Last Wednesday Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena told Parliament that a total of 62 shootings had been done by underworld gangs and 32 individuals have been killed while 37 have received injuries.
In addition to those statistics, the Prime Minister stated that a total of seven incidents of killing and threatening police officers who tried to control criminal gangs were reported within this year. In one such incident, a Police officer who nabbed a leading underworld figure was gunned down by his associates in the South. The entire country is being affected due to various shooting incidents that take place regularly all over the country.
Public security Minister Tiran Alles described in Parliament about the steps that have been taken to control the situation. He stated that 67 criminals had been arrested and two had died while fighting with the Police. Some criminals plan crimes and do illicit drug business while in prison and there are around 30 criminals who are operating from foreign countries. The Minister stated that steps have been taken to address the issue but all details cannot be revealed.
Unfortunately, no media has analyzed the issue in a way that helps the ordinary people who do not have any control over the issue. It is very important for the people and the decision makers to understand the issue before solving it. Such an analysis will be useful for everyone in order to solve the issue while protecting themselves. But the analysis should not be biased in order to find practical solutions.
First of all we should understand that nothing remains without a good demand. If the demand is not there, there will not be a supply. We can clearly see that a lot of ordinary people had obtained the `services’ of various criminals and criminal gangs attached to underworld gangs. The common popular belief is that it is the politicians who groom them and obtain their services but when we carefully study case by case, we can discern that there are a lot of individuals who do not have any connection whatsoever to any politician, but they had obtained the service of underworld shooters to take revenge from their relations, friends, ex-wives, ex-husbands, ex-girlfriends, ex-boyfriends etc.
Therefore, it is indisputable that there is a demand from the common society for those criminals and their activities. This section of the society is also responsible for giving them various `contracts’. Thus there is a new option for those who need to take revenge from another person or group. That is, giving a `contract’ to a criminal. Earlier it was stabbing or throwing acid on their own. Now it has evolved to the point where they can hire an underworld gang member to do the dirty deed on their behalf, possibly with no discernible link back to them.
There is another very important factor which contributes not only for crimes but also to road traffic accidents. Only a handful of families in Sri Lanka live their lives in a safe and comfortable way. They do this not because they are rich or powerful. It is because they are methodical. Therefore having common sense and mindfulness can save a person’s life from a bullet that is aimed at someone else.
When analysing various shooting incidents, only a few had taken place at homes, shops, salons etc and all the other shooting incidents had taken place at night or in late evening on the roadsides, in public places etc.
It is the sole responsibility of the housewives and all the others in the family to check what they need for the day or for the next day and inform the breadwinner of the family or the person who goes to the shop and buy those items. Then he/she can go to the shop and buy those items before 6.00 pm or before the sun goes down and darkness settles in.
This can save the precious life of that specific person. But it seems 99.99 percent of households here in Sri Lanka have extremely selfish, ignorant and rude family members who do not care about the safety of the breadwinner or any other person who helps the household. They think about the things they want for the next day only after having dinner or before going to sleep at night and not before that.
This does not mean at all that it is the victimized ordinary people who are responsible or that the law enforcement authorities do not need to control criminals and crimes in the country. The Government cannot tell the housewife to tell her husband what she needs for the next day before 5 pm. The entire argument is not about that. The bottom line is if anyone dies from a gunshot fired at someone else, there are certain factors that were under the control of the victim and his/her loved ones.
When the main cause is social destruction, ordinary citizens, law enforcement authorities or the Government cannot solve it in a matter of days or weeks no matter how hard they try. Only the death penalty will do, though it has not been carried out in Sri Lanka since 1976.