Sri Lanka polity on the verge of the limit of bearing police atrocities

(August 15, 2009 - Lanka Polity) Sri Lankan polity seems at the brink of the limit of the patience on the ongoing spate of police atrocities.

On August 13, Angulana police station situated around 10 km south of Colombo was attacked by the residents of the area following the recovery of the bodies of two youths that were arrested the previous day in relation to an incident of indecency towards a woman.

The two victims, Dhanushka Udaya Kumara (21) and Dinesh Tharanga (27) were the residents of houses close to Angulana Cooperative Shop. The mother of Dinesh Tharanga, Devika Vinifreeda says that she visited her son and his friend that were in police custody in the night of August 12th. However, when she went to visit them again in the following morning, the officers had told her that the suspects were released.

The police spokesman Ranjith Gunasekara said that there are no entries regarding the said arrest in police files. A spokesman of Mount Lavinia police station said to Dinamina newspaper that the suspects had been the members of an underworld gang and they might have been killed by a rival gang. However, on August 14, the same Mount Lavinia police produced five suspects including the Officer-in -Charge of Angulana police station in the magistrate court with a B report related to homicide.

The bodies of the two youths were later recovered with gunshots near a bridge located close to Angulana police station and on the railway line. The angry residents of the area attacked the police station with clubs and stones injuring officials including the Officer-in-Charge T.M.D. Newton. Police Department later transferred the officials to other stations.

Before the public protest mounted the Police Department attempted to transfer the officials and to close the file of this brutal murder. Transferring of junior officials is the only action taken against the police offenders in Sri Lanka in recent times. In another incident, five police officials of the Colombo Crime Division were also transferred with regard to an incident of torture of a student of an IT campus in Malabe, around 20 kilometers away from the capital city.

the student, Nipuna Ramanayaka, was severely tortured by the wife and a offspring of the director of the Colombo Crime Division SSP Vaas Gunasekara. At the moment of the writing, the media reported that SSP Vaas Gunawardhana had been transferred to Police Headquarters with immediate effect. No action against the police officer's wife and son has been taken so far despite repeated questioning of the media.

Meanwhile, the alleged police officer is accused of staging a drama of recovering a suspected Tamil Tiger van laden with large amounts of explosives. Another senior police officer who is in charge of the area the recovery was made has challenged that the said recovery is a farce. Media accuses that SSP Vaas Gunawardhana staged this drama to cover from disgrace caused by the allegations against his wife and son that are publicly enjoying impunity.

Recently, Sri Lankan Minister of Human Rights Mahinda Samarasinghe spoke of police actions violating human rights of one of his staff members that was arrested in an illegal manner with weapons.

Most of the police arrests in Sri Lanka violate the law and can be categorized as abductions. No warrants are produced; suspects are not explained the causes for the arrests and no receipts are issued to the families in accordance with Presidential directions. The IT student who was tortured by the police family says that the police threatened him to be killed alleging him to be a member of an underworld gang.

Police often gun down the suspected underworld goons and say that they attempted to escape whilst they were taken to show the hidden weapons.

Human rights organizations allege that the government's measures to suppress the underworld have opened wide space for police atrocities. Summary killings of underworld figures in the guise of opening fire at them as they attempt to escape save the persons that give contracts to the underworld.


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