The Police in post-conflict Sri
Needless to say, the
Police too have played a very vital role in putting an end to
the LTTE and in bringing back to Sri Lanka a degree of internal
stability. They too have paid a heavy price in life and limb in
the historic undertaking of freeing this country from terror and
it is only proper that we recollect these crucial services the
Police have selflessly rendered over the years not only on
Police Day but everyday, since normalcy would not be possible
without the Police being constantly around.
In the task of maintaining law and order in the North-East,
the Police stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the Security Forces
of this country. In fact, some of the earliest killings of the
LTTE in the North-East were those of Police personnel who were
out there, manfully doing their duty. In the early years of the
conflict, there were times when sections of the Police came in
for criticism on some issues, but over the last few years
leading to the defeat of the LTTE, it became very evident that
the Sri Lankan Police had reached a level of eminence in
fostering and upholding law and order. In other words, they had
acquired a degree of professionalism which would have been the
envy of many law enforcers around the world.
However, a distinguishing feature of the Police force is that
it has a positive presence among the people and maintains
amicable links always with a country’s civilian public. In other
words, theoretically, the Police are a people-friendly arm of
This vital image the Lankan Police have been able to
maintain, largely, over the past few years, although there have
been times when some sections among the Police have erred badly.
For instance, the recent court verdict on the killing of two
youths in Angulana, reminded us that not all Police personnel
are above reproach. Allegations of corruption are also made by
the public against some elements in the Police.
Generally speaking, however, it is felt that the Police are
putting their shoulders to the wheel of public duty and are
delivering on their obligations towards the people. It is vital
that the Police are viewed in a balanced manner. If there are
some bad eggs among the Police, these are few in number, while
the majority of Police personnel are above board on the issue of
integrity and professional capability. Nevertheless, there are
no sections of our polity that are completely free of erring
elements. Singling out the Police for constant castigation on
issues such as corruption, we believe, is most unfair.
While efforts must continue to render the Police completely
free of blemishes, the Force must gear up to playing an
increasingly significant role in post-conflict Sri Lanka.
Already some positive trends are noticeable within the Police in
the once conflict-hit regions of the country. We believe the
majority Tamil-speaking areas must be policed increasingly by
Tamil-speaking personnel and it is a matter for some
satisfaction that this is already happening. It was noticeable
on a visit some journalists undertook to the Trincomalee
district a couple of months back that the majority of Police
personnel on the streets were Tamil-speaking.
This is a change for the better. If the place of the Police
is the public, then, the majority of Police personnel in the
once conflict-affected areas need to be Tamil-speaking to enable
them to do justice to public grievances. We do not need special
commissions and bodies of experts to highlight these needs of
post-conflict Sri Lanka. The application of some common sense
would enable the authorities to unravel must be done.
It should be plain to see that in those areas of the country
where we have an ethnically mixed population or where we have a
majority of Tamil-speakers it would be extremely helpful if we
could deploy Police personnel with a bilingual or even a
tri-lingual capability. It should be remembered that language
barriers between the public and law enforcers played a
significant role in precipitating the conflict decades ago.
These lessons should not be glossed over.
While it is up to the proposed PSC to come out with an
acceptable solution to the conflict, we cannot help but reflect
that a policy of posting Police personnel with the relevant
language capability to the once conflict-hit areas would not
make it absolutely necessary to contemplate any special Police
powers for the majority Tamil-speaking regions, since there
would be easy communication between the public and the Police.