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Home > Sri Lanka Grapples With Crime Wave And IGP Turmoil

Sri Lanka Grapples With Crime Wave And IGP Turmoil

C.D. Wickrameratne to get another extension as IGP? More than 75 shooting incidents have been reported across the country this year Special Task Force with the Police and other Security Forces, has initiated special operations to curtail underworld activities By Darshana Sanjeewa Balasuriya

In the recent past, Sri Lanka has witnessed a worrying increase in various forms of criminal activities such as shootings, killings in broad daylight and theft, robbery, and drug-related offenses, raising concerns among citizens and authorities alike. The recent tragic killing of a six-year-old girl in Colombo has sent shockwaves through the community and ignited a strong public outcry.

The girl was killed and her father was injured after two unidentified men on a motorcycle opened fire at their three-wheeler near the Maligakanda Magistrate’s Court.

This heartbreaking incident has prompted serious concerns regarding the ability of the police and law enforcement agencies to ensure public safety and effectively combat crimes.

According to police reports, more than 75 shooting incidents have been reported across the country this year alone, resulting in the loss of over 40 lives and leaving many others injured. Furthermore, sources indicate a rising trend in the illicit drug trade, contributing to a significant increase in drug-related crimes and underworld activities.

In response to these challenges, a committee, led by Senior DIG Deshabandu Tennakoon, was appointed to investigate and propose measures to combat drug and underworld activities. This committee operates under the guidance of Public Security Minister Tiran Alles and is responsible for assessing the current situation and recommending effective strategies to address these issues.

However, amid the escalating crime rates, the role of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) is crucial for maintaining law and order.

The recent turmoil surrounding the appointment of an IGP has created a leadership vacuum that has had dire consequences.

The present IGP, C.D. Wickramaratne, who received a three-month service extension from President Ranil Wickramasinghe, is set to conclude his tenure on September 26 after multiple extensions.

The tussle for the IGP post has been marred by allegations of political interference. This has eroded public trust in the police force and hindered its ability to function independently.

Sources said that C.D. Wickramaratne may receive another service extension from the President, further prolonging the uncertainty surrounding the IGP appointment.

Meanwhile, the power struggle for the IGP post has created divisions within the police force, with some officers aligning themselves with different factions vying for the position. This internal conflict has further weakened the force’s ability to tackle crime.

According to the current seniority list, Senior DIGs Nilantha Jayawardena, L.S. Pathinayake, Deshabandu Thennakoon, and Ajith Rohana are among the contenders for the topmost position. However, there has been strong opposition from several civil organizations, the Catholic Church, and the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) against Senior DIGs Nilantha Jayawardene and Deshabandu Tennakoon due to certain allegations against them. In the wake of the race to the IGP post in March where Wickramaratne was given an extension, seven Senior DIGs, some of whose names were in the line for the IGP post have been transferred.

At that time several SDIGs including Ajith Rohana had accused the Public Security Minister, alleging they were subject to malicious, unreasonable and unjustifiable transfers. Rohana alleged that the minister did all these malicious acts to harass them and to protect a particular SDIG. SDIG Rohana also filed an FR petition requesting to issue an order invalidating the letter issued by the IGP to transfer him to the Eastern Province.

There is no doubt that the public’s confidence in law enforcement has led to decreased cooperation between the public and the police in solving crimes.

Earlier, the Catholic Church and Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) urged that it is essential for political leaders to prioritize the appointment of a qualified and impartial IGP.

Meanwhile, the Public Security Minister said he is taking proactive measures to bring down the alarming crime rates in the country In response to concerning trend of crimes, the minister said that the Special Task Force, in collaboration with the Police and other Security Forces, has initiated special operations to curtail underworld activities.

He said that the Police Department is working on a non-political agenda and is always committed to protecting the law and order of the country at the highest level.

He said that decisive actions have already been taken to put an end to such activities. “The Security Forces have been given clear instructions to use necessary force when required,” he said.