(April 27, Two news stories that were published in media today can be outlined to show an aspect of the path the Sri Lankan rulers are taking now in the post-war period.
In the first story Sri Lanka Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa says that the police have been directed to launch an operation to eliminate the crime network that erupted through terrorism and spread island wide.
The first and foremost question that arises is this. Are the authorities targeting only the crime network that erupted through terrorism? What about the crime network that was fed by the politicians to maintain politically motivated terror or sheer state terrorism?
Anyway, when the police actions are initiated the goons will have a difficult time. We can expect more incidents of arrested suspects trying to escape when they have gone to show weapons to be shot dead by police in the middle of the night.
One cannot isolate and safeguard the politically influenced crime network since it is intertwined with the other networks. Many of the rowdies that were riding in jeeps of the vehicles of the election candidates of the ruling party will have to go in hiding. Will their bosses risk their lives to save them? Who knows and who cares to recycle these lumpen waste? They will bring new elements from gutters when they want them again. Until then, it is safe to see them gone with all the secrets they know.
The Defense Secretary said addressing a meeting held yesterday after opening a newly set up Sri Lanka Police Academy in Katana that a wave of crime related to arms, drugs, underworld and ransom taking is spread around the country.
The Defense Secretary further stated that the police had to assist the armed forces during the war in the last three decades and police powers could not be fully implemented in taking actions against the crime network.
Mr. Rajapaksa also said that the police official needed to be trained systematically since most of the present officials were recruited during war and they were trained basically on anti-terrorism actions.
The Police Academy opened yesterday in Katana can facilitate training for 600 officials in one batch. The academy is attached to Kelaniya University.
The rulers need to police the country even before they put the economy properly to the track of growth. They have a good chance now to establish and their own past and present of promoting lawlessness seems haunting and policing seems needed thoroughly right from the beginning.
The second news story is related to private buses. This time the author is not a state actor. He is a leader of a small and mediums scale business forum.
The Chairman of Sri Lanka Private Omnibus Owners’ Association Gemunu Wijerathna says that steps will be taken since May 01 to stop begging and hawking in private buses.
He pointed out that these kinds of actions are illegal in accordance with the license issued by the Sri Lanka Central Transport Authority to the private bus owners. However, they continue since the law enforcement authorities do not act with force. Sometimes, bus employees are threatened by the elements that profit through begging and hawking, Mr. Wijerathna said.
Sri Lanka’s private bus industry is ailing due to many problems. The service is low in standard due to reasons like undisciplined behavior of the bus employees, break of road regulations, poor condition of buses, overloading etc. The bus owners have no solutions to these urgent issues. Instead, they want swift action against a lumpen class that make living from the industry.
The private bus industry is also intertwined with the crime network in many ways. Ransom takers run the bus stands. Thugs run buses. Most of the buses were 'decorated' with the posters of President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his general election candidates in the past few months.
Sri Lanka's upper and middle classes look interested in getting rid of the gutter elements that they were engaged in the past. So they need policing against the lumpen elements of the society.
These can be the preliminary actions of a police state. Suppressing of crime network may raise the popularity of the rulers among the middle classes. But the dire need of the government is to police the working classes so that they may not raise the salary issues in future. A 'disciplined' or a silenced working class is the basic need for the government for the rapid economic growth it is targeting in the island.
That is why the police coming before growth.