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Sunday, 15 July 2012

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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 politics.

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' negligence.

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 discipline.

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.

 

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