My one and only brother Sanaraja Banda Senaratne passed away one and half years ago. His Birthday fell on 10th July. He was a friend and a brother whom I will never forget. We normally had tiffs over various subjects, but anger was absent, because that was his way.
Whenever I met him in Colombo, generally at least twice a month, I used to tell him to recall his experiences, which are many, and put them down on paper so that other Police officers could get a glimpse of what Police can do for the betterment of the department. He told me one day “Aiya, what is the earthly use? I have done my duty for the country, the people and above all served in one of the most honourable positions that one can be employed that of a Police Officer during my 30-year career. I have no regrets “. I never spoke about the subject, because that was what he wished.
After he passed away, his room was tidied and it was found that he had jotted down a few important facts in a book which he may have perhaps intended to publish some day. But he couldn’t. That’s the nature of life. I quote a few lines from the many he has penned. Some I really don’t understand.
He commences his story with the background of his parents. ‘We once lived in Colombo 7 and attended St. Joseph’s College. During the war we shifted to my mother’s home in Kandy and joined Kingswood College; where gentlemen are made. Both of us received that grounding, more to fit into society rather than canter for examinations.
My brother forsook a University education and opted to join the Police Service, when Sir Richard Aluvihare was the Inspector General of Police. My brother says that he joined the Police when Sir Richard took out the “ Force “ and made it a “ Service “ and instructed that police must have a mirror in the Police Reserve. He said that this will help Police Officers who go out on duty see for themselves who they are. Well there is a point in that system.
He puts it down that when the Board interviewed him at the stadium at the Police ground, Sir Richard himself was present which suprised the Senior Officers serving on the Board; including the most feared Sydney Soyza. Sir Richard sat as the President, he writes. He was asked only two questions by Sri Richard himself. He was asked what school he attended and what was his position? That ended the interview for him. Nine young men from all ethnic groups were selected, including a Burgher citizen.
As a Senior Prefect at Kingswood, he on his own used to stop vehicles on the road for students so that they could cross the road. Then as a Rover Scout he got a brilliant idea.
The then Principal of Girls’ High School, which was a sister school, coming under the Wesleyan Mission, called the Senior Prefect of Kingswood through the Principal and told him to organize one for her Girls’ who were Guides. This was done and Kandy Girls’ High School became the second to form the “Road Safety Squad”
When he joined Police Service, he promoted this idea and it became a National Institution. He writes that his first appointment was at the Pettah Police. Here he had to do the ‘ Paper Inquiry”, a subject that is given to ‘ rookie ‘ Sub Inspectors. With this he came across most individuals who became politicians later and served the country.
While serving at Pettah, the famous “Emergency” was clamped down. He was on duty at Boodhi Junction, when an acid bottle was thrown at him. The acid bottle hit his nose and then fell on to his feet, burning his shoe.
Then he relates how the Home Guards were formed. Having had to sleep sometimes in schools, without proper facilities, because the police didn’t have the resources nor funding.
He writes about one ASP. Aiyer was the ASP in charge of the division which covers Pettah. He adds, ‘Our father knew Iyer and told him one day that his son is at Pettah Police’. From here onward he says that he was under his thumb. One day he called me and said “ See that you make entries whenever you go out and keep the pocket note book up to date. This you will never regret “ What he said was true.
In short, he was transferred back to Colombo Police Headqauarters to the Crime and Information Division. He had no vehicle. So he told the IGP that he had no vehicle and that was soon after he was appointed. He told him “ take my car “. It was one of those rare cars in the department which was red in colour.
Anyone who knew him during his times with the Police, would tell that he lived a good life and was helpful to anyone who he came across. He was well connected with temples. He had close ties with Bellanwila Raja Maha Viharaya. There was a reason why he was so connected with the Maha Sangha. It was because of his father’s brother, our uncle. He was a Buddhist monk. He later served as the Trustee of Hantane Raja Maha Vihare.
My brother lived a full life. He left without the knowledge that he was departing