His Excellency Suren Raghavan
Governor, Northern Province.
The Police in Jaffna – Do We Need Them?
In the absence of a Chief Minister and Provincial Representatives who are being very wrongfully denied us here in the Northern Province by not holding elections, I am very happy to have you at the helm of the Province. I see your doing many good things; some of your critics are saying that you are doing a lot for the province. Indeed I am happy to see you in the media returning long overdue occupied lands to their owners.
Today I was at the function by the Jaffna Indian Consulate to advertise the many opportunities and associated scholarships in India that come with the near certainty upon completion of studies of the important competency in English so important to modern success. You were the chief guest but had to be away. I was made immensely happy to see His Worship Emmanuel Arnold the Mayor of Jaffna (and my old schoolmate) coming as your representative. A very welcome thaw indeed in Centre-Northern Province relations. The repeated theme of federalism in your MA and PhD theses on federalism makes me think that we share the ideal of peace through federalism.
I make bold therefore to plead the matter of police inaction and corruption in Tamil areas despite the guarantees in the Constitution that Tamil is the language of devolved administration and the courts for us in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. There is no sense in saying we must take an oath to support the constitution when government itself is the biggest violator of the constitution.
Emboldened by our having many common friends in Jaffna and the shared values off federalism, I am writing this open petition, open only to bring awareness. It concerns the several issues with the police that I have written of in the press:
1. Solicitation of bribes on the A9 highway and the relevant OIC not even raising my written complaint with the relevant officer as I learnt when I pleaded not guilty to speeding and had to cross-examine the officer. I was cleared of the charge of speeding;
2. Election violations not being prosecuted following complaints by the Election Commission and, when pressed to file action, the police altering the charge to an unsustainable one – for example altering the charge of holding an election meeting at a temple to doing so close to a polling station.
3. The charge of threats to a Public Servant (an Election Commission Member) to prevent him from doing his duty, being weakened by not marking the evidence of such threats for a year, thereby leading to the judge throwing out the evidence.
4. After I reported Douglas Devananda’s election malpractices in Kayts in 2011 and he filed a complaint with his stooge police and pliant judicial system in Kayts that I was instigating riots, the police “investigated” the matter till 2017 while I was first “wanted” and then on bail after I surrendered with the new government coming in. It took a new Magistrate to throw out all charges saying he had not seen any sign of an investigations by the police as claimed on every court date, and he did not believe there was ever one.
5. The Police coming home to detain me on the expired warrant for my arrest dating back to the year 2011 on the above Kayts matter after the judge had cleared me. This happened during the trial where I accused the police of charging me for speeding to obtain a bribe. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe personally communicated assurances to me that it would not happen again.
So fighting back and speaking up does work. This complaint concerns the police emergency number in Jaffna. It rarely works. They do not answer and when do, they often speak to us in Sinhalese and waste valuable time during an emergency asking us if we are under the Jaffna Police or the Kopay Police. I refer to four incidents that I have highlighted in the press and orally informed the police chief in Jaffna of.
1. Once driving late at night along Kachcheri Nallur Road Jaffna, there was man lying down on the middle of the Road at Nallur South. I did not know if he was drunk or had been assaulted or simply collapsed from a heart attack. I kept calling the police for a good 15 minutes with no answer or a busy signal. Afraid to get out of my car in case it was an attempt at robbery, I drove around him and onwards.
2. Several times my wife has called the emergency number to complain of illegal loud music in odd hours such as 4 am. Her calls were not answered most of the time. On a couple of occasions she made progress only because she is qualified in Sinhalese as a former Assistant Government Analyst who had to pass OL Sinhalese.
3. When the Water Board was laying pipes on Chemmany Road and held up a tractor while the earthmover was maneuvering, the angry tractor driver returned with a gang and even aimed a blow with a heavy stick at the Nallur St. James’ Vicar; the blow was taken by a warden who shielded him. The Sinhalese police took a long while coming, and came only after the Sinhalese workers called them. And when they finally came they criticized the workers for not a good thrashing to the Tamil gang when the workers were present in greater numbers.
4. Chemmany Road by the Education Department is infamous for accidents. There have been accidents with badly bleeding people who have had to wait for over an hour after calling the emergency number for the police to come.
Let me turn to the incident at hand. I was returning home today after the Indian University Fair. At Muththirai Chanthai, a gang of 20 or more had gathered around the King Changili Statue and I could see two men mercilessly beating up a person on the ground with stout sticks. Fearing to challenge them, I called the police. It was 12:51 pm. Busy… busy … busy.
Without a choice I alighted from my van and went over with my phone-camera. The crowd disbursed. An old man told me it was a thief who had started crying when they wanted to hand him over to the police. So they gave him a thrashing instead. The boy, pictured here, had cuts on his cheek-bone and arms. He was in tears and claimed he had picked up a 1000 rupee note from the ground and had been accused of stealing it. Telling me that he is from Inuvil, he used the respite to make his way into Kittu Park through the barbed wires to run away.
The police are a pampered lot with fat salaries supplemented by generous allowances, and the best motorbikes and patrol cars.
[Prof. S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole]