An ASP attached to the Hambantota Police Division was caught on camera last Thursday assaulting a man during a protest led by the joint opposition against the leasing of the loss-making Mattala Airport, with the video going viral in the mainstream electronic and social media. The ASP was seen unashamedly assaulting the man while he was held by two fellow policemen.
On the previous day, the Negombo Police arrested the Acting Crimes OIC of the Divulapitiya Police in connection with the death of a man in remand prison.
A Police Constable absconding from arrest in connection with the attack on the UNHCR safe house for Rohingya refugees in Mount Lavinia surrendered to police the same week.
With this attack, it came to light that a PC had raped a Rohingya girl when the refugees were detained at the police detention centre in Mirihana.
These are some of the few stories published in the media within a week.
Needless to peep into the Rajapaksa regime to peruse more police excesses with impunity since the police under the Yahapalana Government have given enough examples, apart from the above incidents.
Few weeks ago, a DIG was arrested for aiding a key suspect in the rape and murder of Punguduthivu student, Vidya Sivaloganathan. The same high ranking police officer had been accused of helping the suspects of another murder in the Ratnapura District.
IGP Pujith Jayasundara, who is said to be attempting to develop the police into a virtuous institution through meditation with the involvement of all personnel including lift operators, must be reminded of some more incidents. It must be recalled that fresh from the passing of the Office of Missing Persons (OMP) Bill, a 20-year-old youth who had allegedly been arrested by the Hambantota Police in connection with the theft of paddy from a paddy store in the area disappeared in September, 2016. A 17-year-old student was arrested and assaulted in connection with the killing of five-year-old Seya Sadewmi of Kotadeniyawa in September, 2015 without the slightest of evidence for his involvement in the incident.
The Kotadeniyawa Police were so clever that they had extracted a confession from a suspect called ‘Kondaya’ to the effect that he raped and killed little Seya, and later extracted another confession from yet another individual on the same incident. The brutal assault on HNDA students at the Lipton Circus in Colombo in October 2015 and the death of a youth during a clash between the villagers and police in Embilipitiya were two more cases on point. The list is certainly too long to relate.
Police Spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara had stated that an investigation had been initiated on the incident where an ASP publicly assaulted an individual. Yes, it should be investigated to conform with the procedures before taking action against the police officer. But what further evidence do investigating authorities need than a video footage circulating on social media?
Why should the ASP assault a man when he was already taken in by his subordinates? Why was he so infuriated? He did not do anything against the officer, now did he? He might have breached the law and already been arrested or taken in for questioning. There are courts to handle the issue thereafter and the law should be allowed to take its course. However, as is the case in many countries, police here too are of the opinion that they can do anything to anyone who confront them legally or illegally. The irony is that people accept this notion too.
Another unfortunate situation is that it is the police that investigate allegations against police as doctors investigate allegations of medical negligence by doctors. The upshot of many cases therefore is predetermined. There is a plethora of cases swept under the rug. We hope the ASP would not escape charges and the videographer concerned not be accused of misleading the world.