he 34th Inspector General of Police (IGP) is to be sworn in before President Maithripala Sirisena soon. The people in Sri Lanka were concerned as to who would be the new IGP for the past few days -- since the 33rd IGP N.K.Ilangakoon had retired -- whoever will hold the post will be responsible for the general public’s peaceful life as well as securing their democratic rights. Hence, the integrity of the new IGP will be a cardinal importance to the people of this country.
In fact, the general public is expecting a new police service, rather than a new police chief as they have lost a major portion of their confidence in the police department for the last several decades. That was not due to one particular incident or person, but due to a plethora of incidents that had taken place almost all over the country during that period. It is vital here to point out that the police department along with the education and judicial sectors had been able to earn the “reputation” of being the most corrupt institutions in the country for the past several years, according to the annual corruption index of the Transparency International (TI).
Whatever the outcome of the case against the Embilipitiya ASP, who had been accused in connection with the death of a youth during a party, people have already convicted him along with other police personnel who were serving at the Embilipitiya Police Station. The Kotadeniyawa Police had arrested the person nicknamed “Kondaya” and a student in connection with sexual abuse and murder of 5-year-old Seya Sadewmi and concocted a confession purported to have been made by “Kondaya” which resembled a South Indian movie. It is interesting to know as to how those police personnel who were serving at the Kotadeniyawa Police Station at the time would have faced the people after the same suspects were released.
When Vithiya, the schoolgirl in Punkuduthivu in the North was killed after being gang-raped a few months ago, the local police was accused of being lethargic as they were allegedly not prompt upon the first complaint, until the girl’s relatives found her dead body. Also again, the police were accused in the earlier days of the investigation for attempting to save one of the suspects.
During the past several decades, the police had been used by the successive regimes to suppress the democratic rights of the workers, students, farmers and fishermen. Even during the present government that reintroduced the National Police Commission (NPC), the entire country saw in the media how the police ruthlessly attacked the HNDA students. These incidents would serve to prove the theory floated by a school of thought that the police are nothing but a repressive tool in the hands of the ruling class.
The NPC was meant to safeguard the rights of the police personnel from the IGP down to the ordinary constable as well as those of the general public from the injustices meted out by the police. However, the decisions of the NPC have now been challenged by the police itself before the judiciary.
Against this backdrop, the main challenge before the new IGP would be the restoration of the public confidence in the police which would definitely be a daunting task, in the light of the culture that had been cultivated within the police department over the years as well as the political culture in the country that has not been changed yet.