23rd November 1997


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New man in and trouble begins

The following is yet another excerpt in our continuing series of excerpts from the book The History of the Ceylon Police, by former Deputy Inspector General of Police A.C. Dep,

Saunders in charge (1872-1873)

"But before closing this report, I must ask the Government to seriously contemplate the necessity of establishing era long a general Police Force throughout the island. By this I do not mean a constabulary in semi military dress, armed with rifle and sword dotted about in remote spots and subject to no supervision and control; but I mean a consolidated village Police consisting of Police Vidanes and Police Mudaliyars, in direct communication with the organised Police Force of the island and under the control of its officers whilst still subject to the orders of the magistracy"

F. R. Saunders, Acting Inspector-General of Police.

Soon after Campbell accepted the offer of the leiutenant Governorship of Penang, Graham, Superintendent of Police Galle, applied for the post of Inspector-general. He felt he had claim for the post, " Not only in view of my lengthened services in the Colony but of the general usefulness that I have displayed; as well as great experience and knowledge of the people and country generally ". His senior in the Force, Captain Helsham was in-capacitated by serious illness. HG was "suffering from derangement of the nervous system and serious rheumatic pains in the right leg ". Dr. Roe reported that, " unless he got to sea immediate- ly he would probably die within a very short time ". He was on leave at the time.

Campbell who was aware of the troubles in Galle and the inquiry which was not completed and the part Graham played, forwarded the application without comments. In the meantime the new Governor William Gregory arrived in Galle on the 2nd March and came to Colombo in the Colonial steamer " Serendib " on the 4th March. A Guard of Honour of 100 men of the Ceylon Rifle Regiment greeted him at the Jetty and the Police lined the street to keep the crowd under control. The Police did not do well. Only Inspector Andree "was fore most in keeping the tribe back on the Council floor". And " Five or Six Policemen got in front of the Guard of Honour of the 73rd Regiment " and moved about quite unconcerned. One of the first acts of the new governor was to appoint a suitable person as the Inspector-General. He selected Mr. F. R. Saunders of the Civil Service. Mr. Saunders had a good knowledge of the Police Force having served on the Police Commission of 1864. The Governor wanted Mr. Saunders to inquire into the troubles in Galle as his first duty. " Mr. Saunders' first duty must be to make a thorough inquiry into the state of the Police in Galle, which appears to be thoroughly unsatisfactory".

State of the Galle Police.—Saunders accordingly went down to Galle. He found that Mr. Eaton of the Galle Police Office had absented himself " due to intemperance ". Eaton told Inspector Peries who came to call him, " that he had too much business and could not come "Saunders ordered his dismissal. He next looked into the case of Wattu. He agreed with the findings of Campbell almost entirely. He was satisfied that Inspector Dias was not aware of the torturing of Wattu. " But I am convinced that Mr. Dias was not aware of the ill-treatment ". But he had been present at the Station at the time. But in view of his welknown character for gentleness and good behaviour a reduction to the bottom of the 4th Class was considered sufficient. It was found that Inspectors Keegel and Peiris were not working " harmonious]y together ". Both were noted for transfer.

Trouble between the Galle Police and the Military.

The Military in Galle were a constant source of disturbance to the residents of the Town. They disturbed the townsfolk " by grinding an organ or ringing a bell ". They also roamed the streets creating noises and often throwing lighted cracker into verandhas. Their disturbance was so persistent that the Moors threatened to turn out if their neighbourhood was disturbed. Much of the trouble and disturbances originated from the Commandant's Quarters. Sometime earlier Captain Tighe and Lieutenant Sweenie had been convicted for their frolics. On the 24th May, 1871, a dinner party had been arranged at the Commandant's Quarters and the Police anticipating disturbances took precautions. Sergeant 19 Crawford placed Constable 24 Kelly on duty near the Oriental Hotel with instructions not to allow anyone to ring the bell. Later Kelly was joined by Constable 612 G. De Haan and Constables 203 Seeman de Silva, 898 Andiris Floor and 1006 C. J. De Silva who were on duty close by. Captain Tighe came there and inquired from them what they were doing. A short while after, Tighe came with a file of men and " after much pulling and shoving (us) about removed Kelly, Floor, Seeman De Silva and C. J. De Silva and detained them in the Guard Room.Then between midnight and 1.00 a.m. they were marched to the Police Station.

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