Murder of a real cop

There has been no breakthrough in the investigations into the brutal assassination of IP Douglas Nimal together with his wife in a Colombo suburb last week. Douglas was no ordinary police officer. He served in the elite STF in the conflict zone for ten years. After his return to Colombo, he was instrumental in seizing a large quantity of heroin and arresting many underworld kingpins. He was one of the only two police officers who had the intrepidity to take on the much-dreaded PSD under President Kumaratunga. Not only did he confront those Oprichniks but opened fire on them during an election in Colombo. The other officer who had the courage to do so was IP Samudrajeeva, who is responsible for a number of successful forays into the underworld and many arrests.

Douglas valiantly pitted himself against big time criminals and, in the process, antagonised their confederates in the Police. So he, together with six other officers and men, was arrested on trumped up charges, interdicted and remanded for 90 days. They were kept in a squalid prison with mentally ill inmates, while well-to-do convicted criminals were living in clover in super cells!

They were finally exonerated from all charges on March 27—on a directive from the Solicitor General, dated March 24, 2006. He walked out a free man but, as was to be expected, he was not reinstated until the time of his killing on April 25. Senior police officers were conspicuous, at his funeral, by their absence. Had his reinstatement been deliberately delayed so that he wouldn’t be killed in uniform?

Paradoxically, Douglas, who survived the enemy in the Eastern Province, came to perish in Colombo among his ‘friends.’ One may wonder whether any breakthrough will ever be made in the probe into his killing, as it is bound to open up not just a can but a barrel of worms for some uniformed elements hobnobbing with crime barons. For, Douglas had threatened to lay bare the true faces of some of his superiors. Did they get together and pre-empt his move by silencing him? Or, did the drug barons and crime czars who didn’t want him back in uniform, take the advantage of the situation and fell him?

Following Douglas’ killing, the morale of the efficient police officers and men who have stood in the line of duty to free the country from drugs and crime has suffered a paralyzing blow. Nothing demoralizes a brave cop more than the sense of being betrayed. We have witnessed the disastrous outcome of the betrayal of the Army long rangers at the Millennium City, Athurugiriya. The Army is today virtually without its most potent weapon against terrorism—deep penetration units.

Recently, there was an attack on the OIC Rasnayakapura (Kurunegala) Pradeep Karunadeera but investigations have apparently been hushed up at the behest of a powerful ruling party politician as the suspects are his henchmen engaged in illegal sand mining in the Deduru Oya. When police officers or men are injured in attacks, their superiors don’t even care to visit them in hospital. This is rather strange in a country where once a Defence Secretary visited an LTTE leader in a Colombo hospital, during the UNF government. (He was bent under a heavy bag of apples and grapes, as we reported at that time.) And today the security forces are getting claymore mines in return for those apples and grapes!

President Rajapakse, upon his induction, promised a drug-free Sri Lanka within one year. But how can that dream be realised with efficient officers and men losing the fighting spirit because of a sense of growing helplessness vis-`E0-vis the collusion between Police high rankers and anti social elements? A prerequisite for accomplishing that mission—which is the dream of every law abiding man and woman—is to protect and reward the men and officers who prove their mettle. And no stone should be left unturned in the pursuit of cop killers and in weeding out treacherous elements in uniform destroying the police from within. They are far more dangerous than all known criminals put together.

The killing of Douglas and his wife has orphaned their children—two girls and a boy. It is the duty of the state to look after them as their father fought for ridding this country of drugs and crime so that all children would have a better tomorrow. While the on-going investigations into their killing must be conducted to a successful conclusion without interference from any quarters, Douglas must be reinstated posthumously and his dues settled immediately. The world must be told that their father was a brave honest officer. Justice demands that!