Crime blown out of proportion
There is nothing new in notorious criminals and
those in the underworld taking cover under unscrupulous politicians of
various hues. This sub culture was a sequel to the open economy and the
preferential voting system introduced in 1978.
The open market economy, by the JR regime from 1977 induced most
people to worship the god of mammon to lead a superior lifestyle as
evidenced by the unprecedented volume of imported luxury items that
flooded the market. This no doubt gave rise to underworld characters to
resort to anything in their insatiable craving for wealth.
The preferential voting system on district basis, under the 1978
Constitution prompted many a politician from the same party to wage a
do-or-die battle for preferential votes. This gave free rein for thugs
and underworld goons to chase after politicians who more often than not
displayed their might through the bullet, rather than the ballot.
An untold number of UNP politicians during the 1977-1994 regimes
fostered this new type of culture, thereby promoting thugs and shady
characters to play an active role in their election campaigns.
Thereafter, this trend developed in to a gruesome situation where it
became increasingly difficult for honest politicians to engage in active
It is heartening to note that Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa
has taken the bull by its horns to eradicate this menace and banish the
underworld forever. He has directed police officers not to cow down to
political pressure from whatever quarters and carry out their duties
fearlessly. He has given stern instructions to the police not to adduce
political reasons as an excuse and avoid apprehending such suspects.
Following instructions from President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Defence
Secretary has wowed to come down hard on police officers who fail to
take action against criminals and other underworld characters. In a bid
to end crime, the President has instructed law-enforcement officers to
deal firmly with such miscreants.
It is gratifying to note that there has been a marked improvement in
apprehending underworld gangs during the past few years. Nevertheless,
there has been an increase in the number of rape and child abuse cases.
If one were to take a closer look at most of these incidents, it is
evident that such abuse had taken place mainly due to the parents'
It has been found that in most cases, the accused in child abuse and
rape cases had been either their close family members or guardians. This
is a situation where the police could do precious little as those who
had been entrusted to look after the children had abused them.
The Government has spared no pains to eliminate the underworld and
end crime. It is deplorable that the Opposition is attempting to gain
undue political advantage out of a pathetic situation. It was only
recently that a UNP Parliamentarian in the South accompanied a rapist to
the police station.
Unlike in years gone by, today most of the crime and rape cases are
highlighted in the media in a sensational manner by certain newspapers,
television and radio stations in a bid to attract the public to their
media institutions. Of late, the police have uncovered most of these
cases and taken quick action in this regard. In this scenario, one could
run away with the idea that that there is a surge in crime.
The President has called for the setting up of new police stations
and checkpoints to combat criminal activities countrywide. He has
instructed the Inspector General of Police, N. K. Illangakoon to submit
a report on the locations of the new police stations and checkpoints.
The report will be studied by a committee appointed by the Defence
Ministry and measures will be taken on its recommendations.
The increasing crime trend, population density and several other
criteria will be taken into account when setting up new police stations.
This could be an effective mode to crack down on criminal elements.
The Government, in its ambitious drive to combat the illicit drug
trade has succeeded to a great extent in checking drug abuse with the
assistance of law enforcement agencies.
The intensified crackdown on the drug mafia on the directive of the
Defence Secretary has put paid to the local drug peddling network,
according to the Police Narcotics Bureau and National Dangerous Drugs
Control Board (NDDCB).
The police have arrested over 20,000 suspects for drug-related
offences during the past six months.
The credit for this should go to the Sri Lanka Customs and police for
systematically dismantling the organised drug network in the country.
Consequently, there are hardly any narcotic drugs being peddled on the
streets or in the open market today. However, there could be the residue
of narcotic dealers whose illegal operations will end sooner than later.
Hence, the allegations levelled by the Opposition, that crime has
increased in the country due to the fault of the Government does not
hold water. These are mere political slogans of disgruntled Opposition
politicians to gain petty political mileage. Instead of making such
baseless allegations, the Opposition should commend the action taken by
the Government and the Defence Secretary to apprehend these culprits.
Though thugs and underworld elements had become a vital component at
election campaigns during the UNP regime, the Government is determined
to end it. This may perhaps, affect the ruling UPFA at future elections
but the President has set a fine example by giving top priority to the
country and discipline.
The Government or the police alone cannot eradicate crime. Public
vigilance and the support of social and religious leaders too are vital
to check crime, rape and child abuse. Religious leaders of all faiths
should play a key role in enlightening the society and inculcating
Today's society is hell-bent on earning a fast buck and the
importance of good conduct and values is fast fading. Hence, it behoves
us to take stock of our mistakes and rectify them. This is where
religious leaders could help in steering the country on the right track.
Irrespective of party politics, religion or social affiliations, all
Sri Lankans must unite to preserve Sri Lanka's good old values, rich
tradition and culture. Most of the crime that had taken place was a
result of people deviating from Sri Lanka's traditional values and going
after money. Economic prosperity will be meaningless if Sri Lanka's
values and discipline are not upheld. All Sri Lankans are duty-bound to
preserve and promote our culture and tradition for the benefit of the
next generation, rather than gobbling everything from the West merely
for financial benefits.