Daily Mirror - Print Edition

Police obstructing Excise from carrying out its duties Excise Dept. to take the matter up with the Actg. IGP

16 Jan 2024 - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}      

By Kurulu Koojana Kariyakarawana   

With continuing incidents of the police obstructing the duties carried out by the Excise in countrywide operations and detections owing to instances of miscommunication, the Department of Excise is to take the matter up with the Acting IGP in the coming days, the Daily Mirror learns.   

The issue surfaced in the latest turn of events in Kurunegala when a group of Nikaweratiya Police officials arrested two Excise officials escorting a lorry load of beedi leaves, which had been seized during a raid in Puttalam over the weekend.   

The Nikaweratiya Police seized a lorry plying from Puttalam to Kurunegala on Sunday early morning and searched the vehicle to find a large stock of beedi leaves weighing over 2, 583 kilograms.   
Three persons who were in the lorry had been taken into custody along with its driver and the other two passengers had identified them to be an Excise Inspector and an Excise Corporal who had claimed that they seized the illegal items from a raid.   

The two Excise officials who were attached to the Excise flying squad Bureau of Special Operations (BSO) of Kurunegala District had explained to the police that they had made the detection with their team in Puttalam and were escorting the illicit items to their office in Kurunegala for further inquiries.   

The police had however produced the three persons before the Nikaweratiya Magistrate’s Courts on Sunday evening, where the Magistrate had ordered to remand the lorry driver till today (16) and release the Excise officials on surety bail each amounting to Rs.500,000.   
The lorry driver, who is a resident of Eluwankulama and the two Excise officials, had been asked to appear in court again today.   

A senior official of the Department of Excise told the Daily Mirror that the police had obstructed the duties of the BSO officials and had not shown any cooperation despite the latter’s efforts to identify themselves and explain the situation.   

Also, the efforts made to lodge a complaint against the policemen for obstructing duties, with the Nikaweratiya OIC and the SSP Kurunegala Division had been futile as none had accepted the complaints, the Excise official said.   
He said this is becoming a grave issue as it leads to confusion and hindrance in carrying out their duties as police do not cooperate with the other law enforcement agencies in the country.   
“A similar incident took place a few months ago when the police obstructed an Excise team who were after an underworld gang transporting heroin in Wellawatte, which led to an exchange of fire between the two authorities during broad daylight on the Marine Drive,” the senior official said.   

The incident had been brought to the notice of the Excise Commissioner General Saman Jayasinghe and the top Excise officials are to take the matter up with  Acting IGP Deshabandu Tennakoon via the State Minister of Finance Ranjith Siyambalapitiya in the coming days.   

He further said the Assistant Commissioner of Excise of North Western Province will report facts to the Nikaweratiya Magistrate today on behalf of the apprehended Excise officials.   
A similar incident was reported from Orugodawatta a few months back when a team of Police Special Task Force (STF) personnel intercepted a container load of smuggled cigarettes seized and escorted by the Sri Lanka Customs and produced the illicit items in courts, thus obstructing the duties of the Customs officials.