SRI LANKA: Rapidly becoming like Bihar 

Bihar is one of India’s most impoverished states; it is also India’s most lawless region. From the point of view of crime it has reached the Situation where many local citizens are leaving the area for reasons of security. Abductions for ransom is now commonplace. With the increase in crime, forms of extrajudicial punishment have also become commonplace. The newspapers have published pictures of policemen dragging people tied behind vehicles around the town so as to create fear among the populace. The level of corruption is so overwhelming that no investor would think of beginning any kind of serious investment in Bihar.

Many of the people who leave Bihar are ashamed to call themselves Biharis. Today the title carries a negative image anywhere in India.

Bihar has had a glorious history; it was one of the best known cultural areas where at one time Buddhist universities flourished. However, after independence with internal conflicts emerging within the state and the failures of the administration, it has reached its lowest depths today.

Sri Lanka appears to be following the path of Bihar. The increase in crime in all parts of the country is now bewildering. Just to mention a few well known incidents in recent weeks: a Chief Inspector of the Criminal Investigation Division in Colombo was caught disposing of the body of an Indian chef. He had attempted to throw the body into the sea. It was discovered that this officer was accompanied by a restaurant owner and that the chef had been killed for refusing to work 16 hours a day instead of the 8 hours he was contracted for.

The case of the abduction of a three-year-old girl for ransom of Rs. 700,000/= was reported from Trincomalee. The girl was allegedly kidnapped by someone known to the family who stayed overnight in the same house before the child was abducted. The child was released after the ransom money was paid.

Prior to that incident, two girls, one aged six and the other eight were killed after being abducted, also for ransom which did not materialise in time. The girl’s bodies were found in different locations. In another incident, a young man who was living in the house of his maternal killed his uncle, the aunt and his two cousins, a girl and a boy of aged 14 and 15 over a family dispute. The victims had been chopped to death with an axe and the bodies were found several days after the assassinations. The man confessed and gave the reason for the killings certain remarks made about his mental instability.

A senior monk was found dead within the temple where he had been in charge with serious head injuries. His death was supposed to have been due to a complaint he had made to the police about theft of some coconuts

A young couple traveling on a motorbike was stopped and the lady’s wrist was cut so that the thief could steal her gold bangles. Likewise her finger was cut for the theft of her gold ring. Her husband was shot as he tried to protect her.

A 16-year-old girl from Kalutara, which is close to the capital of Colombo, was abducted from the vicinity of her own home. She was raped and held in a secret location that was in the vicinity for 16 days and the police made no intervention to rescue the girl despite of knowing the identity of the abductor.

Now, there are complaints about a judge who allegedly sexually abused a girl who worked as a domestic helper in his house. Despite of complaints and publicity over the incident no action has been taken against the judge. He continues to sit as a judge.

In similar vein long tales of crimes can be narrated from those areas which are outside what used to be known as the war zone.

In those zones the people who had been stranded after the close of the conflict with the LTTE now live in desperate conditions and are not allowed to return to their homes and have no guarantee of stability.

A great deal of the property which once belonged to these people is now being used for the construction of army camps or is being handed over to developers. The displacement of persons from their houses and from their farms has happened on a large scale without any notice or allocation being made for alternative living. Thousands of families are stranded in this manner and thus are being taken away from the fields where they were making their livelihoods and young people are being displaced in such a manner that they cannot attend school. All this is being justified as necessary steps for the making of roads or allowing room for investors and for the requirements of development.

In none of these matters is the legal process being of any use. The legal process has been crippled by long years of the implementation of the emergency regulations or anti terrorism laws. The powers of the courts have been seriously curtailed and added to this are the usual delays in the court system. The criminal justice has been crippled by the collapse of the entire policing system. This collapse is an acknowledged fact both by the higher authorities of the police, the government and society. There are no designs of any sort to restore the authority of the policing system so that it is capable of guaranteeing law and order.

Like in Bihar, corruption is widespread. Those in power prevent any effective control of corruption.

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AHRC-STM-152-2010
Countries : India, Sri Lanka,
Issues : Rule of law,