2 July, 2022


Gayashan Is Still Missing

By Basil Fernando

Basil Fernando

Basil Fernando

Gayashan still remains missing following police detention at the Hambanthota Police Station.

Thanks to media interest, the matter is being discussed all over the country. The Inspector General of Police Pujith Jayasundara is reported to have spoken with the father of Gayashan, promising that he would do everything in his power to find the young man, or take serious action if something has happened to him. Despite this, there is still not even a clue about what happened to Gayashan.

There are several aspects of this case that are worth considering, particularly in the context of Sri Lankan police commemorating the 150th Anniversary of its existence. In fact, age-wise, the Sri Lankan police is much older than that, as it was started immediately after the British captured the Maritime Provinces. The year of founding is therefore 1795.

As the institution is that old, it is worth considering whether many of the things that are known to have happened in Gayashan’s case should have happened at all.



It is now well established that the reason for the arrest was related to the theft of paddy bags, from a storage house in the area. Three young men were arrested, and they were coerced to accept responsibility for stealing these paddy bags, despite them, in fact, vehemently denying any such theft or involvement. Surely, officers belonging to an institution as old as this one should have been given at least the elementary training necessary to investigate a matter that is, at best, a petty theft. Why did these officers, who are all mature men, decide so easily to do this “investigation” in the manner that they did? If this question is asked from any common person from any part of Sri Lanka, it is quite certain that the common answer would be that “this is what they do all the time”.

Surely the hierarchy of the police are quite aware of this common practice, of harassment of the ordinary folk by their police throughout the country, year after year. They know that this is what has happened for over 200 years. Still, neither has a finger been moved to stop this nonsense, nor have the persons who hold authority over them, the parliamentarians, the Ministers, given the slightest thought to ask whether one can ever build a nation when the police are engaged in this kind of sheer silliness.

The next stage is even more shockingly trivial. The young men are taken to a safe place inside the Police Station itself and then they are severely beaten up. For what? To get them to confess and admit to something that they claim that they have never done. Now, according to the law of Sri Lanka, as contained in the CAT Act No. 22 of 1994, each of these policemen who directly or indirectly participated in this torturing, have committed a grave crime, deserving a punishment not less than 7 years rigorous imprisonment and Rupees 10,000 as fine.

Here, again, there is a stark incongruity. The alleged stealing of a few bags of paddy, even if these young men have done it (there is no proof of it at all), is only a petty crime. What the police officers have done according to the Sri Lankan statutes is a grave crime. Surely, if logic has any place in policing in Sri Lanka, these officers, their superiors, and their masters should see this incongruity.

But perhaps, because logic has nothing to do with all this, no one is able to see, that this is what sheer madness is. And as we have stated before, this madness is not something that affects the police occasionally, it happens all the time, in all the police stations, throughout the country.

In terms of supervising each of these police stations, there are two persons with socially important positions. One is called the Officer-in-charge of the police station (OIC) and the other is called the Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP). Officers who hold such ranks throughout the country see the kind of madness that is seen in this case, everyday. And they approve it as the proper function of policing. Again, we may ask why they have distanced themselves so much from reason and logic, let alone the law.

Even as the IGP has talked to the father, promising that he would do all that he can, there is no report at all about these police officers who have violated Sri Lanka’s law relating to torture and ill-treatment, arrest, and production before court. Only thing that has been done is to transfer these officers to some other police station. And we are expected to believe this is an ominous act of punishment. Again, if you go back to the earlier incident, three young men suspected of alleged petty theft are severely tortured but the policemen, who committed the graver crime of torture and ill treatment, are only transferred.

Even in this instance, we could ask what has the IGP done to the relevant ASP?

After all, it is the ASP who is the immediate supervisor of the Police Station. His functions are laid down in the departmental orders and these orders have also evolved over more than a century.

The fact is, no ASP has ever been taken to task for not doing the job that he is supposed to do, which is to supervise the police station. If, even in a small company, the supervisor fails to do his or her job, he or she would be sacked. But, if a senior police officer fails to do their job, there is no punishment.

Again if you go back to the original incident, alleged theft of a few bags of paddy leads to arrest, detention, torture, and disappearance. But when a senior police officer fails to do his job, there is no punishment.

What is the scale that is applied here about “right and wrong”? Surely, that scale is not usually applied in the rest of the society. It simply goes to show, what the society considers rational and what has come to be regarded as rational within police stations are indeed very different.

Now we can go into the ultimate consequence.

One of the young men, i.e. Gayashan, last seen being carried by police officers after they beat him, is now missing. The police officers claim that the young man, in that condition, fled, implying that he fled so fast they could not catch him. If the young man ran so fast, and the policemen in their boots ran fast behind him, surely there must be a lot of footprints around the area. A detective or even a police dog following the footprints could have surely found out something about what happened to this young man.

All this happened eight days ago, and the Sri Lankan police, even with the involvement of the Inspector General of Police, are unable to solve this rather small problem. And this same police are given the great task of protecting the whole nation?

Added to all this, the parents and relatives of Gayashan are taking all the precautions possible to protect his twin brother, because they are afraid that the police will catch hold of the twin brother and claim that they have found the missing Gayashan!

If that were to happen, it is likely the twin brother will also be beaten up, to force him to confess that he is Gayashan. Now this is the way local people have understood the police and the way the police mind works. As always, ordinary folk with their common sense understand the social absurdities that others refuse to see.

Again, we see an incongruity, bordering on lunacy. But those who hold authority do not want to open their eyes and see such a state of absurdity.

Now, this week, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Justice announced the appointment of many Committees, to look into all forms of human rights abuses in the country. These Committees are an addition to a large number of other commissions.

We are made to believe that these committees and commissions will bring us our deliverance.

Are we to merely see the same circus being performed again and again?

The answer lies not only in how the problem of the disappearance of this boy is resolved. It also lies in how the sheer irrationalities mentioned above will be addressed, or will remain unaddressed.

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Latest comments

  • 4

    These are the incidents that the HUMAN RIGHTS bodies focus in making assessments about the improvement of HR in the country wihtin the current adminsitration. So the rulers should focus on this more than anything else. Whatever JO men would have been singing against the current rulers, the situation have improved in mulitiple times today with no whitevanning yet started against the folks. The kind of missings occur in the country from that day on – however, we must not negelect searcing for the truth about the twin boy who is alleged to have dealt with robbing sacks of rice from a storage room in Hambantota area. However, Police may know about the truth of the incident more and need to set to the air for the clarity of the incident. I heard this boys twin brother saying that nothing has been heard by them for the last 7 days – hope not the young boy would have been killed by someone else in between. This country even if the war is over, we keep hearing the case of the kind of on a repeated mode.

    • 1

      According to Police, the boy has run away from the 3 boys initially were caught by police. Police records say, only two were taken to custody. May be those PCs in rural areas dont do the job properly – and the boy who left the place may be hidden somewhere by now or might have met with an accident. More likely him to have left the area. But his twin brother from colombo also confirms no single phone calls heard since his brother was disspeared, 7 days ago. All in all, police will take another 2 days to complete the investigations. Let s hope young boy may have not been killed but would be found live soon. All the best for boy s family after all the mother WHO may be going through all the torments these days.

    • 0

      Bravo Bravo…

      Current day POlice and their service have proved again that the days we were kept in dark is turning to better side.

      I am relieved by the appeareace of missing boy whose parents have been going through all the torments as telecasted on the videos.

      Jayawewa for all the GOOD GOVERNANCE MEN AND WOMEN .. who make every effort to perform well.

      Be all gods/powers with you. People make mistakes, but we have to correct them.

      Youth gone missing in Hambantota found
      2016-09-15 15:52:08 0 1344

      The youth reported to have gone missing while in the custody of the Hambantota police was found at a Temple in Dikwella today, Police said.

      Acting Media Spokesman Ajith Rohana said the youth was found after being informed by the monks of the temple.

      He would be produced in the Hambantota Magistrate’s Court after recording a statement.

      According to the police the youth has admitted to having escaped from the police custody. (Sanath Desmond)

      – See more at: http://www.dailymirror.lk/115882/Youth-gone-missing-in-Hambantota-found#sthash.MVPvu2kD.dpuf

  • 4

    In the old days, when a young man applied to join the police, a police officer in mufti visited the neighbourhood where he lived, and inquired from persons in the area about the applicant.
    If these inquiries were satisfactory, the applicant was required to produce three character certificates/testimonials from prominent citizens of the area like school principals, retired public servants, temple trustees etc.
    If all was satisfactory, he was called for interview with physical and mental assessment by a state medical officer.

    From the time of Sirimavo B, things changed.
    She empowered MPs to recruit young men and women to public service – and they recruited some of the thugs who worked for their elections to the police service.
    Some of these, by sheer seniority, entered the top rungs.

    In the sixties, young university graduates were directly recruited as ASPs.

    These are some of the causes of unfits/undesirables entering the police service.
    Many of these became ‘unofficial thugs/hitmen’ of politicians some of whom were themselves unfit to hold public office.

    It is difficult to change their behaviour.
    None have been punished for torture and deaths in police custody.
    This encourages further impunity.

  • 3

    Basil Fernando,

    This is what happens in most third world countries, and in some developed countries too.

    From top to bottom the society in a third world country such as Sri Lanka is corrupt morally and otherwise.

    Political leaders tolerate teachers who don’t teach properly in schools where they are paid by the state, but teach well in tuition classes.

    Policemen are no exception to this norm of corruption.

    There is no rule of law in many many aspects of life in such societies.

    Who will bell this big cat? Until then these societies will remain third world.

  • 0

    I am of the view that the police persons concerned should have been interdicted immediately (which is usually done in govt. depts.) and inquiries conducted. If the concerned are found guilty, punishment should be meted out accordingly. Further, if the offence requires that the offenders be charged in a court of law this should be done at the earliest. There should also be a deduction of salary for the period of interdiction. However, if the persons charged are found to be innocent they should be reinstated and paid in full for the period of the interdiction.

  • 0

    if he was last seen being carried by the policemen,then the prognosis is not good.They have beaten him to death.That is why he is missing.They must have dumped him somewhere difficult to find,the cops know all these kind of places.

    the boy looks slender and wispy.That is why the usual type of police beatings that the cops gave would have done him in.

    There is more to this than appears.Cops won’t take such a interest over paddy bags.Who got them to beat these boys and why.This should be investigated also and the cops should be arrested and remanded.then only one of them will cough out where the body is.

  • 1

    This “disappearance” is receiving media and political attention. This is the silver lining. Has the limit to police impunity been reached?

  • 0

    [Edited out]

    • 1


      [Edited out]

      Thanks for keeping it brief.

  • 0

    The boy disappeared by running away from police then fell into abandon well and drown. So this innocent police officers were commended for their bravery and given promotions and medals. Stop bull crapping. Buck stops with the top guy IGP so if he got a drop of decency he should resign. This police violence should be stopped, every police officer should be educated in proper way of policing. Use iron fist to clean the crooked corrupt, bribing taking and murdourous .Sri Lankan police it’s time.

  • 1

    So much for your analysis. Youth was found and you long story goes up in smoke. Best to wait for facts to be established before you go expressing unfounded insights!!

  • 1

    Basil F’do sang, trumpeted for his supper on full throttle on Gayashan’s disappearence………….accusing the police and showing his two cents worth of his knowledge on internal police matters & even wanted the ASP held responsible as if the ASP was in charge of the police cell.

    Now he has to uncork. We read above naked NGO aggression.
    One case of the OMP solved.

  • 1

    Basil Fernando:

    Didnn’t you become an Idiot ?

    G.G. Gayashan, the young man who was reported missing from Bandagiriya, surrendered to the Police today due to the intervention of a Buddhist priest in the area.

    According to the Police, Ambakolawawe Buddhika, a resident of the Dickwella Walukarama Temple and a confidante of the youth’s family, contacted DIG Ajith Rohana this morning informing him of the whereabouts of the young man. The priest claimed the youth had contacted him and sought refuge while also requesting that the priest intervene to resolve the matter. “I therefore contacted DIG Rohana,” the priest said.

    The youth then surrendered at Police Headquarters in Colombo, where he was arrested. He was later taken to Dickwella to be presented at the courts.

    DIG Ajith Rohana stressed that, despite various misleading reports, the police did not have a hand in the youth’s disappearance. “Some media outlets tried to insinuate that Gayashan had died at the hands of the Police, but this turned out to be false,” he said, adding that the media should therefore be more responsible and sensitive when reporting on such issues. “Media should gather all the information before reporting,” he said.

    He also admitted, however, that the Police officers from Hambantota committed an error by entering incorrect information regarding the incident. Disciplinary action has been taken to address this matter. DIG Rohana also refuted claims that the individual was physically harmed by the Police.

  • 1

    Dude he escaped and hid in a temple. Egg on your faces for slinging mud.

  • 0

    [Edited out]

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