Jaffna is in the throes of terror by the sword swinging Ava Group. Some say it is the police who run the campaign of terror, giving drugs and money to young men to do robberies on their behalf. Another band of citizens discussing crime allude to large sums of gold being sent south by policemen. Others say they went to the police station to report an Ava Group crime and beat a hasty retreat upon seeing the same men they went to lodge a complaint against, chatting to the policemen at the police station.
However, there is little that is proven and much of it is hearsay. Yet, because the police have been seen by identifiable witnesses not interfering during daylight robberies and assaults by the Ava Group, these stories are all believed although we do not really know if the non-intervention was because of fear or collusion on the part of the police.
The IGP on viral videos assaulting his own Police Department staff member for not attending his bajan at police headquarters and not being punished despite the video evidence, strains police credibility as guardians of law and order.
Chief of Defence Staff Ravindra Wijegunaratne, now being on bail as a suspected accessory in the murder of 11 Tamils, makes our faith in law and order worse. That is because the same man could have been jailed long ago for assaulting a reporter in Galle before cameras but was not touched. These incidents show the importance of immediate punitive action and the fallout from immunity.
This crime wave is a major issue confronting the police and our law and order machinery, and it questions their integrity. If the police take no action, the Police Commission needs to step it.
As we wondered about all these things, on 29 Nov., in the quiet and peaceful neighborhood of the Nallur Kandasamy Temple, in a by-lane down Wyman Road, some vehicles were parked for the night. Then early that morning the vehicles, trishaws both, were set on fire by unknown hands. A fuel had been used to accelerate ignition.
Some private rivalry, we all said dismissing the matter from our minds. The absence of the use of swords, the hallmark of the Ava thugs, helped ease our minds. Until today that is.
What changed? This morning, 8 Dec., the incident was repeated in Kopay. The modus operandi was exactly the same in every respect. This time it was a van and a trishaw.
The difference this time is that there is no peace. Has the Ava Group moved into new territory? New crimes? Whether Ava or a new group, the Police Commission needs to get engaged. “If we cannot trust the police,” said a Jaffna resident, “we are better off without the police. For they too are criminals.”
Responded another resident, “The Police Commission needs to work on restoring trust with the public in an era where parliamentarians use knives and chili powder on each other, and go unpunished.” (By Special Correspondent)