunga herself must intervene to restore proper conditions for a peaceful poll next Monday. He said on Friday evening the number of incidents had topped 300.
Another poll monitor, the Center for Monitoring Election Violence, has also reported more than some 370 polls- related incidents of violence. A spokesman said some 190 had been made by UNP members and about 30 by the PA.