25 September, 2020

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A Woman & Her Broken Shop: Who Will Take Action?

By Thanges Paramsothy

Thanges Paramsothy

Thanges Paramsothy

A woman, who is the head of a family, runs a small vegetable shop in Pungudutivu after her husband left her and his two children. The earning from the shop is the only source of income for her entire family. She was also badly injured after an accident and now finds very difficult to walk. On 4th September 2015 around 10 am, a man with a knife attacked her shop. She closed the shop with the support of a neighbour fearing his action and stayed at home. He again attacked her shop in the evening on the same day. She informed about the incident to the Oorkavatturai police in Jaffna, as the police in Kurikattuwan, Pungudutivu does not inquire on or take action against such cases. She was informed that the police would visit in the following day in order to inquire about the incident. However, the following day early morning around 4 am, the man aggressively opened the shop by damaging the metal sheet, which was fixed covering the front side of the shop. The vegetables were thrown and some goods were taken. No body attempted to stop him destroying the shop. The woman who runs the shop was able to get know about this but did not attempted to stop him fearing her life.

The next day, she was waiting for police until 10 am. The helpless woman again went to Kurikattuwan police station in order to inform about the incident, as police did not come to the place. She was asked to inform about this at Oorkavatturai police station. She went to Oorkavatturai police station second time. She was again told that they would come to inquire. She was also given a telephone number. She kept her shop opened, as she wanted to show the condition of the shop to the police. She has been waiting for police during the entire day yesterday. However, nobody came. She called to the number given by the Oorkavatturai police. She was answered that they would visit the place. But they did not. She called to the number again after a few hours. There was no answer to her phone calls. Finally she closed her shop and stayed at home without knowing what would happen next.

House

*Photo by Thanges Paramsothy, the broken shop in ward-2, Pungudutivu

The helpless woman told me this incident as it is noted above. It is now three days after the incident. The police except taking a note on the incident took no action. I asked her whether I could write about this to a newspaper. She asked me whether it could cause problem to her particularly from the police. I asked why you did ask this question. She did not answer. I realised why she asked me that question. She eventually depends on police in order to get justice. Writing about the inability of police taking action immediately against injustice may create an unnecessary problem. It may further delay or they may ignore this incident without taking it as a severe issue.

Comparing with many other issues such as murder, sexual violence, robbery and so on, it can be a small issue for police establishment. But, it is definitely a bigger issue to a family who entirely depends on the income of a small shop. She has been closing the shop for three days. We cannot simply ignore this as a small issue. The person who did this may repeat similar activity, if proper action is not taken. This is what happened to the recent case of rape and murder of Vidhiya. The perpetrators, who were identified as criminals with some other incidents, were simply ignored and thus given an opportunity to involve in similar activities. This has ended with a brutal sexual violence and murder.

I think it should be brought up without fear. The police establishment is in a country to serve the affected people. People have the right to access justice irrespective of their class status or background. This is a family living in an isolated region depending on a small income from a shop. I think that the first priority should be given to serve such people. We hope the relevant authority will take the action soon.

*Thanges Paramosthy – PhD Research Student in Anthropology at the School of Social Sciences, University of East London

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Latest comments

  • 8
    0

    Thanges

    Thanks for letting the readers know this crime that took place in a remote island where only poor people lives now.

    No reasonable minded person will expect the Police to deliver justice to this poor lady.
    Police will come to the rescue of rich and powerful persons only. Even God cannot bring a change!

  • 8
    0

    Thanges

    Thanks for bringing this woman’s plight to the media. Unfortunately her story is the norm, not the exception. I remember several incidents at my household – in a fairly safe and middle-class suburb of Colombo, inhabited mainly by Sinhalese. In one instance a drunkard was insulting my dad outside our wall for many hours – we called the police – and they wanted us to bring a car to bring the police to the scene!!!

    In another instance, one of our neighbours incorporated our boundary wall to add an extension to his house – illegal by law. Once again the police did nothing. My mom went to the courts, where they ruled in her favour; yet the building remains to this day, since the police does not act on behalf of the commoners, regardless of what the judiciary has decided.

    One often hears of horror stories of torture at the hands of sadistic police officers inside prison or the remand facilities.

    The police is not there for the people – it is there for politicians, period.

  • 5
    2

    Does this make a case for Provincial Police … ? It does.

    • 4
      2

      No.
      Seperation and self rule. That will cure all problems of the poor.

      • 1
        4

        Separation and Self rule will definitely solve this problem. If you look at the police force in the North East almost 95% of the police personal are Sinhalese and their families are in the South. Of course they are humans and in a competitive money based society their focus is maximising their take away income.There is a great opportunity for that in the North East and none of the civilians are prepared to go against police as the author highlighted. It is an absured argument that there is lack of training or inadequate resources. They look for easy money. It is the political culture that was going for years and now it is on the peak.

        • 5
          0

          If 95% police is Sinhalese why do you think that happened? Do you think any civilian, specially the poor in SL will go against the police? It will not happen in any country.

    • 0
      2

      Nathan,

      “Does this make a case for Provincial Police”

      I don’t want to defend the police but there might be simple practical reasons for their passivity in this case.

      Lack of a Tamil speaking female officer to meet the victim, lack of transportation, “hot” emergency cases having priority etc.

      The police should explain why they did not act or there was a delay but who is going to officially ask them?

      There must be thousands of similar cases in our country that nobody cares and knows about. We know about this case only because of the efforts of Thanges.

      It will take time for the President, Minister for law and order and the IGP to re-educate our police officers. Some of the police officers should be punished not just transferred.

      The idea of a Provincial Police Force in my opinion would bring more Tamils into the police force assuming that suitable Tamils are willing to be recruited. Note that many Tamils in the North do not meet the minimum requirements to join the police like having a pass in Ordinary level Math, being relatively young and unmarried.

      The Provincial Police as it is mentioned in the Constitution is supposed to enforce national level law and order not any kind of Provincial Law dictated by the Chief Minister and Provincial Council.

      Thanges wrote earlier about a meeting where the inhabitants of the island expressed their problems to different government servants. In addition to the law and order problem there were many problems that clearly should be solved by the Provincial Council, Government Agent and rest of the local authorities.

      Have the local authorities done anything about education, health, transportation, water etc?

      There is apparently a wine store or bar in a sensitive location near a school, temple or nursery causing a nuisance for the people. Has it been closed by the local authorities who have the power to do it?

      I have read of wine stores been raided and closed in Kandy and other places but never in the Northern Province. Are the local authorities (Pungudutivu DS?) unable to close down a wine store? Why? Corruption, fear, lethargy?

  • 6
    1

    Bravo! Your social activism is admirable and very much needed, especially in the yet selfish and cowardly North.
    The problems with the police are their poor training, bad attitude towards the poor and helpless, complicated procedures, inadequate resources, insensitivity and large areas of coverage.

    Dr.RN

  • 4
    0

    Mr Paramsothy,

    You are right to highlight this seemingly trivial incident.

    Law abiding citizens have the right to expect a prompt response from those charged with keeping law and order. In fact, zero tolerance should be the benchmark. It is a well espoused principle that bigger crimes often ensure from the failure to put a stop to the impunity of unruly elements. We have the evidence of the last 50 years in this country to serve as a warning.

    I would hope the authorities take note, and this women gets the protection she deserves.

  • 4
    2

    IF no action is taken by the police… this type of desperate situations will push people to defend themselves and to take up arms.. I feel sorry for the lady and the kids. WHY..WHY hasnt the police taken NO action? She is a CITIZEN of SL who has to be given protection just like how Chathurika, MS’s daughter was given…for her “Study Tour” Our police and other forces do not get their priorities right…. shame on the Police of the 2 mentioned villages… I sincerely hope the IGP is informed about this scenario and the inability of the police to inquire and take timely action before something drastic happens…to the lady and the family…

    • 3
      0

      SEA,
      Do you know how many poor Sinhalese in the south go through similar situations on a daily basis? Are you saying they also should go raise arms??

  • 3
    0

    Thanges,

    “She informed about the incident to the Oorkavatturai police in Jaffna, as the police in Kurikattuwan, Pungudutivu does not inquire on or take action against such cases.”

    Unfortunately this case is not unusual.

    Has the victim managed to make a written complaint or not? Does Kurikattuwan maybe have a police post instead of a “real” police station?

    If I remember correctly the previous Kayts OIC (also in charge of Pungudutivu) was already transferred because of the rape and murder case.

    One of the problems with the police is that the higher police officers like SDIG and IGP never hear of these cases because nobody tells them.

    If you want to and have the consent from the victim you can make an “e-complaint” to the IGP. There is, of course, the risk that both you and the victim will be attacked due to the compaint. Your article might be enough to cause a revenge attack.

    Here is one way to contact the IGP.

    http://www.police.lk/index.php/complaint-form

    Are there any results from the “big meeting” where the complaints of the islanders were registered by public servants?

    Thanks for your article. Keep us informed about the situation.

    • 1
      0

      Inspector Dirty Hari
      I have made a formal complaint to IGP, regarding the Police inaction of the Kayts Police Station, using the above Web Site!

      • 1
        0

        Vetmahadeva,

        “I have made a formal complaint to IGP, regarding the Police inaction of the Kayts Police Station, using the above Web Site!”

        Are you serious?

        Did you receive a reply mail from the IGPs office with a reference number?

        Your complaint will now be sent from the IGP down the command chain all the way to Kayts OIC.

        That is what should happen.

        I am afraid that the victim has maybe been sent away by the police several times and that they have not registered her complaint in the Information Book.

        BTW, some police officers read CT.

        I hope that Thanges can follow up what happens in this case.

        • 0
          0

          Inspector Dirty Hari

          Yes I did complain, and I did receive a reference NO. as 1e6a3d7ebaV995260145 to my Email.

          Thanks

          • 0
            0

            Vetmahadeva and others,

            Thank you for your reply and action.

            What would the police reaction be if concerned persons started mailing inquiries to the IGP and the SDIG of the police region where a problem is alleged to exist?

            In this case the Northern Region Senior Deputy Inspector General can be found at sdig.np@police.lk and IGP at igp@police.lk

            I personally like the idea of putting some pressure on the police to help them.

  • 3
    1

    Are some of the Police in the North having a holiday or acting hand in glove with this type of undesirables?
    When will good governance dawn in the North?
    Would at least some of the Police powers get devolved to the provincial council? If so, when? Waiting for auspicious times?

    Sengodan. M

  • 4
    0

    Where are all the political representatives who were running around for votes in this area only recently people like Douglas?

  • 4
    0

    Thanges P

    Very useful note once again from you.

    The Provincial councils, AGA offices and Pradeshya Sabas should have dedicated officials to act on reports on negligence of duty by public agencies including the police.

    From the comments above, it is evident such an arrangement is required for all parts of the island. True commitment to yahapalanaya would mean the urgent institution of such grass root arrangements.

    In the eantome one wishes that every electorate has someone like you who will be public minded enough to highlight such criminal avoidance of the duty of care by persons who paid for it.

  • 3
    2

    The POLICE in Sri Lanka’s has been a piece of rubbish with a bunch of ignorant and corrupted farmers who think they are Heros for the normal civilians.
    Even with YAHALAPALANA or whatever tongue twister motto, Sri Lanka will never be an Islad where you can practice “good governance”. Let that word be just another synonym in the heads of the citizens.

  • 7
    1

    I wish to share an incident that took place in this island of Punguduthivu about 44 years ago.

    Two prominent progressive writers of this island ( late M Thalayasingam teacher, student of St.Aloysious College Ratnapura & Peradeniya University and late S Vilvaratnam well known poet ) were engaged in a peaceful protest -satyagraha – in front of Kali Kovil seeking justice to the local Dalits who were prevented from drawing drinking water from the well closer to the Kovil. Only velalas could draw water from this well and Dalits have to wait until a Vella passes that way and willing to help them. As expected Trustees of the Kovil did not like the protest and they took advice from Kayts M P late K P Ratnam and with his backing bribed Kayts Police to do the dirty work. Drunken police officers came to the Kovil midnight ( for not alerting the local public ) and carried out their duty with baton and boots to the satisfaction of the Inspector of Police and Trustees. M P too was very happy. Two protestors were taken to Kayts Courts and the charge framed was ” both stollen money from the till box of Kovil” . It was a very small Kovil and no one put money into the till box yet ” Charge entered “because some Trustees involved are big Colombo Mudalalis. Their cash bundles reached the appropriate places and of course with liquor bottles. Two protestors were remanded in Jaffna prison ( they said that they were lucky to meet JVP members inside the prison ) and each time taken to Kayts Courts with handcuff in public transport, a humiliating sight, but happier moments for the authorities. As usual lawyers argued for money and they were happy when the case was postponed. Finally two protestors were conditionally released after a few months in remand.

    When I think of this incident now I do not see any difference. Police Courts Power of M.P and Mudalalis still remain the same. If I say future of our society is very bleak would you agree with me ?

  • 4
    3

    Sri Lankan police are a disgrace to the word police.

    In as much they have a very warped sense of duty island wide, it seems that in the North they are totally uninterested in upholding the law.

    Police are there to protect state interests and don’t even bother with enforcing the law to protect the innocent. Rather the police are there to oppress the common citizen.

    Its this kind of apparent negligent nonchalant attitude that would lead to peoples disillusioned views of the government and subsequent feeling of dejection and hatred.

    Something must be done to address this police issue soon. Things can’t continue this way…

    It is a fundamental right of every citizen to have a sense of security, justice and fair play. This is not a request, a privilege or a favour. Its a must.

    A lot can be done to expose police, for instance if there is a database where all police related complaints can be logged on the internet, it will be useful in the long run as evidence. Once a substantial number of cases are logged then action can be taken.

    In other countries Police can be taken to court, I don’t know how far that applies to Sri Lanka, I it must be possible too.

  • 3
    2

    Thanges

    Your public spirit and generous spending of your time to help the down trodden is heart-warming.

    Those two SOBs who are sitting in the OIC chair at the Pungudutivu and Oorkavatturai Police Stations do not have the aptitude nor the appetite for the dedication required to carry out their duties. May be they will act only if they are bribed by the complainant. If Sirisena has any backbone, he will order their removal and dismissal immediately. Eff the rule of law.

    The IGP too is the same as those two SOBs. Attorney General too is the same as evidenced by his ruling “there’s no case against KP”.

    The Government is deaf dumb and blind. The public have no recourse.

    So, Thanges, you have a job to do. Please publish the names and photographs of the two OICs.

    Thanks.

    • 4
      0

      Eff the rule of law??
      What did you say when MR was breaking the law?
      Use your brain! the only way these can be solved is through the elected political leader of the area questioning it in the Parliament. Even if nothing happens at least these incidents are documented to be used against the gov. At the mean time keep in mind it has nothing to do with the race. More poor Sinhalese in the south go through similar situations in a regular basis.

      • 0
        0

        Eusense,

        “the only way these can be solved is through the elected political leader of the area questioning it in the Parliament.”

        The Jaffna Islands are sort of bases of the UNP and EPDP in Jaffna. Sorry but I don’t believe that Douglas and mrs Maheswaran would take up this case unless there is a lot more publicity than now.

        Anyway: parliament makes laws and the police, public servants and courts enforce or should enforce them.

        “Even if nothing happens at least these incidents are documented to be used against the gov.”

        I am not against the government. These incidents should be used to force change. It is clear that more time is needed for change.

  • 2
    0

    We as a nation is responsible for every injustice that goes by without redress. No government can conduct a proper administration if we ignore the reasonable needs of all our citizens. We have seen perpetrators of minor to major crimes go free. There must be a civil outcry that will address these issues with finality. Without that, we will go for another 44 years or more in this same boat.

  • 4
    5

    The first thing this lady should do is inform the MP she voted for and got elected. These are the situations theses politicians should address. What is atak, tna etc. Etc. Doing? Busy trying to separate and grab power for themselves?

    • 3
      4

      I am sure the OIC of Punkudutivu Police Station is your uncle, a crocodile from Hambantota. That’s why this has happened. The best advice you can give is to ask the victim to bribe the OIC to get things done.

      • 3
        0

        Bribe, Navin? So we do two wrongs to TRY correcting one wrong?!! This is the trouble. We as a nation must come out of that mind-set of corruption.

      • 4
        0

        What an Idiot!

    • 1
      2

      eusense,

      “The first thing this lady should do is inform the MP she voted for and got elected. These are the situations theses politicians should address.”

      You appear to be asking for politicians to interfere in the work of the police.

      As long as people think like you do there is no hope of independent police and courts in our country.

      Good governance and rule of law are supposed to keep politicians far away from any OIC or judge.

      • 3
        0

        Tra
        I am dealing with a bunch of retards! If the police it self is not taking any action what do you think the next step should be? Raise arms as someone here posted as the solution? You saw what happened the last time a bunch of idiots did so.

  • 2
    0

    The poor woman is deserving of sympathy as her troubles arose because the husband decided to join the ranks of the ‘disappeared’ leaving her and the two young children to their own devices.
    The police should have acted with haste, BUT solving such crimes in the particular setting is no easy task.

  • 4
    2

    police is the birthplace of all the sins and crimes in srilanka and india too.

  • 0
    0

    IGP based on seniority is the cause of all this.If army commander was also appointed like that during the war we would be still battling prabhaharan.You appoint the best person for any job,not the most senior.

    Also it is better to give the police powers to the north.That way wiggie will have to take the blame.Now he will say not my problem.

  • 1
    1

    Tragedy. Tamil criminals and thugs are no different from Sinhalese criminals. Now that there is no fear of LTTE and instant justice, they have to resort to corrupt, drunken cops. Best is to have State LOCAL police made of Tamils in Tamil areas or at least tamil speakers. The questions I have for this social voice is Are the Cops there Tamils? Or were they Tamil speakers at least? This is Tamil on tamil violence like the tragic rape murders. You cannot blame us Sinhalese for violent, drug addicted and alcoholic Tamils or the pathetic woefully primitive Hindu CASTE system where Vellalas and Brahmins oppress Dalits. Low castes or Shudra people are not allowed an equal footing. They are not allowed to enter high caste homes through the front, they are not allowed to drink or eat of the same utensils, they are not allowed to sit with the higher castes. These are systemic evils of backward Hinduism that can be broken if Buddhism and Christianity can be spread.

  • 0
    2

    Police are known to be utterly corrupt – inducements are needed for them to take action.
    I hope the president and/or the minister in charge takes suitable action.

  • 1
    1

    Yahapalanaya has short-lived with jumbo cabinet formation. Yarla palanaya going to worse than mara palanaya . a jumbo cabinet means mi3 is agreeing to all culprits in their action and the tyrannical racists will dominate with their anti Tamil crimes to continue. That is evident . vithya divya and so on .

  • 1
    0

    Tassimo

    Caste discrimination is nothing to do with Hinduism. Bad elements in Hindu society adopted it and amalgamated with the religion for their selfish reasons. Please peruse articles in esamskriti website if you need a quick reference.

    If you go to some of the Churches in Jaffna ,even now, you will find separate seats for Dalits. High caste Christians won’t mix with them. Does it mean Christianity advocates casteism. Definitely not. Just like class system in the western countries we find caste or some other form of discrimination in Asian countries. This includes economically developed countries such as Jappan and China.

    Eusense

    Expecting this poor lady to contact M.P for Kayts for relief is not a better idea. Don’t you know that M.P will visit the constituents once in five years only, except in case the election date is advanced.

    If Kayts Police Officers read CT and come to know that we are discussing about her case, no doubt the lady will be arrested and disappeared! Then Thanges and we have to look after her children. But I am pretty sure that Police Officers won’t be proficient in English so the lady will be alive without justice.

    • 3
      0

      MR,
      So what is your advice to this woman?
      The main idea of informing the Kyts MP is for him to speak on the situation at the parliament if no action is taken even at the IGP level. These politicians were elected by the people to help them at their hour of need. If this guy does not pursue action, vote him out at the next election. If a UNP MP was elected may be this woman would have had a better result.

      • 2
        6

        Nuisance

        Its only a Tamil woman, its alright forget it.

        UNP/SLFP don’t dependent on Tamil votes.

  • 0
    0

    Eusense

    I have nothing to advise this lady except to convey my sympathies and offer financial assistance.

    My humble view is Members of parliament should stay in his /her electorate most of the time and come forward voluntarily to help the constituents. This incident took place on 4th and in spite of this news appeared in the press and CT, M.P is nowhere to be seen so far. This includes UNP M.P Mrs Maheswaran.

    Having known most of the Members from Jaffna District, while I was there, and involved in social political activities that include my severe attempts to reform these selfish creatures, I lost all my hope and expectation. These Jaffna politicians cannot be tamed! Residents vote for them because they cannot differentiate between cheats and genuine.

    • 2
      0

      MR,

      “I have nothing to advise this lady except to convey my sympathies and offer financial assistance.”

      If we all offer only sympathy and money nothing will change.

      Instead of being passive we should put pressure on the politicians we have chosen and the public servants that have been chosen for us.

      Let us try to use social media, contact the “real” media and the mechanisms to complain that exist to change the system.

      Would you like to see a Jaffna MP storming the Kayts police station and kicking some butt there? That kind of behaviour is what we voted against didn’t we?

  • 0
    0

    Inspector Dirty Hari

    In my long experience I did not see a “real ” Tamil media that is progressive and aim to alleviate the sufferings of poor. Editors are controlled by Press owners who expect profit and not social service. There may be real media in English and Sinhala languages but in Jaffna ordinary people or govt servants do not read them, hence the system remains corrupt eternally

    Yes we voted against violence but when Police and Politicians are inactive and the victim has no redress I would definitely prefer a little bit of threatening behaviour. I mention this out of my long struggle to uplift the poor and oppressed.

    Of course we need several Inspectors of Dirty Hari in Jaffna to bring change in the system.

    • 0
      0

      MR,

      Thanks for your reply.

      “In my long experience I did not see a “real ” Tamil media that is progressive and aim to alleviate the sufferings of poor. Editors are controlled by Press owners who expect profit and not social service. There may be real media in English and Sinhala languages but in Jaffna ordinary people or govt servants do not read them, hence the system remains corrupt eternally”

      I agree with you about the main stream Tamil media. Because of this social media and citizenship journalism becomes the only alternative.

      “Yes we voted against violence but when Police and Politicians are inactive and the victim has no redress I would definitely prefer a little bit of threatening behaviour. I mention this out of my long struggle to uplift the poor and oppressed.”

      The victims are usually too weak and afraid to do anything. The politicians don’t care. The main stream media doesn’t care.

      In my opinion the only way to threaten is thru social media, citizen journalism and community activism that embarrases the public servants and politicians enough to act.

      In this case the police apparently did not do their work. We have to put pressure on their superiors like the DIG, SDIG and IGP.

      Many police officers want to do their work without political interference. Many of them know what poverty is due to their own background.

      The situation is not hopeless.

  • 0
    0

    Inspector Dirty Hari

    Thanks and I fully agree with you although I am sick and tired with / by the system.

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