As the crime rate in Sri Lanka soars to dangerous levels with politicians being either directly involved or giving patronage and protection to criminal gangs as we saw in the recent horror stories in Deraniyagala, using data from the Geneva Declaration’s latest report, the London-based Action on Armed Violence has identified Sri Lanka as the ninth most dangerous country in the world. The report says half a million people all over the world die violent deaths every year, but only one in 10 are killed in conflict zones. El Salvador is the most dangerous country in the world, followed by Iraq. Sri Lanka is listed as the ninth most dangerous country. These figures were based on statistics from 2004 to 2009 when the government was embroiled in a bloody war with the ruthless LTTE terrorists. After May 2009, Sri Lanka was no longer a conflict zone but going by reports in the media and unreported crimes we wonder where Sri Lanka would be in the next report.
According to evidence, the killing of the 71-year-old Nooriya tea estate Superintendent in Deraniyagala is one of the most horrific in the wave of political killings – a “killing fields” culture that appears to have engulfed Sri Lankan society under the Rajapaksa regime. Police and eyewitnesses say the retired superintendent Nihal Perera was brutally chopped up in broad daylight because he had taken action against widespread corruption and crime by gangs known to be connected to a highly-placed politician in the area. The superintendent had been assaulted by this local politico some two months ago but despite complaints the police had taken little or no action.
The Planters' Association has said if justice was done at that time this gruesome tragedy could have been avoided. According to media reports the Deraniyagala Pradeshiya Sabha's former Chairman Anil Champika Wijesinghe was one of the nine suspects remanded for the murder. The others who were supporters of this politician were alleged to have been involved in the crimes of demanding ransom, felling trees illegally and demanding free supplies of tea from the estate. The slain superintendent had come out courageously against this criminal politician and paid with his life. When the Special Task Force was sent to Deraniyagala to bring the mayhem under control the police officer-in-charge of the area was immediately transferred showing police complicity or a cover-up of the political crime and thuggery which have brought international disgrace to Sri Lanka.
The Deraniyagala devilry has provoked other international repercussions also. Walters Bay International, the Texas-based American company managing the tea estate, has informed the government of its decision to withdraw from its operations because of this killing.
" The Government instead of correcting or punishing the political murderers, rapists and thugs, appears to be on a high-scale campaign to defend them and politically colour-wash the crimes "
The Government instead of correcting or punishing the political murderers, rapists and thugs, appears to be on a high-scale campaign to defend them and politically colour-wash the crimes. The Chief Government Whip and Minister Dinesh Gunawardena told Parliament last week he believed that the Russian girlfriend of Khuram Shaikh, the British Red Cross worker, was not gang raped by the suspect UPFA politicians and his aides after they allegedly killed the British Red Cross worker at a resort in Tangalle on Christmas Eve 2011. While the court is awaiting a vital DNA test, legal experts are asking how a senior government politician could virtually carry out a trial of his own.
Whether the Rajapaksa regime is politicising the killings or killers are being groomed for politics is not clear. Last Thursday India’s Supreme Court made a landmark order by dragging criminals out of politics. The Rajapaksa regime must take immediate action if it does not want to get a worse ranking in the list of the most dangerous countries in the world.