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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2958

Lending the Police Service for a Sacrificial Offering.

By Tassie Seneviratne

After letting down the people of this country by the gross incompetence on the part of the government, it is now over reacting and harassing the people.

Houses are searched under Emergency Regulations (ER) with no regard to the laws governing these searches. True, the ER empower the security forces to search houses without search warrants. But, this does not give them the freedom of the wild ass. They have to abide by the laws governing search of houses. ER have not removed such laws.

People are being arrested for possessing a sword or knife in the house – not in any public place. There is no law prohibiting such possession, unless there is reasonable suspicion of criminal use. Possession of a sword in the house for one’s protection from robbers, poisonous serpents, stray dogs etc. has been the culture of this country from time immemorial. With the government’s failure to protect the people in the face of specific warnings of imminent threats of mass destruction to person and property, it is most reasonable that the people should protect themselves. The security forces are blind to see the difference between self defence and aggression. They have got their work all topsy-turvy.

On receiving warnings of the imminent threats, the only persons the government protected were, the President, Prime Minister, cabinet ministers and parliamentarians, and the positions they hold - ironically, the very menace that should be gone.

A case in point is a search carried out by the army, in a house in Minuangoda. After ransacking the entire house, where the chief occupants were away and the caretaker was in charge, they only found a rusty old sword in the house and a sword and a kitchen knife in the possession of the caretaker. The caretaker has been taken to custody with the two swords and the knife, and produced at the Minuangoda Police Station. The Minuangoda Police is to produce him in the magistrate’s court on a ‘B Report’ under section 449 of the Penal Code which reads thus: “Whoever is found having in his possession without lawful excuse, the proof of which lies on him, any instrument of house-breaking, or armed with any dangerous or offensive weapon with intent to commit any unlawful act, shall be punished with -----------.” Taking the best of facts available to the police, none of the ingredients that make the possession an offence, are present in this case. It would be a different scenario if a house or person is found in possession of a collection of swords or knives, or for that matter any weapons that would give rise to suspicion that there is preparation for aggression.

A relative of the owner of this house had been present during the search and he had asked for a document confirming the search and listing the items taken to custody. The army personnel had declined his request. This is in spite of clear orders that a document should be given confirming the search and items taken to custody. – A gross violation of Fundamental Rights.

In a survey I have done, I have been reliably informed that police officers too, including officers of the STF, do not issue documents in respect of searchers and items taken to custody! It is shocking that officers of the elite STF have not been properly briefed in this regard. This is widespread violation of Fundamental Rights. It also gives ample opportunity to the security forces and police for corruption and crime with impunity. The victims dare not complain for fear of reprisals.

Due to the rash action by the army personnel in the Minuangoda case, a stigma has been cast on the caretaker and his family as well and they feel exposed to the elements. As for the chief occupants, they have family members settled in Japan who are prepared to sponsor them, and with their qualifications Japan will receive them with open arms. They are seriously considering this option. A brain-drain out of our country is looming once again.

On 8th May 2019, plaint was filed in the magistrate’s court of Minuangoda, against the caretaker in the above mentioned case, under section 449 of the Penal Code as enumerated above. He was cajoled to plead guilty stating that it was not a serious charge, and was fined Rs. 5000/=. The lawyer who was paid an exorbitant amount to obtain bail in the first instance, charged another Rs. 2000/= for pleading “guilty”. The caretaker does not stay in the house anymore. The owners of the house are to cut short their visit to Japan and return home to face this undeserved harassment. This is not a stray case, but the order of the day throughout the country.

The Muslim factor ----- - -*******

The Police Service is thus being deliberately and systematically exploited by successive governments, and misused, resulting in it being perceived as a Gestapo. The police hierarchy appears to be only too willing to lend the Police Service for this sacrificial offering.

The writer is a Retired Senior Superintendent of Police

- Asian Tribune -

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