Priority for law and order
not to leave room for any policeman to engage in bribery and corruption,
the newly appointed Inspector General of Police, Jayantha Wickramaratne
says that no politician can influence or interfere with any inquiry or
any other matter relating to the police.
The former media spokesman of the Police, IGP Jayantha Wickramaratne
said that investigations to probe abductions and disappearances would
not be delayed at any stage and pledged to carry out the investigations
in a very transparent manner.
Pix: Chaminda Hittatiya
“The Police have a free hand and no one is allowed to interfere in
its work”, he told the Sunday Observer.
Q: As the new IGP what do you think your major challenges are?
A: I have to give the top priority for the prevailing security
situation and to maintain law and order to provide a peaceful
environment for the innocent civilians.
The LTTE activities are on the increase and there had been
unfortunate incidents where the civilians were the victims. Our priority
being mainly a law enforcement agency is to maintain law and order in
the country. This is our principal target.
My second priority is to concentrate on the basic welfare facilities
of the policemen. They are working under severe stress and they are the
only government servants who have to perform duties for long hours
without an adequate pay and have also to work under difficult
For example, they are working for more than 12 hours in bunkers,
doing traffic duties under hot sun while not getting additional
Third is there are lots of educated police officers such as under
graduates and graduates as well among the lower ranks of the police
force. I shall give due recognition for their educational qualifications
and provide whatever assistance to them to enhance their knowledge.
I am hoping to get additional funds from foreign donor agencies like
SIDA to provide them training courses on human rights and to improve
their knowledge on fingerprint technique, investigating procedures and
in other specialised fields.
I also intend to solve the housing problem, which affects them very
much. Though it needs a huge capital investment, I hope to solve their
housing and official quarters problem on an area basis.
The other priority is to further expand the strength of the Police
force. It is a very essential requirement as we are to take in some
areas which were liberated by the military.
We have to be set up new police stations in those areas and we need
more manpower. They should be given specialised training on special
search operations to ensure the security of vital installations and also
to strengthen VVIP security. Therefore, we need lots of police officers.
Q: Do you see any particular shortcomings in the present
system within the Police force?
A: Whatever the shortcomings we have observed, have been
highlighted in my answer. Such shortcoming have to be addressed step by
step, I believe.
Q: No doubt the image of the Police is fast deteriorating.
What are your plans on the cards for image-building?
A: Yes. After assuming duties I have issued a circular to give
affect to Presidential Commendations for the Police officers who have
successfully conducted raids on LTTE hide-outs and made excellent
detections. Very recently the Police have been able to recover 300 kgs
of deadly explosives and this quantity is more than what was used for
the Central Bank bomb explosion.
Our police officers who made such detections have to be given special
Presidential commendations especially to encourage, motivate and also to
set as an example to the others.
When they received such impressive commendations they will be
entitled to more ‘marks’ and more recognition for their promotions. They
will be eligible for scholarships as well. By doing this I want to
encourage my officers to go for more detections.
Q: That is of course to encourage them, but what are the steps
to build the image of the Police?
A: These steps will be the end-results of the image buildings.
When the police officers are treated well and given due respect, they
will not surely resort to bribes, which are mere short-term financial
But, if they can work hard and show their talents they can earn more.
They need to be honest too. Then they can derive long term benefits.
Ultimately all these will lead to a better image of the Police force.
Q: After the recent incident of attacking university bhikkus
at a demonstration, the President has ordered not to deploy riot squads
when there are protests staged by the clergy and the university
students. But if they turn violent how are you going to deal with them?
A: Really what the President told us were not to use tear gas
and water canons when the university students and monks are staging
demonstrations. He has also asked us not to harass them as they have
been misled. We have to understand the mentality of these youngsters.
The reality is that they have been used by various politicians to fulfil
What we plan to do is to send a few of their representatives to meet
the relevant authorities. For example, the university students can meet
the UGC Chairman instead of taking law into their hands. But the police
always have to think of minimising the inconvenience caused to the
public in such occasions.
Q: According to the reports of the Commission of Bribery and
Corruption the police officers have been ranked No. 1 for taking bribes!
Why do you think they indulge in this?
A: The fact is that unlike other State officers, the Police
officers have lots of involvements with the people. So they have more
chances for this. On the other hand, the person who is offering a bribe
to a Police Officer is also responsible for this illegal act.
However, the Police Department will soon launch a programme to
educate the public on this matter. The Commissioner of Bribery and
Corruption will also be instructed to further net those police officers
who take bribes.
I will take stern actions against those police officers and no one
will be allowed to escape. Neither my high officials nor do I tolerate
those who are up to such mischief. We want the Police to be an
Q: Is that because they are getting a poor salary compared to
other forces? If so, what are the steps that you propose to give them a
A: This is an issue to which I cannot give you an exact answer
and I alone cannot take any decision in this regard. In the meantime, we
have to understand the financial situation of the country. It is our
duty to go through some sort of hardships and to contribute our lot to
this struggle to defeat terrorism.
When a country is on a war-footing and spending millions and the
millions of money to prosecute the war for the sake of the future of the
people and territorial integrity of the country, we have to undergo some
sort of difficulties.
In such a situation, I cannot pressurise the government for a salary
hike, but I am considering some sort of other means to provide financial
assistance to my men. The Department of Police has other ‘reward
schemes’ where the officers who are hard-working can get extra financial
Half of the fines from the cases that they filed in Courts will go to
the Police Reward Fund and we are giving huge amounts of money as
rewards to the police officers who do good detections.
The rationale behind such rewards is to give them some sort of
financial assistance as well as to dissuade them from indulging in
illegal activities like taking bribes. However, I am planning to
increase the number of financial rewards to prevent them from resorting
Q: But do you agree that they are getting a poor salary and
that has influenced them to take bribes?
A: Compared to other government servants, their salaries are
not so impressive and also not upto the required level. This is the
problem. But that does not mean that they should take bribes. What I
want them to realise is that those police officers who can work hard can
get more money.
Q: Most of the senior police officers are not satisfied with
the present promotional structure and some have sought legal assistance
too. What is your comment?
A: Yes. That was the situation we were facing earlier. Before
his retirement, the former IGP, Victor Perera had sorted out most of
these problems. Even some of the court cases had been settled with the
blessings of parties concerned.
We have three organisations of police personnel to tackle the problem
of promotions. We have to have a frequent dialogue with these
Associations to sort out their problems. I believe that lack of dialogue
will lead to various unpleasant situations.
Q: Abductions and disappearances are still happening and
people are in fear. What are the steps taken to bring the culprits to
A: No one can say that the Police is not conducting
investigations into these cases. We have commenced investigations into
almost all the complaints and the Police did not delay investigations at
any stage. The most important factor is that we have done these
investigations in a very transparent manner.
In some cases we have apprehended the culprits who were involved in
abductions and killings. One example is Sivaram’s case. There we had
conducted investigations and arrested the suspects. They are now in
The major lapse is that the police do not get enough evidence to go
ahead with investigations. We need the support of the parties concerned
including the victims. When victims refuse to give statements or
reluctant to come out with the truth, the Police cannot go beyond the
truth. So what we do is we are always requesting all the affected
parties to come to the Police and provide whatever information they have
People cannot expect the outcome of the investigations overnight.
Instead of making baseless allegations, I request the public, to
cooperate with the Police.
I can tell with responsibility that no one is pressurising the Police
with regard to these cases and we are given a free hand to conduct these
investigations. In some instances, two to three parties are involved in
For example, the so-called white van cases. The Media had been
attacking me. Why I mentioned about white vans was that the politicians,
the public and especially the media are talking about white vans
But what I have to say is that up to date there is no evidence with
regard to any specific vehicle involved in. Making allegations that the
police is incompetent, police is partial is baseless.
It is our duty to get the assistance from the media to solve these
cases. We have been given lots of assistance by the media to solve
crimes. They are our friends. They have been working with us for the
last several decades throughout the 141 years of the history of he
Q: Attacking the media is now a frequent occurrence in the
country. As the former media spokesman how do you think you can do
justice to your friends in the media?
A: When you talk about attacks, can you cite a single incident
where the Police have not commenced investigations? I want media people
to say whether the police have acted partially or suppressed the
evidence or whether the police have totally rejected conducting
investigations. In almost all the instances, I can say with great
responsibility the police have commenced investigations but we have not
yet produced results in respect of some cases.
I strongly believe that no media personnel can be assaulted by any
group or any person. All citizens have equal rights. It is the
responsibility of the Police to provide protection to everybody
including the media.
But in some instances the media has to cooperate with us. Meantime,
the media cannot accuse the Police without a specific issue or evidence.
The other fact is that Sri Lanka Police is not 100 percent equipped like
the Scotland Yard Police and we lack 100 percent trained officers like
them. But I think that with these limited facilities and resources we
have done and are doing our duty at a very satisfactory level.
Q: What is the progress in probing into these cases?
A: Investigations are going on and I cannot reveal all the
details about these investigations to the media but what I can say is
that we have not suppressed any of these investigations. The public can
help us by providing more information. We are going ahead with our
investigations to mete out justice.
Q: People say that the police force has been politicised. How
do you view this allegation and do you think that you can make the
police a more independent institution free of political interference?
A: I deny this allegation. Political influence has been
totally eradicated from the Police now as we are working under the
National Police Commission, which was constituted under the 17th
Amendment. So the Police is enjoying total independence and we have
freedom to conduct free and fair elections. But people are free to go
before the National Police Commission or the Human Rights Commission if
they have any allegation to make.
Q: There were occasions where the former IGPs were compelled
to listen to ‘politicians’ and to dance to their tune. How do you escape
A: You have to ask that question from the former IGPs. I am
not in a position to answer it. I am working very closely with the
politicians and I have some sort of regard to them because they are the
representatives of the public. They come to us on behalf of the people
and in those instances we have to listen to them but that does not mean
that they can interfere with the Police.
We are government servants and we are answerable to them. The Police
have a free hand and no one is allowed to interfere with our work.
Q: The security of the City of Colombo is highly threatened
due to the continuous LTTE bomb explosions targeting the innocent
civilians. Do you see any lapses on the part of your officers and what
are your new strategies to strengthen the security in the city to
prevent such bomb explosions?
A: Yes, the security in the Western province will be fully
ensured during the SAARC conference. According to the present situation,
we have drawn our special attention to prevent any LTTE terrorist
activity in the province.
Security personnel from the three forces and the Police will be
deployed to ensure the security. We have designed a strong security
network, especially during the days of the SARRC conference and we also
need the public support.
Q: Do you think that there is a need to deploy Indian security
forces for the SARRC? Do you think your officers are well trained to
provide security for this international conference with all the security
A: Who said that India is going to provide security for the
SARRC? These are misleading statements. I am in charge of the SARRC
security arrangements and we are providing security for the heads of
States from eight countries and all other delegates. At the moment the
police personnel are undergoing special training for this.
Who is Hapuarachchilage Jayantha Shantha Kumara Wickramaratne?
When his colleagues at the Thurstan College were recruited to the
Police he too wanted to become a cop. The studious young boy planned his
future through higher education and he had set his goals accordingly.
Jayantha travelled all the way from Gampaha to Thurstan College,
Colombo and later entered the University of Sri Jayewardenepura in 1968.
There were various job opportunities for him but he was determined to
become a top police brass from his young days. He obtained a degree in
Public Administration and joined the Police as an Assistant
Superintendent of Police in 1974.
Having served within the four corners of the country, he later became
the DIG, Narcotics and also the Police Media Spokesman.
“I believe in Buddhism and I am a practising Buddhist”, says the new
IGP Jayantha Wickramaratne who believes that the teachings of Buddha
have helped him to reach the top by becoming the 31st IGP of Sri Lanka.
The most respected two souls in his life are his parents whom guided
him properly. Managing their meagre monthly salary his parents, who were
public servants gave the two boys every comfort within their reach. “My
parents are really great“ he says.
Dreaming to make the police service an honourable one, the IGP is
happy that he joined the Police and he has been able to contribute to
bring justice to the country.
With no idea of stepping into politics, he dreams a country, free of
crimes. “I want to make men more disciplined during my tenure”. That is
His thrust for updating his knowledge will not end till he dies.
After yet another hectic day the IGP Wickramaratne will find peace in
mind when he reads a book.
“I read lots of books not only for fun but also to keep in touch with
the world”, he says.Being a proud father of a son and a daughter, the
IGP, Jayantha Wickramaratne says his whole world is his family”.
* When the police officers are treated well and given their due
respect they will not resort to take bribes.
* The President instructed us not to harass University students and
clergy who stage demonstrations.
* The salaries of the Policemen are not impressive.
* Department of Police is free of political influences.
* None can attack the media personnel.
* Security of the Western Province will be fully strengthened during
the SAARC Conference.
* Torture completely ruled out.
* Police will soon raid all illegal firearms.