Don’t bring discredit to the uniform you wear - Defence Secretary
Defence Secretary (Rtd) Major General Kamal Gunaratne said senior Police officers in charge of Provinces should be ashamed of wearing their uniforms if drug trafficking, extortion, underworld activities, illegal logging, operation of brothels, illegal sand mining and other illegal activities were taking place on a large scale in their respective divisions.
“You need to curb illegal activities that are increasing at an alarming rate without heeding forces that might influence you and also to protect the dignity of the uniform that you wear. No Police officer, from SDIGs, DIGs to OICs in the area, can wash their hands off as they are responsible for the increase in the rate of crimes in their areas,” he said while addressing SDIGs and DIGs representing all Provinces at a special meeting at the Defence Ministry.
“You are the people who know the pulse of the people. Therefore, you shoulder a bigger responsibility in protecting people’s lives,” he said, adding that while many Police officers are serving in a dignified manner, some are a disgrace to the entire Police Department.
He said that he had received letters from the public complaining of the inefficiency of some Policemen, including top Police officials, in curbing crimes and also of their involvement with criminals in those areas.
“There is no point in lodging complaints about drug peddlers to the Police as the next day those drug dealers, who were informed by the Police of our complaints, are threatening to destroy our families,” he said, quoting from letters that he had received from members of the public. He questioned whether the Police could gain any respect in such situations.
“If any of those top Police officers, who have had a hand in such crimes, are present, they should be ashamed of themselves. I have received many complaints that drug trafficking is carried out with the protection of some cops, during the curfew, and that drugs were distributed through motorcycles and three-wheelers and that young children were also being used for the purpose with the blessings of those corrupt cops. I have also received complaints about an OIC, who is attached to a Northern Province Police Station, who has taken a large sum of money from a criminal, with the support of another high ranking Police officer, to allow him to run his illegal businesses, freely,” he revealed.
Although the Defence Ministry, issuing a letter on 5 April had instructed Superintendents of Police to prepare reports on underworld criminals and drug traffickers in the respective Police divisions, they have failed to submit those reports to the Ministry, thus far. Maj. Gen. Gunaratne has instructed Acting IGP Chandana D. Wickremaratne to look into the matter. “If it took two-and-a-half months to implement, how could we bring the perpetrators to book,” he queried.
He stressed that when directives were issued by the Defence Ministry or the IGP, they were pertaining to matters related to national security.
Gunaratne said that Police officers were responsible for maintaining national security as they are the main contributors towards creating a fear-free environment for the people to live freely.
“From today onwards, you have to perform your duties properly, in a responsible manner. Let me know if any of you is not allowed to perform your duties. I request you to perform your duties to gain respect for the uniform that you wear and it is your responsibility not to leave room for any political force to harass people in your respective areas. The Senior Superintendents of Police and Assistant Superintendents of Police have a responsibility to look into these,” he said, adding that no Police officer, who works for the sake of gaining personal benefits, earns respect when he is being called a good boy by a politician.
He also said that senior Police officers should be held responsible if any form of crime, including theft, murder or drug trafficking, was taking place in the areas coming under their purview.
He said if there were 12 Police stations under DIGs, all 12 OICs should be accountable for the crimes that took place in those areas.
“You can inform me personally about officers who perform duties irresponsibly or to the IGP but those who make complaints should have clean records,” he said.
Meanwhile, he noted that tourists or families cannot enjoy their evenings at the Mount Lavinia and Panadura beaches due to drug addicts.
He also revealed about a failed attempt by a henchman of a notorious underworld criminal to fill a large swathe of a marshy land in the vicinity of Colombo.
“When inquired, the Police OIC of that area said he was unaware of this illegal landfilling. You can justify a Police officer saying that he couldn’t detect drugs hidden inside a flower basket or a pocket but how can he say that he was not aware of the filling of four-five acres of land,” Maj. Gen. Gunaratne queried.
He quoted a telephone call that he received about a ransom of Rs 5,000 being sought from a 60-year-old female street vendor in Kaduwela, and asked how one could talk about national security when innocent street vendors aged 60-70-years were unable to sell vegetables without paying a ransom.