Eradication Of Organised Crime In Sri Lanka
- If the criminal justice system fails Sri Lankans then anarchy will surely prevail
Wild animals never kill for sport. Man is the only one to whom the torture and death of his fellow-creatures is amusing in itself.
James Anthony Froude
This column dedicated to the notion of making Sri Lanka the Wonder of Asia turns its spotlight today on the travails of Sri Lankan society caused by the criminal activities of the underworld thereby defeating the aspirations of the Sri Lankans to live in a society free of such activities.
Criminal activities of organised crime syndicates are found in many parts of the world. In Italy, the underworld is known as the Mafia while in Japan it is known as the Yakuza. In China and neighbouring countries the Chinese Mafia is active while in Sri Lanka the underworld is known as the ‘Pathale’.
Wikepedia gives a list of underworld characters who have operated in Sri Lanka: Gonawala Sunil, Arambawalage Don Upali Ranjith alias Soththi Upali, Usliyanage Chinthaka Nalin Perera alias Chinthaka Amarasinghe, Usliyanage Ruwan Dhammika Pereraalias Dhammika Amarasinghe, Ajith Dhammika alias Kalu Ajith, Atapattu Hewasam Liyanage Don Wasantha Dharmasiri alias Kaduwela Wasantha, Baddegane Sanjeewa, Moratu Saman, Koswattage Donald Nihal Wickremasinghe alias Nawala Nihal,Kitulgamaralalage Ajith Wasantha alias Vambotta, Jayakody Arachchige Ruwan Perera alias Olcott, Kamal Dammalarachchi alias Dematagoda Kamal, Sinniah Gunasekeran alias Kimbula-Ela Guna, Thel Baala, Prince Colum, M.K. Imtiaz alias Anamalu Imtiaz,Mohammed Niyas Naufer alias Potta Naufer and Gurusinghange Priyantha alias Neluwa Priyantha. To this list the names of Maradane Choppe, Yakadaya and Maru Sira, who operated in the good old days may also be added.
A good majority of the said characters have been exterminated and dispatched to hell, where they truly belong, by their own counterparts in the world or by the police. At the present time there are several underworld characters engaged in various criminal activities whose names and abodes may be known to the Criminal Investigation Department.
Out of the above characters, Nihal Wickramasinghe or ‘Nawala Nihal’ had many other aliases. But the most noted was the epithet ‘Godfather’. He was similar to the Sicilian Mafia leader, Don Vito Corleone, one of the Grand Conglomerate of American underworld leaders, immortalised by Mario Puzo in his novel ‘The Godfather’. Don Vito Corleone refused to deal in narcotics as he believed it was immoral. He helped the poor and the needy with money and justice in true Mafia style. In similar manner Nawala Nihal did not deal in drugs. His field was the forcible eviction of tenants and grabbing of properties of others by criminal intimidation. He is supposed to have been cremated alive by some of his enemies.
The members of the underworld engage in many criminal or anti-social activities such as the drug trade, houses of ill fame or brothels, gambling dens, night clubs, casinos, contract killings, extortion by criminal intimidation or child abduction, blackmail, illicit liquor trade, child trafficking, housebreaking or burglaries, highway robbery, bank robbery, assault, removal of limbs without anaesthesia and many other such nefarious activities.
As they are organised as gangs sometimes assisted and protected by corrupt politicians and police officers as reported in the media, their activities do not seem to attract the penalties prescribed by law for such crimes. Due to the large amounts of money collected from the said activities they are able to bribe some of the corrupt law enforcement officers, who turn a blind eye to these activities. Some corrupt politicians use such individuals to murder or assassinate their political opponents and media personnel including editors of newspapers whom such politicians consider a threat to their political power.
Most often after the job is done, these foolish underworld characters themselves are murdered to hide their identities or to silence them in order to suppress the details of such crimes, forever. There have been instances in the past when some of these criminals serving sentences in the prisons were released by former Presidents of this country as seen in the case of Gonawala Sunil, who was released by former President J. R. Jayewardene before the Presidential election, on a general amnesty at that time known as ‘Sunil Samawa’. Gonawala Sunil was later made a Justice of the Peace. He was killed in a shoot out with Police on May 20, 2000.
It appears, as Lord Buddha said, that sin follows the sinner as the cartwheel is sure to follow the bull tied to the cart. Sri Lankan society has witnessed the manner in which these wrongdoers were punished even if they were able to evade the law of the land. One such example out of a multitude is that of the underworld character Vambotta, responsible for many murders. He had allegedly started his life by selling vegetables at Sooriyawewa, hence the name Vambotta (Brinjal). He was killed by a rival gang named “Ratnaweera gang” in April, 2006. Recently two brothers, who were army personnel were arrested for the murder of a popular medical practitioner by persons who were connected to another medical practitioner who was conducting a medical laboratory service. The suspects had said that they received only Rs.2000/-for petrol for the said killing and that they regret the killing as subsequently they became aware that the doctor was a very fine person.
These heartless criminals who engage in premeditated murders should face the death penalty, the execution of which needs to be revived in order to protect our society from such moronic killers. The public had taken the law into their own hands to destroy the properties of those who were behind this dastardly crime. Thus it is seen that if the public looses faith in the criminal justice system of our country to deliver just punishment to such criminals, finally anarchy will definitely prevail.
The authorities have recently announced that the Special Task Force of the Police will be used to eradicate the criminal activities of the underworld and that organised crime will be wiped out from Sri Lankan society. Whether this too would end up as the laudable ‘Mathata Thitha’ programme launched by our President is a matter for Sri Lankan society to observe in the future. We, Sri Lankans can only hope and pray that organised crime will be eradicated from our motherland thereby fulfilling the aspirations of our people to live in a society free of such activities, which were never heard of in the times of the ancient kings of Sri Lanka.
Let me conclude in lighter vein with a humourous anecdote concerning an Italian Mafia mobster. An old Italian mobster is dying. He calls his grandson to his bedside, Guido, I wan’ you lissina me. I wan’ you to take-a my chrome plated .38 revolver so you will always remember me.” “But grandpa, I really don’t like guns. How about you leave me your Rolex watch instead?”
“You lissina me, boy…
Somma day you gonna be runna da business, you gonna have a beautiful wife, lotsa money, a big-a home and maybe a couple of bambinos.” “Somma day you gonna come-a home and maybe finda your wife inna bed with another man. Whatta you gonna do then? Pointa to you watch and say, “time’s up”?
Let us hope that the time is up for organised crime in Sri Lanka.