The IGP’s dilemma | Daily News

The IGP’s dilemma

A new year’s drive launched by IGP Pujith Jayasundera to seize all illegal weapons in the country, no doubt, will be welcomed by all law abiding citizens of this land, who have been treated to chilling scenes of murder and bloodletting on their television sets, almost on a daily basis. The IGP has set a time frame of three months, beginning January 01, during which time he hopes to accomplish the task. Speaking at a new year’s function at Police Headquarters on Tuesday (January 01), the IGP said that while several killings had been reported during 2018, over 90% of the suspects involved in the killings had been arrested. However, he noted that despite the arrests made there is a large stock of illegal firearms in circulation. Therefore he said a special operation would be initiated to seize these illegal firearms and the police officers responsible for the detection would be handsomely rewarded. This is a salutary move and, no doubt, would act as an incentive to the police officers involved. After all, they will be on an extremely dangerous mission more often keeping their lives on the line. No wielder of an illegal weapon is going to surrender meekly.

Today, brazen killings take place almost on a daily basis, most of them drive-by shootings, Chicago style, but the law enforcement so far have not been up to the task of preventing such mayhem on our streets. Instead the public are left terrorized watching the gory aftermath of these killings on television. Most of the time innocent by-standers have been the victims of these shootings. One recalls the recent fatal shooting of a lady inmate of a vehicle who was driving home after dropping her child at school in Ja-ela in what was later proved to be a case of mistaken identity. It has come to a stage where ordinary law abiding citizens are living in trepidation not knowing when the hand of death would strike, with marauding gunmen on the loose.

Therefore drastic measures are called for to arrest the trend before things deteriorate further. What the law enforcement should do is treat the problem at its source. It goes without saying that the majority of the street shootings today are drug related. Among these, turf-wars between drug lords take centre stage. Gunning down of rival members of drug cartels have become common place. Members of these rival gangs have easy access to firearms which are in free circulation in the drug underworld. What should be done is to go after the ring leaders and ferret out the sources of the weapons. That should be the first step of the IGP in his drive to seize illegal firearms. After all, the Police Spokesman often mentions the names of notorious drug lords by their aliases. The real source of these weapons is the drug underworld. These are also used for contract killings.

Of course, the job before the IGP and his men is not going to be easy. Their efforts are bound to meet with resistance. The nexus between politicians and the drug underworld is only too well known to need elaboration. There are law enforcement officers too who are in the payroll of drug barons although the honest officers far outnumber this miniscule element in the police service. One recalls how a onetime Police Chief, no less, was an honoured guest at the birthday party of the daughter of a drug baron, at a five star hotel. Therefore, a concerted effort is call for on all sides to end the violence on our streets by dealing with the root cause of problem. President Sirisena too has resolved in the New Year to leave no stone unturned to eradicate the narcotic menace from the country. The problem of illegal firearms will naturally cease once the drug networks are busted.

The IGP, in his quest to seize illegal firearms, should not go the route of the military and offer amnesties. The military, from time to time in the past, had offered army deserters such amnesties. However the result shows the strategy to be a failure. Illegal firearm appear to be freely available, some of these even dating back to the second JVP uprising in 1989/90 when Ranajan Wijeratne freely provided weapons to left political parties and even the SLFP who were targets of the Deshapremi Janatha Viyaparaya, not to mention the weapons in the hands of the Government vigilantes.

It is not clear if these weapons were recalled and if not what has become of them. It is also well known that during the war years weapons were sold by the LTTE to criminal elements in the south. These too naturally will still be in circulation. It will, no doubt, be a herculean task for all these weapons to be seized, in the absence of an inventory.

The IGP also stated that he has set an example of how the Police, the Police service can be turned into a professional police force based on intelligence information. It is hoped that superior intelligence gathering will assist his men in tracing all the illegal firearms in this country and afford the citizens a peaceful and tranquil existence devoid of fear.


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