A correct move | Daily News

A correct move

The police crackdown on the Aava gang and other criminal outfits in Jaffna is to be welcomed. In our main story in yesterday’s edition Jaffna Senior DIG Roshan Fernando was quoted as saying that a special operation was launched by Jaffna police to arrest suspects involved with the Aava gang and other gang activities.

The police, according to him, had searched 21 houses so far and arrested three Aava gang members. However the Senior DIG said their operations were carried out in a manner that would not harass or inconvenience the law abiding civil population. Although the police have stepped up operations to combat the threat emanating from Aava and other gangs, these measures were solely targeted at apprehending those who commit violence and not directed at disrupting the lives of the people.

True, there are sporadic acts of violence reported from the North from time to time and the onus is on the police to curb such acts and bring to book the suspects. We say this because the police in the North are sometimes unfairly blamed for being slow to act in such situations, particularly by the Joint Opposition which attributes this alleged leniency to the Government’s ‘deference’ shown towards Tamil politicians in the North. There are also fantastic claims made that the Government is going slow on the law enforcement front in the North due to its truck with the Tamil Diaspora.

It is nearly ten years since the conclusion of the war and although peace prevails in the former theatre of conflict the region by no means is immune from violence and crime just like any other part of the country. This truism has escaped the thinking of the likes of Wimal Weerawansa and Udaya Gammanpila who still consider the North as distinct from the rest of the country that needs special policing and different treatment. It is as if they are waiting in eager anticipation for some act of violence to occur in the North to jump to the conclusion of an “LTTE revival” and compare the situation with the Rajapaksa era where, according to them, everything was hunky dory. Ditto for certain members of the Bhikku community who are quick to point to the situation then and now in accusing the Government of turning a blind eye to the alleged “re-emergence of the Tigers”.

These elements who are nurtured on a heavy dose of nationalism, alas, fail to comprehend that criminal activity in the North prevailed even before the birth of the LTTE and is a common phenomenon all over the country. Besides, there is no proof so far unearthed to suggest that Aava and other gangs operating in the North are part of any LTTE buildup. In fact, the Police have uncovered evidence showing that the Aava gang had been inspired by South Indian action movies that are beamed to the North via satellite TV from across the Palk Strait.

Whatever the reasons, it is high time that the police went into action to curb the activities of these gangs. The civil population in the North deserves to live in peace after the harrowing ordeals they were made to endure for 30 years. They can well do without criminal gangs in their midst to upset their existence. There is also a need to draw in the North into the mainstream of things in alignment with the South. Law and Order could be one such component. We say this because the folk in the South still seem to view that part of the country with blinkers, perhaps due to the vast gulf that existed between the communities during the war years where more or less every Tamil was branded as a “Kotiya” (Tiger). Perhaps it is this alienation that still manifests itself when criminal acts that are commonplace in the South also take place in the North.

For instance, when a policeman is manhandled by some gang in the South there is hardly any outcry among the Southern population quite in contrast to when similar incidents occur in the North. Then all hell breaks loose, with pro-Rajapaksa media too joining in the bandwagon to portray the government as supine and bending to the wishes of pro-LTTE politicians in the North.

This is the reason why those in the JO are able to exploit these feelings for political advantage. Hence, every effort should be made at normalizing such divisive sentiments. We often read and witness on TV special programmes and events launched by the police in the North with the enthusiastic participation of the civil population similar to that in the South. This, needless to say, will bring the citizens closer to the Law Enforcement agencies that would go a long way in facilitating the work of the police in the North while also resonating with the folk in the South.

It would also obviate the need for the Army to take over anti-crime operations in the North as suggested by the Army, which will only serve towards reopening old wounds. Civilian administration must prevail there at all times.


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