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Questions over security for BASL Chief

2014 Jul 30

The question involving the security of Sri Lanka Bar Association President Upul Jayasuriya continues with the authorities dragging their feet in providing him with security while travelling. In a latest development the Inspector General of Police (IGP) has informed Mr. Jayasuriya that the latter’s request for such a security detail had been forwarded to the Secretary to the Ministry of Law and Order.

The authorities must be commended for not denying the threat to Mr. Jayasuriya’s life and for not saying that the threat is imaginary or staged. Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne had told parliament that the office of the Registrar of Motor Vehicles (RMV) had found that the numbers of the motor bike and the trishaw that Mr. Jayasuriya had claimed to have trailed him, a few days ago, were faked.

However, it is strange to note that Mr. Jayasuriya’s request for security has been forwarded by the IGP to his superior without responding to it using his powers. Even if the authorities doubt the credence of the complaints Mr. Jayasuriya had made to the police regarding the threats to his life they cannot take a chance and have to provide security to a high-ranking official of the legal community in the calibre of Mr. Jayasuriya until their doubts are proven.

Interestingly, the authorities have found that the numbers of the vehicles that followed the BASL Chief in a suspicious manner were not only forged, but also inauspicious. When the issue was raised in the Parliament by Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, Premier Jayaratne who responded had said that the digits in the numbers concerned when added totalled to 13, which is inauspicious, prompting Mr. Wickremesinghe to say that 13 is considered inauspicious only in the West and not in Sri Lanka.

It is not clear whether the authorities normally check for the inauspiciousness of vehicle numbers involved or allegedly involved in crimes. If not, it is also not clear as to why they checked for the inauspiciousness of the vehicle numbers in this case. If there is an aspect of inauspiciousness in number plates involved in this type of cases it is the person who is under threat has to be concerned about it and not the authorities. And also it is the criminals concerned who would want to convey an inauspicious message to their prey through the number plates, if there is such a practice among them. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister who has to calm down Mr. Jayasuriya took pains to convey that message on behalf of the group that trailed Mr. Jayasuriya.

Upul Jayasuriya is well known for his criticism against some of the recent acts by the authorities. He, along with the BASL was behind the former Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake when the Government brought in an impeachment motion against her last year. He criticized this month’s move by the government to ban press conferences and journalism courses by the NGOs. He was also critical of the police inaction in arresting the last month’s violence in Aluthgama, Beruwala and Welipenna. Hence, it is natural for the country to point fingers at the establishment when his life is threatened. Therefore the onus on the part of the Government is doubled when dealing with this matter, since if something untoward happens, it would be in wholesale credited with the Government’s account.

The country has seen enough of lethargy or denials on the part of the authorities when requests for security are made by vulnerable people who are also critics of the Government. The best cases in point were those involving the killing of Majors General Lucky Algama and Janaka Perera by LTTE suicide bombers for their die-hard stance in the war against the Tigers. Their pleas for additional security were turned down on the grounds that they had been provided security according to the security assessments made by the intelligence services, which were ultimately proven wrong.

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