The sudden and unexpected demise of retired Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police Bodhi Liyanage has left a great void in our society, the Police Department and the Association of Police–Chiefs. The irreplaceable loss of this dynamic and vibrant personality will be felt far and wide and in many circles.
This tribute is in memory of a truly great human being who made an un-precedent contribution to the Police Department. It is no easy task to write a tribute to an eminent character of the likes of Bodhi Liyanage; however I shall strive to do justice to this remarkable personality.
For being a towering influence in my formative years in the Police Department and for the values he inculcated in me, I owe him an immeasurable debt of gratitude
I had the privilege of meeting him for the first time at the Colombo University where my brother–in-law was a very close friend of him and his batch mate. At university, acquitting him very well at a young age, he obtained a Degree in Economics and moved on after graduation to become a banker. Shortly after, the military beckoned him and he joined the Sri Lanka Army. However, it was the Police Department where his true calling lay and on August 1, 1974, he enrolled in the Police Department as a Probationary Assistant Superintendent, becoming the first in a batch of five after a competitive examination.
My second encounter with Bodhi Liyanage was in 1985 when he took over the Kandy Police Division as the Senior Superintendent of Police. I was then, only a novice Sub-Inspector in charge of a small police station under his purview. However, it so transpired that my daughter was a classmate of his eldest daughter Dinithi, fondly called “Booni” at Mahamaya Ladies College in Kandy, where they became firm friends. Partially owing to this fact amongst others, he always treated me well and always had a kind word for me. In 1988, the JVP insurrection broke out with all its chaos; my house in Kandy was partly burnt down and my eldest son kidnapped twice by the insurgents. It was when I contemplated leaving the service in fear of my family’s security that my brother-in-law intervened and took me to Bodhi Liyanage’s residence in Kandy. His advice to me was, “Do the justice you know and you shall learn to do the justice you need.” With a telephone call to the DIG in charge of the province, he arranged a transfer to a safe location for me and my family. This move was truly a blessing as I received the opportunity to work under another great personality, Senior DIG Nimal Mediwake, who helped me and my family to overcome the agony we underwent in the years that followed. For this turn in my life, for being a towering influence in my formative years in the Police Department and for the values he inculcated in me, I owe him an immeasurable debt of gratitude. I met him once, quite recently, at the launch of his auto biography ‘Anna Ekai Hari.’ This was attended by many senior officers, serving and retired, including the incumbent IGP Pujith Jayasundara, where he delivered an incisive speech for which he received a standing ovation. Spotting me in the crowd, he called me to hand over two books. He said, “Gemunu, here are two autographed books for you and your wife with my compliments.”
Of Bodhi Liyanage it can be truly said, “Titles of honour add not to his worth, who is himself an honour to his life”
In 2008, after his retirement, I met him at a vehicle service station. Discussing many things, I asked him why he was deprived of what was surely a most deserving promotion as Inspector General of Police. His reply was that he being always conscious of the prestigious position he held, he preferred retirement, maintaining self-respect. Of Bodhi Liyanage it can be truly said, “Titles of honour add not to his worth, who is himself an honour to his life.”
He and his family led a simple life, believing that happiness was not based on positions, power or wealth. He moved freely in the higher echelons of society and yet was accessible to all who wished to meet him. Amongst his many acts of humanity was helping the needy in their most miserable and needy times. Bodhi Liyanage hailed from a very respectable family in the South. A loving husband and devoted father, the greatest legacy he left his family was his unsullied title. Of him they can proudly proclaim, “He was our father.” As a career Police Officer now retired, it is my belief that Bodhi Liyanage’s auto-biography be standard reading for junior and senior police officers alike, with police libraries islandwide preserving this book. ‘Anna Ekai Hari’ (That is the right thing) should be standard credo in the police.
‘Poojatha Poojaniyanan’ – Respect those who deserve to be respected.
Bodhi Liyanage, a mentor and guru to countless many, a personality much larger than his life and a beacon of righteousness passed away peacefully after a sudden stroke on August 18 this year. May the blessings we pass on to you, prevent you from another untimely death in your sojourn in Sansara. May you come back to your wife, children and loved ones and into the void created by your loss.