Why only IGP?

Wednesday 24th April, 2019

Following the Easter Sunday carnage, the government, badly exposed for its failure to ensure public safety, is trying to do something biblical. It is trying to lay all its sins on IGP Pujith Jayasundara and get rid of him. But whether it will be able to hoodwink the public by making a scapegoat of the police chief is doubtful.

The credit for the country’s successful war on drugs has not been given to the IGP or any other senior police officer, for that matter. President Maithripala Sirisena acts as if he were fighting the drug Mafia single-handed. Not to be outdone, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has claimed that but for the 19th Amendment, which his party was instrumental in introducing to pave the way for the National Police Commission (NPC), etc., the ongoing anti-narcotic campaign would not have been successful. Some lines from Brecht’s ‘A worker reads history’ come to mind: Young Alexander conquered India/He alone?/ Caesar beat the Gauls/Was there not even a cook in his army?

When the police carry out successful operations, politicians grab the credit, and when they fail, the blame is laid entirely at the IGP’s feet. Not that the police chief is blameless anent the current security mess, but the blame should be apportioned to the government as well.

A police raid on a training facility, used by the terrorists responsible for Sunday’s attacks, led to several arrests with more than 100 kilos of explosives and about 100 detonators in January. Minister Kabir Hashim has revealed that a powerful politician intervened to secure the release of the suspects in their custody, and one of them carried out a bomb attack on Easter Sunday. Thus, it may be seen that the police were prevented from doing their duty, and if they had been given a free hand to deal with the suspects, perhaps, they would have been able to neutralise the terrorist outfit. The UNP should name that politician who had the terror suspects released and lodge a complaint with the police against him.

The police are still far from independent. The yahapalana politicians control them. There have been numerous instances of political interference with the police under the incumbent government. In December 2016, IGP Jayasundara cut a pathetic figure, on television, when he gave an assurance over the phone, at a public event in Ratnapura, to a minister, who had called him, that the Financial Crimes Division (FCID) would not arrest a certain suspect. The UNP and the SLFP were getting on like a house on fire, at that time, and calls from the Opposition for the removal of the IGP went unheeded.

Ironically, the very politicians who manipulated the Constitutional Council (CC) to get Jayasundara appointed IGP and defended him are calling for his resignation, today. This newspaper was critical of the manner in which Jayasundera’s appointment was made and faulted the CC for overlooking the most eligible candidate nominated by the President. One has reason to believe that the UNP is out for the IGP’s scalp because he refused to follow its orders under the short-lived Sirisena-Rajapaksa government, last year.

The IGP, we repeat, has to share the responsibility for the serious security lapses as regards the Sunday carnage. Similarly, the government must be held responsible for not taking any action, based on the intelligence report which warned of impending attacks. There is no way it can claim that it was not privy to the intelligence warning. Minister Harin Fernando has revealed that even his father in hospital was aware of the impending threats and asked him to stay away from churches. Moreover, former Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe told Parliament, yesterday, that he had come under heavy fire from some ministers and a UNP backbencher in 2016, when he revealed that the National Thowheed Jamath members had been trained by the ISIS. Why didn’t the government care to have his statement probed?

If the IGP is to be removed over Sunday’s terror attacks, the question is why the government must not resign for its failure to prevent them despite having received prior information and intelligence warnings thereof.


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