ILLICIT LIQUOR RACKETEERS RULE THE ROOST IN NITTAMBUWA Why is the Police ineffective?
More stories of injustice meted out to the public by the police established to maintain law and order are rapidly spreading. These stories have raised much concern within a section of the society. Many views have been expressed in the recent past regarding the actions taken by the so called commissions during such situations.
- The Anti Vice Unit of the Nittambuwa Police had been striving hard to end this evil trade.
- Certain senior police officers were also supporting these racketeers
- The house was leased to a group of Chinese nationals
- After the case that followed Rs 10,000 was awarded to my mother as compensation for the lost finger
In one of the most recent incidents the police were taken to task by the court for acting in a manner that proved their ignorance of the basic laws of the country. This was regarding the incident where a foreign tourist was awarded compensation. This story reveals the lackadaisical attitude of certain police personnel, serving the Nittambuwa Police Station, in conducting investigations and bringing to book a gang of illicit liquor (Kassippu) distillers. These businessmen have taken the law into their hands and work hand in glove with the police.
The protagonist of this story a lady had been attached to a media institution and moved with her family to a house in Nimahetikanda in Nittambuwa in 2012. This area was well-known for the illicit liquor trade. A well organized racket relating to illicit liquor distilling and distribution was taking place prominently. The Anti Vice Unit of the Nittambuwa Police had been striving hard to end this evil trade. But as the racketeers were strengthened by political power the law enforcement officers were helpless. Certain senior police officers were also supporting these racketeers.
Whenever the inmates of the house were confronted by these racketeers, the woman occupying the house had lodged a complaint with the police by calling119.
This house which was vacant for some time had been the place where the illicit liquor had been kept concealed. The family that moved into this house wasn’t aware of this illegal activity. The daily operation of these racketeers got affected with the house now being occupied. However, the racketeers were determined to carry on with their activities. Whenever the inmates of the house were confronted by these racketeers, the woman occupying the house had lodged a complaint with the police by calling119. Due to repeated calls by her the police raiding party came out with the idea of visiting the house as civilians.
The police personnel wanted to spend time at this home as friends of the householders. The inmates couldn’t refuse the suggestion made by the police and conceded. Towards the end of 2014 a raid was conducted successfully. The racketeers, after coming to know the Modus Operandi of this police team, were hellbent on taking revenge.
On Christmas day back in 2014 the racketeers, fueled by the leadership provided by a Civil Defense Force member, arrived at the house and assaulted the women’s father, who had complained to the police against the racketeers.
Her mother intervened in the incident and as a result lost one of her fingers. The police were informed again with the householders calling 119. The householders faced threats and experienced much harassment following this incident. They had no alternative, but to lease the house in August. The house was leased to a group of Chinese nationals. The householders meanwhile moved into a half completed house belonging to the family and situated in a nearby land.
According to this lady, on the very day her family had moved in, a villager, fully intoxicated with liquor, had arrived brandishing a knife and scolded her father
On October 2 her eight-year-old child had been playing outside when a villager had scolded him. When this woman had gone there an argument had arisen and the villager had twisted her hand. She had grabbed a cricket bat and had pushed the villager aside using the wooden object. She had then reported the matter to the police by calling 119. The Nittambuwa Police had responded saying that it wasn’t necessary to visit their station. However about an hour later the law enforcement officers had summoned her to the Police station. She had then gone to the police station accompanied by her father and a brother and visited the crime unit. She was surprised with the presence of a group of villagers at the police station.
Revealing her story she said that the house in question was purchased by her after seeing an advertisement in the newspaper, way back in 2012. “We observed that the house had been vacant for quite some time. After having purchased this property we came to know that this was a centre from where illicit liquor racketeers operated. After purchasing the house we entrusted the renovation work to a contractor. He declined to continue with the work saying that some outsiders were intimidating him. Several other contractors too were unable to attend to this work and finally we were compelled to occupy the house despite repairs not being completed,” she said.
According to this lady, on the very day her family had moved in, a villager, fully intoxicated with liquor, had arrived brandishing a knife and scolded her father. “Acting on a call I made to the Police, via119, a Police officer from Nittambuwa visited us and in our presence admonished this person. We didn’t pursue with the matter, but stones were hurled at our house. They had even poisoned the fish in our outdoor tank. Even the dogs were not spared,” she reminisced.
The family had later managed to purchase a 62-perch land which was opposite this house. However, the villagers weren’t at all pleased with their action.
While the family was at the police station another crowd had surrounded their house. The SI who spoke to her via telephone had assured her that no such incident had occurred
The incident that took place on the night of Christmas day in 2014 was brought to the notice of the police. After the case that followed Rs 10,000 was awarded to the mother as compensation for the lost finger. The assailant was acquitted on condition that he wouldn’t create any problems for this family. Later they had installed CCTV cameras in the house and the situation returned to normalcy.
Another incident took place on October 2 when another villager, who had come near the house where her son was playing, had threatened them stating that these lands belonged to them. The villager had abused the family in foul language. When she had responded by stating that the police would be informed of his behavior, he had retorted, “The Police are our friends. They eat and drink with us. You get it done if you can”. At the police station, in front of the officers of the crime division, the men had shouted stating that they must chase these people (The lady and her family) away and set fire to their house.
While the family was at the police station another crowd had surrounded their house. The SI who spoke to her via telephone had assured her that he is also residing close by and no such incident had occurred. During this telephone conversation the woman had overheard the SI telling someone “Ask them to leave”. This conversation has been recorded by the woman.
When she had returned home she found that some household articles were damaged and the house had been set on fire. The house that was let out to the Chinese had also been damaged. When she dialed the Nittambuwa Police (using the number 0332297255) and informed about the latest developments the policeman had said, ‘How can that happen when the villagers are here”.
Repeated calls had been taken to the OIC of the Nittambuwa Police, but they went unanswered. According to the family whenever they called the police to inform that a group of people was damaging the house or assaulting the family they (Police) never believed them and always exonerated the wrongdoers.
The family had brought this grave injustice to the attention of the IGPs Public Complaints Centre, Police Commission and the Human Rights authorities. It appears that these steps taken by the aggrieved woman had antagonized some police personnel at the Nittambuwa Police Station. Countering her moves, the suspects involved had filed counter complaints saying that the woman assaulted an individual with a cricket bat.
Meanwhile her son’s education has been hampered as his schoolbooks have been burnt and her mother, who has suffered mentally as a result of this issue, is now under treatment at the mental hospital. The house she had built after mortgaging her property has now been reduced to ashes.
The taped conversation she had with a police officer in Nittambuwa is proof of how nasty this police has been to her.
Despite the harassment she has experienced and the refusal by the police of Nittambuwa to bring the culprits to book, she says that all police officers are not behaving in this manner and there are many good men in the Police Department.
Investigations are continuing
When contacted Police spokesperson Ruwan Gunasekare said that a complaint had been made regarding this incident to the Senior SSP Gampaha Police and the IGP special unit that entertains public complaints. The complaint made to the Senior SSP Gampaha Police has been forwarded to be taken for hearing by the Assistant SSP Attanagalla.