The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) has arrested an underworld gang led by a top cop`s relative notorious for organised crime, according to our main news item yesterday. Murder, armed robberies including the recent heist in Nugegoda, forgery, abductions, extortion, land grabs and a large number of other criminal activities have been blamed on this gang which is said to have had the blessings of the police officer concerned.
This is not the only criminal gang with links to the police. Behind almost every underworld group, there is a police officer as well as a powerful politician. It is thanks to their involvement that the underworld has allegedly divided the city of Colombo into separate `crime zones` to carry out their sordid operations in a systematic manner. Hardly a property transaction gets carried out without protection money being given to underworld kingpins. Even the big real estate companies are unable to defy those extortionists, as they are so powerful due to their political connections. A few years ago, we reported how a crime czar had arrived in a leading lawyer`s car to receive kappan (protection money) only to be arrested by a special police team, which had been following him. Lawyers, too, are in league with criminals. They are facilitating land grabs by helping them with forgery of land registry documents. Some members of the black-coated fraternity are appearing for criminals, free of charge! So strong are their bonds! Therefore, those `criminal lawyers` in cahoots with the underworld must also be probed and dealt with appropriately, as part of the on-going operations against organised crime.
The Colombo underworld is controlled by three politicians. We stop short of naming them for legal reasons but suffice it to say that, if the government is genuinely interested in eliminating organised crime, it has to turn the searchlight inward and probe its own politicians who are shielding drug dealers and other unsavoury elements. The government leaders who let their pictures appear in massive cutouts sponsored by those social undesirables, should remember that in so doing they only sully their image and incur public opprobrium.
The nexus between the underworld and some corrupt elements in the police has had a debilitating impact on the police department as a whole. Information of raids is leaked out to criminals and there have been instances of drugs seized in raids becoming wheat flour when sent for analysis, thanks to inside help! It is believed that some hirelings in the police were behind the killing of the famous officer IP Douglas Nimal and his wife in a Colombo suburb last year. He had conducted several successful raids and brought a number of sharks in the narcotics trade to book. And in the process, he had trodden on the corns of some of his superiors in cahoots with drug barons. Charges were trumped up against him and he was arrested. However, he was released later and at the time of his death he was planning to take those rotten eggs in uniform to courts. His children have been orphaned and no breakthrough has been made in the probe into the killing of their parents. That has been the reward for an officer who proved his mettle. Similarly, the police top brass sides with ministerial brats when they set upon PNB sleuths at night clubs during raids. What a way to inspire the police to combat crime!
A few weeks ago we reported an extortion racket, where the underworld thugs operate in shopping malls in Colombo, claiming that a part of their kappan goes to senior police officers. The veracity of their claim is yet to be established. However, it is public knowledge that some high ranking police officers are being sponsored by the underworld. Else, how can they own fleets of buses and sport gold chains which are as thick as `coir ropes`? (They look like mobile jewellery shops!) Although the law doesn`t prohibit such ostentatious display of opulent lifestyles, it is the duty of the taxman to ask those cops a few questions about their income. Remember we are not short of police and military personnel thriving on terrorist funds as well. It was only recently that a police officer was arrested in the company of a terror suspect with a large amount of money in the South.
The government may make a big show of its `war on crime` but with the cronies of criminals occupying the top positions in the police, how can crime be combated successfully? Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (Who will guard the guards?) Philosophers like Socrates may have thought the guards would guard themselves against themselves. The guards may do so in any other republic but not here. It looks as if the police had to be made to crack down on themselves before taking on the underworld.