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DateLine Monday, 28 May 2007

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Police and public confidence

Law and order, no less than economic and survival issues, continues to be a principal concern of the ordinary people of this country. This concern is triggered primarily by the proliferation of crime and the associated human costs with ordinary people falling victim to mounting murderous violence.

A case in point was the recent cold-blooded massacre at Delgoda, where a family of five, including two young children, was hacked savagely to death by a ghoulish murder gang. A principal issue which arises from such horrors is, how safe are the ordinary people from lawless elements?

The law enforcement agencies - including, of course, the Police - are charged with protecting the citizens of the land, but the crime rate and its character proves that the task of enforcing the law is leaving very much to be desired. As a public-spirited newspaper which has the interests of the people at heart, we have no choice but to raise this issue of the satisfactoriness or otherwise of law enforcement, with the authorities.

State agencies, including those charged with law-enforcement, exist for the people and their effectiveness is gauged from the degree to which the public interest is served. From this point of view, some of our law enforcement bodies could not be said to be stretching themselves to the maximum although we do have some excellent law enforcers in our midst.

The common complaint of the public is that although some sections of the Police serve them, the same could not be said of the entirety of the Force. They are not quickly on to the job when complaints are made. Often the allegation is made that those members of the public without any kind of influence are left to their own devices.

Another complaint is that corruption is considerable among some sections of the Police. Yet another complaint is that some elements in the Force are not restrained in the use of coercive force. Stemming from this allegation are the numerous fundamental rights plaints filed against the Police.

These issues are by no means new and we have time and again taken them up in this comment. We do not mean to blindly endorse all these allegations against the Police.

However, there are dangers in being perceived in a bad light by the public. To the extent to which the Police Force is viewed with disfavour even by some, to the same extent would it be devalued by the same sections of the public.

Once again, the Delgoda horror could prove instructive on this score too. The lawless elements which torched the houses of the prime suspects in the Delgoda murders, were taking the law into their own hands because they felt that they could not rely on the police. This act of taking the law into one's own hands is despicable and we condemn it most vehemently.

However, it should not have occurred and it certainly would not have taken place if the Police enjoyed the confidence of all sections of the public. We call on the Police to treat the torching as an eye-opener for a greatly improved effort at law enforcement on its part.

Infrastructure for progress

Better roads with speeds of 120 Kmph and above and 100 - 200 Kmph on rail are in operation. Tests are being done to have rail speed up to 300 Kmph. Road and rail infrastructure in almost all countries is the responsibility of the state. So is development of new roads and rail.

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End game worries international community

There is increasing concern among the international community about the end game being played out in Sri Lanka. There is also a concern that the military option also known as the Chechniyan solution being pursued by Colombo with determination may emerge successful. Last year as we flew into Geneva for peace talks a foreigner had commented that in his opinion the LTTE had run out of steam.

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Ven. Nyanatiloka Maha Thera, 50th death anniversary

The German Buddhist monk Ven. Nyanatiloka Maha Thera was one of the most outstanding and influential Buddhists of the 20th century. He was a pioneer and a missionary, a scholar and a teacher.

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