Ramachandra Sunderalingam, a police officer who was highly-respected for his integrity, honesty and impartial execution of law, died in Chennai on December 29, 2018, where he was domiciled with his wife during the past few years.
It is reported that after a fall at his flat in Mylapore, Chennai, he was treated at a private hospital until his demise. It was sad news for the police officers in his era who had been subordinate officers in various police stations and branches. A stalwart of the Sri Lanka Police who had brought credit to the Police Department in many fields leaving this earth in such a manner was indeed a considerable loss.
The police officers were highly agitated and raring to attack any member of the JVP. On this instance, Mr. Sunderalingam made certain that none of the persons arrested was harassed or disposed of by the police
Mr. Sunderalingam joined the police as a Probationary ASP, having graduated from the Peradeniya University in the year 1954. Whilst in university, he was an admired undergraduate and was elected President of both the University Students’ Council and the Jayatilleke Hall, uncontested, which is said to be a rare and first-time happening in the history of Peradeniya University.
On completion of his initial training at Katukurunda Police Training School, he went in to the field to perform law-enforcement duties in almost all districts, divisions and ranges where he was in command. He had served in many parts of the country from Ambalangoda to Kandy to Jaffna and Colombo. During this period, he performed his duties in a very professional manner and was accepted by members of all political parties as a fair and just officer. When he was attached to the Kandy District, Peradeniya Universitycame under his purview. There was unrest and hartal by the students, where the police were called in to the campus by the Vice Chancellor to deal with the situation. Being the past president of university students, he led the team of police officers and dealt with the protesters tactfully.
I recollect following the aftermath of the JVP insurrection in 1971, a group of graduates from Vidyalankara University proceeded by train and motorcar to Jaffna to rescue JVP leader Rohana Wijeweera who was incarcerated in the Jaffna Prison. This group was unsuccessful in their attempts and was arrested by the police. At that time, the police officers were highly agitated and raring to attack any member of the JVP. On this instance, Mr. Sunderalingam made certain that none of the persons arrested was harassed or disposed of by the police officers, but were safely locked up in the Hammond Heel Prison at Nainativu in Kayts. Even Rohana Wijeweera was not tortured.
He was assigned to undertake lectures on behalf of Interpol on Drug Law Enforcement to many agencies in Asia. He was an affable, kind and lovable personality who won many friends everywhere he served
Mr. Sunderalingam was considered as a fair and just officer when dealing with members of the public or police. He is credited to have been a smart police officer who used to go to the Jaffna town on duty riding a horse; the public of Jaffna had not seen before.
Subsequently, he was transferred to Colombo and the department established a unit called the Colombo Detective Bureau (CDB) under the leadership of Mr. Sunderalingam. CDB became a well-known unit in solving crimes. Mr. Sunderalingam, having realised the danger of narcotic drugs which would eventually become a grave problem, established a unit known as the Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) in 1973.
Although Mr. Sunderalingam was promoted as DIG- Crimes and Operations, he had the subject of narcotics under his purview and the PNB which was established as a sub-unit of CDB under Mr. Sunderalingam was legally and firmly established in April 1973. It was his foresight that made the Police Department establish the specialised unit which is continuing the fight against the drug menace that has grown out of proportion.
After retirement, Mr. Sunderalingam left for Germany with his family and with the help of the German Police, he underwent training and worked with Drug Law Enforcement officers for a few years. He then joined the Interpol in Lyons, Paris in 1986. With his wide knowledge and experience, he was welcomed into the drugs section and ended up as a drug expert at Interpol. He was assigned to undertake lectures on behalf of Interpol on Drug Law Enforcement to many agencies in Asia. He was an affable, kind and lovable personality who won many friends everywhere he served and in Chennai where he spent the last few years with his life partner.
He leaves behind his loving lifelong partner Yaso and only child Radhakrishnan. He was a devoted husband and caring father. We who knew and served under his command extend our deepest grief to his wife and son.
SIVA PATHAM ADAINTHAR
DEPUTY INSPECTOR GENERAL OF POLICE (RTD)