Police Constable Suminda Saman, who was subjected to humiliation and bodily harm allegedly by Deputy Minister Hemal Gunasekara at the Kottawa access point on the Southern expressway, had no other alternative than to leave the police force. He had by this time sent in his resignation letter to the IGP by Registered Post as revealed a few days ago. When the media made inquiries as to what made him take the decision to leave his job, he had this to say:
To start off, please tell me your name.
Athapaththu Hewawasam Liyanage Don Suminda Saman
And briefly tell me your family details
Wife, two daughters and son
"I expect that justice would prevail on my complaint. Whatever threats and intimidation comes I am not going to withdraw my complaint. I performed my duties honestly without any hesitation, and regret so much the ill-treatment I am subjected to. I hope that the police would locate at least one person who assaulted me."
Where were you educated?
St Joseph’s College Anuradhapura, and did A/L
When did you join the police force?
July 07, 2009
What made you join the police force?
My father served the police for 33 years and he became a sergeant on the special recommendation of the IGP. My elder brother was a training instructor at the Nikaveratiya Police Training School at the time I joined the police force. Another elder brother joined the police force as an SI in 1999.He had obtained the highest marks for the subject in Law and was the recipient of an award. He worked in the CID Fraud Investigation Unit. Therefore following in the footsteps of my family members, I too opted to be in the Police Force.
There is a charge saying that your brother was removed from the CID?
I vehemently refute that charge. My brother was a skilled officer. The Deputy Minister is alleged to have stated that he was in the STF. These are all lies. He applied for the Green Card and he was fortunate to obtain PR in USA. He resigned legally, handing over all official goods and migrated after obtaining the IGP’s approval. He went there thirteen years ago.
Let’s now come to the subject. you said that the deputy minister threatened you, but the Minister refuted saying that you ridiculed him. Who is right?
No, it is not so. It was the Deputy Minister who scolded me and the entire scene is recorded on CCTV, and an examination of those records will reveal the truth. My OIC, and PC Maduranga and I had made entries in the log books about the behaviour of the Deputy Minister concerned on the same day of the incident. These entries cover five pages. Two persons of the Road Development Authority manning the issue of tickets at the Toll points witnessed this incident and they have given correct evidence on the first incident that affected me.
Media reports said that the Minister’s Security Personnel had instructed you to beg forgiveness from the Minister with folded palms. Is it correct?
Yes. The vehicle of the PSO arrived from the Colombo side and made a stop after a U turn. Then he went up to the Minister and after discussing with him approached me and said, ”the Minister is pissed off with with you, go and say sorry to him and beg forgiveness with folded palms”. He had also blamed the driver of the Minister’s vehicle for not informing the police who were at the check point that the passenger inside was a Deputy Minister and scolded him by trying to be too smart.
Did you make a complaint about what you faced on the expressway?
Yes. My statement running to five pages was recorded along with those of my OIC and the Police Constable. The following day I brought this to the notice of the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP). No records were written but only typed and I stayed there for more than twelve hours.
Your vehicle, under whose name is it registered?
It is in the name of a former Police Sergeant. As there was a lease the book was not transferred to my name. There were arrears in the lease payments. It is I who regularised the payments.
There is a charge that payments had been erratic.
I do not know how a leasing company can divulge private information to third parties. It was I who regularised the payments on the lease and brought it to this level. I paid back somehow or other.
After the vehicle was burnt, did you receive any payment?
I did not receive a cent as the vehicle is in the name of someone else, and how can I get anything when I do not own it. What if I also got burnt inside the vehicle. Nothing would have remained, only abuse and ridicule would have remained. As I am now living I can reply to the charges alleged against me.
When they pursued you and after beating you and setting fire to the vehicle it was alleged that you were using your phone?
When they were recording my statement they repeatedly asked me about the exact time this incident occurred. What I remember is that I left home almost after seven forty five in the night having watched half of a teledrama. I felt that a group was following me and I called my mother to inform that I am in trouble.
How far from your home did the incident take place?
I cannot tell you exactly. Maybe about six kilometres away.
All this happened within a short time?
Police are now trying to turn the matter upside down by saying this and that. I normally drive fast in the night, and when I am pursued do you want me to drive at snail’s speed. They are now fabricating various stories to refute that I was assaulted. They are trying to mentally push me down. By getting a Nano car for me to drive they are asking me to demonstrate how I drove that night.
You have not reported for duty yet?
Yes I am on medical leave, I passed blood with urine and am still under observation and going through several medical tests.
Are you satisfied with the ongoing police investigations?
Politicians are making public every stage of the investigations, in such an event can you expect a justifiable investigation.
Are you pressurised by someone to leave the police, and it appears that you are hiding some facts?
I left the service as there is a serious threat to my life. I would never have dreamt of leaving this job which I did for the past 14 years. My closest friends requested me not to leave. I have no plans for the future. I left because of my family and children.
There is a charge that you are friendly with some Opposition Politicians, and they also accuse you of being a traitor?
Who I am, and what my party is, are well known to Minister Kumara Welgama. Ask him who is Nano Ralahamy. I am a supporter of this government. Do not make me a traitor. I have not done anything against this government, and I only spoke about the injustice I had suffered.
You have become a popular figure by now, are you considering entering politics?
No never. I prefer to be a farmer. By issuing a notice of fine to a politician I have fallen into this plight, and I never think of even casting a vote in future.
There is an allegation that you had applied for a Green Card to migrate to the USA and you were unable to proceed further as you could not show Rs 3 million. Is it true?
I applied in or around 2004 when I had only one child, I did not get it that time and since then I have never applied. This is also another fabrication to put me in further trouble.
You have failed to reveal anything about the outside influence. Is it from a politico or from a senior police officer?
I have some threats, which I will reveal at the correct time. I have now left the police. If threats come again I will reveal the names. I will have no alternative in such event but to report my case to the Human
Why did you lodge a complaint with the Human Rights Commission?
I told them that I am being interrogated for going against a Deputy Minister of the Government, and investigations would be conducted on the complaint made by the Deputy Minister. Therefore I went to the Commission seeking justice.
What have you got to say in summing up?
I expect that justice would prevail on my complaint. Whatever threats and intimidation I’ll have to face I will not withdraw my complaint. I performed my duties honestly without any hesitation, and regret so much the ill-treatment I am subjected to. I hope that the police would arreast at least one person who assaulted me.
If I had continued to sever the police I would have found him by now. I request the Minister to resign from his post until the investigations are over and prove that he accepts justice. Everybody in my village knows in whose vehicle they came to record
"I left the service as there is a serious threat to my life. I would never have dreamt of leaving this job which I did for the past 14 years. My closest friends requested me not to leave. I have no plans for the future. I left because of my family and children."
They keep on visiting my house in Nano cars carrying video cameras. More than 50 neighbours were present around my house and one of them had overheard a police official speaking over his mobile and telling someone at the other end; “Yes he was not at home earlier, now he is here and we are trying to bring him”.
There I refused to go with them saying I am stll under treatment and I have no security at night to move about. The OIC then said he is going to record that I refused to cooperate in giving a statement. I replied it is not a refusal but my security is my concern. Thereafter he recorded a statement and went away. With this news a large crowd of villagers and the media came in search of me.
My daughter is sitting for her scholarship examination this year and why are they attempting to weaken my childrens’ mentally? What evil have I done to earn the wrath of these people in power. I don’t know whether they are trying to kill me. I cannot lose my childrens’ (weeping) I was in the police I did an honest job and did everything that was legally permissible, why oh why am I made to suffer in this manner.
(The policeman continues to weep)
Translated by Bernard Edirisinghe