The 34th Inspector General of Police [IGP] Pujith Jayasundera has been appointed by President Maithripala Sirisena on a recommendation by the Constitutional Council [CC]. The new IGP as those of the past has pledged to carry out his duties in law enforcement without fear or favour in keeping with the laws of the land. It is hoped, he will keep up to his pledge and bring the Police Force to its pristine glory, respect and admiration and expectations of the law-abiding citizens had during the colonial regime and a few years after this country gained independence. All that is possible, if only, he does not give in to the dictates of politicians of whatever rank and follow the correct recruitment procedure to the Force from Constable to the highest post. This reminds me of an incident where my elder brother far back in early 1940s sent an application to join the Police Force as a Sub-Inspector. One day, the Village Headman, a Muslim, while passing my home, seeing my mother inquired whether her son had applied to join the Police Force as a Sub-Inspector. When my mother replied in the affirmative, the Headman said that he has received a letter to report on the background of the family and whether there had been criminal charges against the family including grandparents. With a smile he went his way.
Soon after, about two weeks later, a Police Constable called over at our house, inquired after my brother to hand over a letter calling him for an interview. Those days, a visit of a Police Officer was considered a disgrace and the people around were eager to find out the reason for this visit.
My brother went down to Colombo for the interview and returned disappointed as he was not selected due to a fraction of an inch being short in his chest measurement. This narration is only to show what strict procedure was adopted to recruit persons from respectable families to the Police Force. Persons so selected not only performed their duties correctly, but were mindful to safeguard their family name.
Alas! What is the procedure today? A recommendation from a politician is a must and invariably those recommended were from questionable families, Kassippu Mudalali or the son or relation of a thug in the area or a tree climber who helped the politician at the elections to tie posters and banners. It is my view that correct recruitment with recommendations from the Principal of the school where the applicant had received education and the local clergy, be it Buddhist Monk, Christian Priest, Muslim Maulawi or a Hindu Kurukal. A recommendation from a politician should definitely be a disqualification. This reminds me of that legendry DIG Sidney Soyza, who is said to have placed the letter of recommendation of a politician under the foot of an applicant, when measurements were taken disqualified him for being short in height.
It is a Herculean task before the newly appointed IGP, but a start has to be made some time somewhere. This he could, taking advantage of the independent Police Commission set up by the present government ensuring no interferences in carrying out duties by law enforcement officers – Police.
We, the citizens, hope for the best and prepare to face the worst is what we should keep in mind.