5th Column

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My dear IGP Chandana,

I thought of writing to you because you were granted a three-month extension as the top cop of the country when thousands of other public servants are forced to retire on their 60th birthday. I suppose I should say congratulations, but your extension is also a reflection of the sad state the Police is in now.

In the lead up to your much anticipated retirement, there was a lot of speculation about who would replace you. Potential successors lined up stating their qualifications and staked their claims. They visited soothsayers. They made vows to deities and bodhiyas. Talismans were worn under uniforms.

Why, one of them even leaked the ‘news’ that he will be appointed as your successor, even before it happened. As a result, many media outlets, newspapers and television stations announced that ‘Desha Bindu’ had been chosen to succeed you. Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry!

This is, however, Paradise where God and Uncle Ranil work in mysterious ways these days. The latter, who sometimes behaves like he is the former, resorted to his favourite strategy; watchful expectation and masterly inactivity. That is how you got your three-month extension, Chandana.

I am not surprised at all that you were given a further three months at your job. Uncle Ranil is a grateful person. He would have looked at all that you have done, especially in the past few months, and realised there is no other person in the Police who could be a better loyal and faithful servant.

During the days of the ‘aragalaya’, you didn’t do much, maybe because Gota maama underestimated its significance and didn’t ask you to crackdown, especially after the incidents at Mirihana. Then, when all hell broke lose on May 9 and houses were set on fire, your men watched on and did little.

Those ‘pohottuwa’ chaps who had their houses burnt blamed you for that, we remember. We also recall how you told them that you could do very little when the OICs in the various Police stations were people handpicked by those very people – the ‘pohottuwa’ MPs – who were accusing you.

I am sure Uncle Ranil wouldn’t have been too unhappy. That is because it was the incidents on May 9 that led to Mahinda maama’s resignation. That is what led to Uncle Ranil’s appointment as PM. That is also what led to Uncle Ranil getting the top job when Gota maama had to run for dear life on July 9.

Since then, Chandana, you and the force you command have looked like a different outfit. You have attacked protest after protest, fired plenty of water cannons and tear gas and made sure that the ‘aragalaya’ died a slow death. Even attempts to celebrate its anniversary on Friday were snuffed out.

Your men have been selective in who you arrest, detain and prosecute. They are quick to pounce on Wasantha, Damitha or Hirunika but they look the other way when a court orders them to arrest and produce Lady Diana who is being charged with holding high office while not even being a citizen.

Then, those who have been found by the highest court in the land to be negligent in failing to prevent the Easter attacks four years ago have been promoted. Now, these officers are among those vying to succeed you. Are inefficiency, ignorance and corruption vital qualifications for your job, Chandana?

There are times when the Police can be very efficient, though. That is when accompanying suspected criminals to a place where weapons are stored, when the criminal attacks them and are usually shot dead. There are fears that this drama will be enacted again for some recently detained suspects.

With all this happening, it must have come as a great shock to you when Saliya, the lawyers’ boss who recently stepped down, asked that your replacement be an officer who has no cases pending against him or have any allegations of involvement in unlawful activity made against him.

Uncle Ranil doesn’t like to take Saliya’s advice, but it appears as if, in this instance, he has. He would have looked around your Police force for the type of ‘officer and gentleman’ that Saliya is asking for and found that he had none he could recommend. So, he has decided to give you an extension.

The story goes that you were given the three-month extension, so ‘Desha Bindu’ can settle the cases pending against him and once again stake a claim for your job. On the other hand, I think Uncle Ranil knows what you must be feeling: After all, he too is on someone else’s extension, until late next year!

Yours truly,

Punchi Putha

PS: If the plan is for ‘Desha Bindu’ to ‘settle’ his cases in three months, you needn’t worry. Our  justice system is so slow that cases about elections due in April are heard in May, so you may be in your job for many months. If those cases do get settled though, the ‘Deshaya’ will go to ‘bindu’!


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