Police and politics: To protect and serve whom?

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My dear Deshabindu,

I thought of writing to you because everyone is talking about you these days. That is despite not yet being appointed to the top job in the Police–not at the time of writing this anyway, although that might change between now and when this is being read. After all, funny things do happen in Paradise!

For several months, there has been so much speculation about who would get this job after Chandana. He too must be in doubt as to whether he will get another three-month extension or not. Appointing a Police Chief is now like holding local government elections–it is long overdue, but it doesn’t happen!

You must be wondering why there is such a big fuss about appointing someone and why Uncle Ranil is yet to sign on the dotted line. As you know, Uncle Ranil has a lot on his plate these days, what with domestic debt restructuring, dividing the ‘pohottuwa’ party and trying to lure the ‘telephone’ chaps.

Three months ago, when Chandana was originally due to retire, Tiran tried his best to get you the job. That didn’t go according to plan. Having to choose between appointing one of the contenders who all had “outstanding issues”, Uncle Ranil did what he usually does so well: he postponed the decision.

That was after that association representing lawyers issued a statement saying they wanted someone with a record of service that was “exemplary and free of any blemish”. What were they thinking, you must have thought, Deshabindu. Where would you find such officers in the Police Force in Paradise?

Adding to this was the voice of His Eminence. He didn’t want those who neglected duties during the Easter attacks appointed to the top job. That affected one of your rivals more than it affected you, but it damaged you too because you were also named in that Presidential Commission report.

That was the time when that Commission’s report was released two years ago. Then, just like what our politicians usually do, you rushed to Kandy and visited the temples of Asgiriya and Malwatte. There, you complained to the chief priests about this alleged serious injustice being done to you.

With such history behind you and all this noise being made from influential quarters, Uncle Ranil played it safe. He extended Chandana’s term by three months. Maybe he was giving the potential contenders time to clear themselves of their “blemishes”, so he could select someone suitable.

At the time this is being written, those three months have elapsed. I am told Chandana has packed his bags and left his office. Paradise is without a Police Chief now. You must be worried about why you are being denied this job when you did so much more than anyone else to deserve it.

I must confess, Deshabindu, your task hasn’t been easy. You had to switch your loyalties quickly. For more than two years you were saying “yes sir, whatever you say, sir,” to Gota maama. Then, one fine day last July, everything changes.  Suddenly, Uncle Ranil is the new boss you have to please.

After all, one of the lasting images of the ‘aragalaya’ is of you walking alongside that chap Sanath Nishantha as he led a mob of people who then marched on to ‘Gota Go Gama’ and tried to destroy it. That you have not been charged with aiding and abetting that shows how clever you are, Deshabindu!

You also earned a not so honourable mention in another incident at the ‘aragalaya’ when you were accused of tampering with 17 million rupees that Gota maama had left lying around his house when the protestors stormed in and he ran away. Conveniently, you have been cleared of that charge too.

After all these controversies and after serving the ‘R’ clan and the ‘pohottuwa’ chaps so loyally for over two years, it must have been quite a challenge to adapt to Uncle Ranil being in charge. It is to your credit that, like so many of your friends in the ‘pohottuwa’ camp, you have done that quite well.

You quickly realised that Uncle Ranil might need your help too in his new job. So, when he went all out with tear gas and water cannons against protestors demanding local elections, you were there to support him. Now, he must be feeling confident that he can rely on you to do what you are told to do!

So, on the one hand, you must be questioning why your appointment is being delayed. On the other hand, given your age, if you get this top job, you will be in it for the next decade and be in charge of so many major elections. That maybe why, Deshabindu, Uncle Ranil is taking his time to decide.

Yours truly,

Punchi Putha

PS- Even if you haven’t got the job you so desperately want by the time you read this, I still think you are best suited for that position. At a time when the ‘deshaya’ or country has descended to the ‘bindu’ or zero level in all aspects and we are at rock bottom, who better to head our Police than Deshabindu?



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