We are aware of how some unscrupulous politicians often times put one foot if not both feet in their mouth to attract attention or gain popularity among their voters when elections are round the corner. They make various allegations knowing that even if they proved false, the politicians would be rarely if at all taken to task. One such case was that of former sports minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage blatantly making unsubstantiated allegations that the 2011 Cricket World Cup Final was fixed and that was the reason Sri Lanka lost the important match to India.
The Sports Ministry Investigation Unit, which investigated the allegations made by Mr. Aluthgamage have found them to be baseless. Should not this former minister whom the people especially, cricket lovers across the country expected to act with responsibility but had instead acted otherwise be held accountable for wasting tax payers money and wasted the time of the investigating unit. Unfortunately, if those responsible are politicians, they are allowed to go scot-free and even nominated to contest another election. These are not isolated cases but happen all the time in this wonderful country of ours.
If this is bad enough, the following is even worse; when some among those appointed to prevent this country from being infiltrated by narcotics of different kinds were found to have connived with drug traffickers to ply their evil trade placing the country at risk and tarnishing the image of the entire service. It is a well-known fact that narcotics of various kinds have spread their vicious tentacles across the country luring men, women and children who finally end up as addicts and a source of filthy lucre to the unscrupulous drug importers, dealers and traffickers to finance their luxury lifestyles while the hapless addicts are trapped in a hell hole till death relieves him or her of
It is against this background that we learned last week of the arrest of 16 Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) personnel including Inspectors, Sergeants and Police Constables and one civilian on charges of having links to drug dealers. They were later produced in the Colombo Magistrate’s Court and ordered to be detained till yesterday for further questioning. These arrests came in the wake of a senior inspector, two sergeants and a police constable being interdicted from service on June 29 on similar charges with DIG S. Medawatte who was in charge of the PNB being replaced by DIG K. Aponso.
One of the questions we have repeatedly asked is whether the narcotics detected and seized, often times described as the ‘biggest haul of narcotics in the country’, is held in well-secured premises till they are finally destroyed with the usual fanfare and publicity. Come to think of it, these very same personnel may have turned out as heroes on such occasions. We often wonder whether a proper audit is ever conducted of the quantity of drugs seized, destroyed and the quantity remaining as court productions. We always had had a nagging suspicion that some of these narcotics in custody find its way back to the addicts.
Meanwhile, what led to the arrests was the discovery of an illegal armoury concealed in a five-storey building at Pitipana in Homagama with the detectives trying to figure out how the firearms were brought to this location and by whom.
The initial raid conducted by the Special Task Force (STF) resulted in the discovery of eleven T56 weapons and one T81 weapon hidden in a storeroom on the ground floor of the building with more weapons, ammunition and detonators recovered from other locations in the same area.
The scandal which rocked the PNB and that its personnel now in CID custody on charges of operating their own drug-trafficking network had been with the Bureau for more than a decade even receiving presidential awards and cash rewards in connection with their anti-narcotic operations was more than a matter of serious concern.
We, in no way hold the entire unit responsible for the misdemeanors of a few misguided personnel caught up in the drug trafficking mess and muddle not realising that crime does not pay. But it goes without saying that the few in cases such as this have tarnished the image of the entire unit and shattered its integrity.
“When those to whom we entrust public safety abdicate their role of public protector, the system has failed at its most fundamental level.” (Devil’s advocates; Greatest Closing Arguments in Criminal Law by Michael S Lief and H. Mitchell Caldwell)