1 October, 2020

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Counter-Thuggery Doesn’t Pay

By Mahesan Niranjan

Prof. Mahesan Niranjan

Prof. Mahesan Niranjan

Out there, in the northern parts of post-war Sri Lanka, anyone who cares to look will see a difficult situation prevailing. There live people who have not been re-settled in places they were displaced from, there is out of proportionately high presence of the armed forces, there are people who are still searching for their loved ones whom they last saw with their hands held high, and they are being watched all the time. They can be taken in at any time, released or not at will. The place has been pushed so far back in time that the notion of due process is yet to be invented. Of such facts, when denial cannot be sustained, “it is for their own good,” it is fashionably claimed.

A day or so ago, as far as I can glean from news reports of what happened – which I hope is true at least to a first approximation, forgive me please for any inaccuracies — some people who are still looking for their loved ones organized a protest, a peaceful protest which they are perfectly entitled to do in a functioning democracy. And there was also a counter protest – again something anyone who can spare a few bucks and bottles is perfectly entitled to organize in a democracy.

Now it is known that one protest can be peaceful, but two quickly become too many and the environmental tension will hit the stratosphere. Mr Suresh Premachandran MP, a Member of Parliament from the Tamil National Alliance (and holds high office as its official spokesperson) arrives in the middle of it, has an exchange of words with the counter-protesters and someone in the crowd goes to attack him. The police intervene to stop the scuffle.

A policeman who looks a bit like a senior officer (holding a walkie-talkie in his hand) waves rather rudely at the MP to go away. Two junior cops try to move the people, including the MP.

And then it happens.

One of the cops, in the process of separating the crowd, puts his hand on the MP’s shoulder. This annoys the MP immensely and he shouts at the policeman: “Touch my shoulder and I will kick you.” “What is `kick’?” asks the cop who either does not understand Tamil or has never been kicked before in his life, the former being a more plausible hypothesis. The MP repeats his offer to kick him. Perhaps somebody in the background helps by translating, or the policeman works it out using his own imagination, he gets it. He hands over his gun and cap to a colleague to sort it out with the MP by a fist fight. Some unprintable words are spoken during this. Others intervene and avoid further escalation.

SureshAndPoliceWatching the video, I find the behaviour of Premachandran MP unacceptable. However tensed the situation was, his behaviour can be best described by the term “thuggery.” The language he uses and the hand gestures he makes towards the policeman are totally inappropriate from someone who is, at least in theory, supposed to represent me. His responsibility is to calm the situation – not aggravate it.

More importantly, even if he manages to deliver a few blows which he can later gloat about, he is unlikely to win a fist fight with the ralahamy (policeman).

Now some ask the usual question of political philosophy as applied to Sri Lankan politics: “Didn’t the other side start it?” May be, I do not know. And I do not care.

Others ask me “Would the policeman have behaved in that way – touching an MP’s shoulder to move him away – had it been a Sinhala politician?” “Perhaps,” we would infer from some opposition MPs who encountered the gun wielding Mayor in Hambanthota — that toy gun, remember?

Yet others say “Would the policeman have behaved that way had the MP been from the ruling party?” “Probably not,” we would infer from the cop who is now in hospital for daring to issue a speeding ticket.

Whatever the fine details of the situation are, we ought not to forget the single most important lesson we learnt by looking back at the last thirty years of political history of our country. A lesson learnt at enormous cost to a community as well as the country. That lesson is this: Counter-thuggery doesn’t pay. That cannot be the way.

And Mr Premachandran is well placed to know this.

In that context, with all due respect, may I offer a challenge to the MP?

Write a note of apology to that policeman whom you threatened to kick. Write it in your own handwriting in Tamil and don’t forget to include a Sinhala translation. Along with the note, send him a small gift – a dozen of Jaffna’s best variety mangos.

You see, your stature as official spokesperson of the Alliance that stands for Tamil Nationalism will not be diminished by showing such goodwill. You see, you will be showing the cop that you recognize him as the instrument, and not the architect. You see, you can only stand tall by doing so. You might even earn the right to represent me by doing so.

And there is gain to be made from that investment, I assure you.

Next time you organize a protest, and this policeman is on duty, and the order comes from an air-conditioned office in Colombo to shoot into the crowd – just as we saw in Chilaw, Katunayake and Weliweriya — can you guess what might happen?

He will miss — deliberately!

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Latest comments

  • 7
    3

    “totally inappropriate from someone who is, at least in theory, supposed to represent me. “

    Are you someone living currently in the North to claim that the MP represents you?

    If you are from UK, then I suggest who ever your MP in UK represents you.

    • 4
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      Fitzpatrick,
      Thanks.
      I was going to ask the same question on Groundview.

    • 0
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      Now the funny thing is that the questioner is, (as he /she claims to be) a Burger, an English person (named Fitzpatrick).

      Niranjan’s short articles are always worth a read and are on the whole critical of all the worthies involved.

      • 3
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        I didn’t claim the MP was representing me did I dear Ram?

        By the way I am still waiting for your “proof”

        LOL

        • 0
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          I am sure you are after having my reply deleted at Groundviews.

        • 0
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          I see that one of my comments has been reinstated, but NOT the important one. The truth is really grating, isn’t it ?

          • 0
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            I see that there has been a quick response. ‘This comment has been deleted’ has appeared when 24 hours ago your question appaered as if there had been NO response. Groundviews with intolerance to ‘policy alternatives’. Never.

            • 4
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              I think you are in the wrong site, this is Colombo Telegraph not GV??

  • 4
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    .
    Agree,,,,, MP should apologies.

    :-)

  • 4
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    “Next time you organize a protest, and this policeman is on duty, and the order comes from an air-conditioned office in Colombo to shoot into the crowd – just as we saw in Chilaw, Katunayake and Weliweriya — can you guess what might happen?” >>>this is petty crime for the man in the aorconditioned office, comapred to the white flag incident after giving all the assurance to the internationl players, call came form the air conditioned office…..

  • 6
    4

    your video clip is truncated.
    “One of the cops, in the process of separating the crowd, puts his hand on the MP’s shoulder”

    The cop was infact pushing the MP and not putting a friendly hand on his shoulder.

    What you are suggesting is that MPs should salute the cops in Sri Lanka. A polcie state?

  • 9
    1

    Niranjan,
    It is good to see your wish of making Tamil politicians better and more diplomatic, this shows you’re love and believe on Tamil people. From my point of view, my priority is to make the police who belongs to the majority Sinhalese are better, improve their understanding on cultural diversities, tolerance, etc.
    I don’t know whether you missed to hear one policeman, who is Gov officer in duty, says the following in the video clip.. “Hari Hutthakne, Policiyata Gahanna” (closest translation- “What the fu_k, hitting police”). Not that bad when it says in English, Sinhalese version sounds rather bad..
    Like your priority of improving Tamil politician, my priority should be educating and improving Sinhalese Gov policemen…
    Fundamentally, this also poroves that using Sinhalese speaking policemen in Tamil speaking areas,especially after 30 or 60 years of ethnic war, is purely wrong….
    Anura

    • 3
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      Your point itself who you are. I am not accepting that wording is good. But that person is sowing his frustration about the your leaders action. Please note in south we don’t care whether the person is Tamil or Sinhalese or any body else. For general public who ever wrong is wrong. Why you try to justify his action. The racist Tamil politician, since the days of Donamor and Solbury create this mentality among so called no-racist Tamil people like you. We have no option, need to accept every time we are the wrong because we are Sinhalese.

      • 1
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        Senarath says “Please note in south we don’t care whether the person is Tamil or Sinhalese or any body else. For general public who ever wrong is wrong.”
        Where is this “South” ? Ha ha.. you are a joker…

        • 0
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          Yes i am Jocker. I am proud about it. But you? North is exemplary good with non-racist, non-violent, tolerating, welcoming patient kind non-aggressive kind general public including politicien. How wonderfull world is……………

    • 0
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      I am sure you’d rather give police powers to the likes of Premachandran.

  • 4
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    From the limited nature of this clip, I fully agree with the writer: the MP-s reaction to the policeman’s attempts to calm things down are TOTALLY inappropriate, and he should do as the writer asks and tender an unreserved apology. If he doesn’t, he should be fired from office for his behaviour, thereby making an example of how to reign in MP-s and others of their ilk who behave like jerks elsewhere in the country.

    This will be a major plus too, for the NPC and Mr CVW.

  • 4
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    Mahesan Niranjan defends the barbaric behaviour of the policemen who took his coat and his batch and then proceeded in a threatening manner to hit the MP. When the MP retaliated may be in like manner Niranjan calls that thuggery. He does not consider the Policeman behaviour towards an elected member of parliament thuggery. It is a typical mind set of the Police who think they are superior to the conquered Thamil people. Yet Niranjan is holding a brief for the thug in uniform. The protest was a peaceful one. It was the duty of the police to give protection to the protesters and prevent any breach of peace. But what the Police did was the opposite. The Police and Army sleuths as usual hired goons and brought them to the scene of the protest to attack the protesters. The Police should have taken action against the counter protesters and kept them at a distance so as not to cause breach of peace. This the Police as usual woefully failed to do. Because it was they who hired the goons. I take serious exception to his insinuation that “A lesson learnt at enormous cost to a community as well as the country. That lesson is this: Counter-thuggery doesn’t pay. That cannot be the way.” He is insulting the memory of thousands of fighters who laid their life for the sake of liberation. Obviously he does not want liberation. He is living in comfort in salubrious climes and care oppressed for our people. Let me remind some recent history. Oppressed people always took arms to fight their oppressors and most of the time they won. Examples are plenty. East Timor, South Sudan, Eritrea, Kosovo to name a few. Living in London he might opt to live the life of a slave. But not Thamils with backbone!

    • 1
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      Dear Thanga. I can understand, ypu are blind gye not in site but in heart. Otherwise you are not making this comment. See what is in the video. You are typical LTTE bugger.

  • 4
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    The MP (who should know better) was pushing his luck but the biggest surprise of all was that the cop didn’t pull his trigger. There is hope, after all.

  • 1
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    “These are Politicians are acceptable to me now, because the Pragmatism and Finesse they exhibit ” Dr Rajasingham Narendran to my suggestion that the CMs and their coterie are not up to it to have their own Police.

    Thank you Mr Premachandran. Hon MP of the TNA .

  • 2
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    Elilan , the missing husband of NPC member Ananthi lead a posse of LTTE Tiger cadres to round up 300 children who had taken refuge in a Church, and took them away to protect the great Leader in his final battle at Mullivaikal.

    The bereaved mums of these children confronted the TNA members who were holding a vigil for Eilalan with Miss Anathi.

    This ended up in a confrontation . between the Vellalas and the others.

    Cops taking the side of the non Vellalas obviously had a devastating effect on this MP Premachandra, who has repeatedly impressed upon his Foreign supporters that he and his Vellala mates are the sole custodians and protectors of the non Vellalas in the North .

    Telling mr Premachandran to leave these people alone was a bit too much for him to handle.

    To top it all when the cop, a most probably a non Vellala Sinhalese put his low caste arm around Prema the disgust really blew his top.

    Otherwise who in his right mind tell a Armed Cop ” I will f…k you I will kill you f…ing Ba….d even in Dravidian dialect.

    Just imagine a Taliban Politician who has had known links to the Al Queda confronting an American Policeman in Afganistan and telling him that even in Urdu?..

  • 1
    1

    The writer attempts to apply the lifestyle and standards he learnt in the western world.
    Clinical application of behavioural science won’t cut it in Sri Lanka.
    Its normal part of venting frustration, did happen to Mahatma Gandhi.

    This is written for the sake of writing when there are many things in militarised Sri Lanka to write home about

    • 2
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      Niranjan is entitled to point out that polticians both in the South and the North often behave abominably.

      • 1
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        Ram

        “Niranjan is entitled to point out that polticians both in the South and the North often behave abominably.”

        Southern politicians are best behaved gem of people.

        • 1
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          Vedda: Never mind the Southern politicians. We would all love to know your views on Suresh’s behavior. Would your elders approve?

          • 2
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            Sigma

            “We would all love to know your views on Suresh’s behavior. Would your elders approve?”

            Do I have to repeat this all the time? I was informed he was the head of Mandayan Group when EPRLF was active in the North East. Initially I thought he was the head of a EPRLF Think Tank but later I was told he was the head of a head of hunting tribe within EPRLF. Please approach Dayan for details.

            When there is less news of his political existence in the North he does all kinds of stupid things which he hopes would attract publicity and confirmation of his contribution to the Tamil National Liberation through failed Marxism.

            According to some sceptics two question remain unanswered.

            How did he manage to slip out just before LTTE attack on EPRLF leadership in Chennai? How did he survive LTTE since 1990?

            Here is the link to LTTE attack on EPRLF in Chennai:

            Excerpts:

            [On June 19, 1990, the Tigers stormed into an apartment at Zachria Colony in Kodambakkam, Chennai, when the central committee m eeting of the EPRLF was under way, and sprayed bullets. Thirteen top EPRLF leaders, including its soft-spoken secretary-general K. Padmanabha, Finance Minister in the now defunct Northeastern Provincial Council P. Kirubakaran, and Member of Parliament Yo gasankari, were killed. While escaping in a car after the attack, they killed two local people. The killers fled to the Jaffna peninsula from the Vedaranyam coast of Tamil Nadu.]

            http://www.frontline.in/static/html/fl1617/16171020.htm

            Is he still a Marxist? Why does he not sport a greying beard, red shirt and a green Castro cap?

            What more could I say about Suresh’s behavior?

            Oh my Elders could never approve such stupid behaviour.

  • 0
    1

    should have smacking the fat B silly

    Cheers

    Abhaya

  • 0
    2

    The policeman is not fit for police duty and the MP is fit for representing thugs but not good Jaffna people whom I know well.

  • 1
    1

    For the man in the air-conditioned ofice who massacred circa 70,000 inncoent civilians and surrendering carders/leaders, Chilaw, Katunayake and Weliweriya is a loose change.

  • 2
    1

    K.A. Sumanasekera suffers from a chronic obsession about Vellalas. You discuss any subject his sick mind brings up the caste issue as though there is no caste system among the Sinhala – Buddhists. It is a well known fact the Buddhist chapters themselves are organized purely on caste basis. This is not only a shame for Buddhists but an insult to Buddha himself. The Asgiriya and Malwatte Chapters (Siyam Nikaya) grants Higher ordination only to the Radala and Govigama castes. The Siyam Nikaya has been an exclusive conclave of the Radala Govigama sect from the time of the Kings of Sri Lanka.
    The Siyam Nikaya as custodians of the Tooth Relic have always received the full support and patronage of the Govigama dominated Sri Lankan State and its Ministers and Ministries of Buddha Sasana, Cultural Affairs. The monopolisation of the lord Buddha’s tooth relic by the Radala Govigama combination on caste based lines have brought shame & bad reputation to Buddhism in Sri Lanka,which resembles the white apartheid rule in South Africa,where only the whites were able to enjoy certain privileges. If Asgiriya and Malwatte are monopolised by Radala and Govigama caste then Amarapura is monopolised by the Salagama caste. Amarapura Nikaya contains 23 sub-castes and Ramanna Nikkaya 2 subcastes. Thus caste determined membership in any of these sects.

    The caste based discrimination made many Karava, Salagama, Durava, Bathgama & other castes people considered “low” by the Govigama to become Catholics & Anglicans.

    So Sumanasekera must first remove the log in his eyes before take the dust out of Thamil’s eye.

    • 0
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      From which world this Thanga came. Please tell me some body. Is he bron today? Ayioooooooooooo thanga, you are really out of mine.

      • 0
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        Where did Thanga come from?
        He came out from the Sinhala Buddhist Vellala racist mind of K.A.Sumane.

        • 0
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          I realised. Because, only sinhala buddhist are racist. It is known fact to every body. Non-racist tamils are not even racist. They are so pure and pure. Ha haha haaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

  • 1
    0

    The copper was trying to be too smart.He followed Premechandran quite a distance and pushed him.They should investigate this fellow.He might be a guy planted to create trouble.More details of him is needed.he is not just another copper but maybe a militant type now wearing uniform.

    There was no need for him to come after the MP because there was no crowd to seperate and the MP was going his way.he did it deliberately to provoke a confrontation with the MP.

  • 0
    0

    AS they say ‘there is no such thing as bad publicity’ publicity is publicity. That is what the like of Premachandran are after and that is what he got. Now he can brag about it when he next visit Canada how he threatend to kick a Sinhala policeman.
    Way to go Suresh,way to go,keep it up.

    • 0
      0

      “how he threatend to kick a Sinhala policeman.”

      nak,how do you know he was a sinhala policeman?

      Sinhala policemean are career types and need their salary to put food on the table for their families.Will they just hand over their revolver and challenge a MP for a fist fight?I think not.

      He might be a tamil recruit.Definitely the behaviour of a former militant type. Premechandran is also a former militant and behaviour of both are very similar to me.Everything ‘uthai”adi’adida’ etc.

      tamil culture at its best.

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