Eliminating Vice | Daily News


Eliminating Vice

That one in 40 Sri Lankans are drug addicts must surely come as disturbing news to many, particularly in a country where the four great religions are assiduously practiced and where each day begins with religious observances broadcast over radio and television and sermons delivered by religious leaders.

According to Western Province Senior DIG Deshabandu Tennakoon there are 533,883 drug addicts in the country, out of which over 25,000 are from the Western Province. Speaking at a workshop in Colombo on Saturday he said they had also discovered that 136 prisoners ran their drug business from behind bars. There are 123 persons connected to the narcotic business out on bail and running their business without let or hindrance while appearing in Courts when their cases are called, only to be back in business after leaving Courts.

The all-out war against the drug business launched by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is showing results. If not for this close monitoring of suspects and a clamp down on the narcotics business such statistics, as revealed by the Senior DIG, would have not even have been made public.

The arrest of Police Narcotic Bureau sleuths and a host of prison officers, jailers aiding and abetting drug lords too has certainly helped to blow the lid off big time drug running and the narcotics network. There should not be any let up and the successful operation should be taken to its logical conclusion until the narcotics business is weeded out from this country. The laws too should be tightened and no loophole left for the kingpins to escape. If the offenders are allowed bail and free to carry out their business, the whole operation would be meaningless. Therefore drug running should be made a non-bailable offence and those arrested dealt with severely under the law.

The extent to which the narcotics business has grown in the country could be gauged from the identity of the collaborators in high places and law enforcement itself. The involvement of individuals from the Government Analyst’s Department and high ranking prison officials tell a tale. There could be other more stunning revelations as the full extent of the drug business continues to unravel.

The drugs trade is chiefly responsible for the exponential growth of the underworld in this country. A majority of the killings takes place as a result of drug rivalry. It is in this context that the commitment shown by Defence Secretary Major General (Rtd.) Kamal Gunaratne to totally root out the underworld and extortion rackets together with the narcotics trade should be lauded.

Speaking at an event in Anuradhapura Major General Gunaratne vowed to completely annihilate the underworld menace before long making the country a free place to live for the ordinary peace loving public to go about their business without dread.

According to Senior DIG Tennakoon there are at least 25 criminal gangs operating in the Western Province alone and 400 gangsters terrorizing the public. Now that their identities are known there is nothing to stop the police from going after these fiends in earnest. With the STF entrusted with the task of going after the underworld there is hope that the operation would be brought to a successful conclusion. When President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was Defence Secretary, a similar operation was successfully carried out in the Colombo city that saw a drastic drop in organised crime.

What is needed now is a similar commitment. During the past week two notorious underworld leaders died at the hands of the police while trying to resists arrest which alone goes to show the dangerous nature of the mission and the calibre of the offenders which only an outfit such the STF will be equal to. The DIG has also sought the assistance of the public in their quest to liquidate the underworld.

True, the public will not want to risk their necks. But on the other hand if the law enforcement displays an all-out commitment to fight the underworld there may be public spirited individuals who will come forward to assist the police in this mission.

Among the key pledges of President Rajapaksa before assuming office was making the country a safe place for all its citizens and the strict implementation of the law. The President has made good his word on this score, as one can see from the rapid steps taken to dismantle the narcotics network and the war against the underworld that is being carried out in all earnest. The country also appears to be secure from the terrorist/extremist threat with a well briefed and efficient Intelligence Service equal to the task.

Peace and an atmosphere free of fear and tension is vital if the full potential of people is to be realized. It appears that this atmosphere is today being created in this country with the measures taken to eliminate the sources of fear and terror.

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