The Sunday Leader

IGP Snubs Orders From Minister

by Hafsa Sabry

The death of a youth in police custody in Pussellawa, NuwaraEliya recently created a stir among the villages as to how a prisoner could commit suicide when in custody. They protested that the police had not done their duties in the appropriate manner.

The villagers gathered in front of the police station demanding the two officers in charge of the station at the time of the youth’s death to be handed over to them. The crowd was dispersed after P. Digambaram, the Minister for Upcountry New Villages, Estate Infrastructure& Community Development arrived at the scene promising the transfer of the OIC, which has yet again created a stir as to how the police duties could be interfered by a Minister.

Responding to the questions the IGP Pujith Jayasundara said the police do not adhere to the instructions given by the ministers, “It is the senior officers of the police commission we take orders, not the ministers or any other officials,” he said.

Nevertheless, the incident occurred in the police station where the particular OIC was in charge of and we are inquiring into the incident as to how the prisoner died under custody, but that does not mean we transfer him in accordance with the instructions given by the Ministers. The police are an independent force where no one can interfere and give orders of what to do and what not to do, he added.

The Minister said if not for the word given by the minister there would have been a tense situation between the police and the villagers who staged a protest as they were demanding the OIC to be handed over to them. “I intervened there to prevent any disturbing situations occurring at the scene. If the protesters had invaded the police station there could have been definitely a crisis between the police and the crowd,” he further stated.

He also said that his intention was not to interfere with the police or to transfer the OIC who was on duty at the time of the youth’s death but to disperse the aggressive crowd gathered there.

However, a comprehensive investigation is being conducted by a special Police team including two Assistant Superintendents as to how the youth committed suicide when there were no possibilities.

It was reported that the duty officer and assistant officers of the Pussellawa Police have been suspended while the Officer In Charge (OIC) has been temporarily transferred to the Gampola Police station.

 

CCTV cameras

To prevent such incidents in future the Minister of Law and Order and Southern Development Sagalab Ratnayaka said a programme to install CCTV cameras to the cells in all police stations to provide better security will be initiated. The minister made these observations in Parliament responding to a question raised by Joint Opposition leader MP Dinesh Gunawardena.He also demanded to know what measures the Government would take to provide security for the people in the estate sector in NuwaraEliya and whether those responsible for the death would be held accountable. He added that no one should die while in police custody.

The deceased was Nadaraja Ramachandran (30) of Rosswile Estate in Pussellawa and that he was arrested by a team of Pussellawa police, including its Officer In Charge (OIC), at Pussellawa town on September 17 at 4.40 pm on the grounds of possessing 750 ml alcohol without a permit. The deceased was apparently put in the cell of Pussellawa police station around 5.15 p.m. wearing a green shirt and blue jeans.

The minister in his response further stated that two cell inspections had been carried out at 6.15pm and 6.45pm, prior to the youth’s death. Accordingly,at around 7.40 p.m. an assistant officer had seen the deceased hanging inside the cell with his green shirt tied around his neck. At this point, Police had taken him to hospital and he was pronounced dead on admission.

It was revealed by the minister that two shortcomings had occurred on the part of the Police in this incident, one being the lack of the scheduled quarter-hourly cell inspections for a period of one hour–from 6.45 p.m. to 7.40 p.m. and the fact that the Police Reserve desk did not have a clear sight of the police Cell, unlike in other police stations where the cells are clearly visible to the Reserve desk.

 

The headline for this article was published last week but the contents were from a different article so we publish the correct article this week.

5 Comments for “IGP Snubs Orders From Minister”

  1. Mahen

    It is far fetched to believe that someone could hang themselves to death with a shirt. Furthermore, it’s funny that someone with a 70cl bottle of alcohol will be remanded while those who illegally imported container loads of ethanol could sit in the parliament?

  2. Mohana Prabath

    Do the Police think that the people in Sri Lanka are damn idiots to think that a person can hang himself from his shirt, t-shirt or underwaer???

  3. garawi

    Well done Mr.IGP. The days the police and the judiciary danced to the tune of the politicians , the king and the crown prince was in a bygone era!

  4. gamarala

    It is not possible for anyone to hang himself in a police cell as the roof is flat concrete with no fixtures and only six feet above the floor, and a shirt cannot be made into a rope strong enough to support a weight of 140 lbs.
    This canard has been given by police many times.
    The judicial post mortem will reveal the cause of death, unless the medical officer is under threat and intimidation.

  5. Yes PUJITHA JAYASUNDARA, YOU CAN BEND THE LAWS BUT CANNOT BREAK THE LAW???
    Aney hari nadutheenduwak ganta beri una haraka!!!

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