Sri Lanka's IGP race splits the police
By Our Police Correspondent
Apr 02, 2016 06:29 AM GMT+0530 | 5 Comment(s)
ECONOMYNEXT - Intense campaigning and lobbying by the two seniormost officers in the police to replace outgoing Inspector-General N. K. Illangakoon has led to a split within the ranks, top officials said,.
Senior Deputy Inspector-General Pujith Jayasundara has launched the most intense social media campaign to drum up support for his cause and published his own website (http://pujithjayasundara.com) last month.
His main rival, Senior DIG S. M. Wickramasinghe, has no known facebook campaign, but sources within the police said he has been lobbying politicians as well as religious dignitaries to secure the top slot by mid-April.
The two men with identical seniority in the police have built their own following within the ranks as well as within religious circles.
With the battle intensifying, outgoing Illangakoon weighed in saying he had never gone behind politicians asking to be given the top job in the department.
"Even when I was the second in command of the police force, holding the rank of Senior DIG Administration, I never expected to become IGP. Because of this quality, I have never been side-lined,” he said at a police department function in Colombo on Thursday. But, splits in the police have begun under Illangakoon’s watch.
Officers in charge of stations and divisions have been pledging their loyalty to Jayasundara and those who do not are seen as being in Wickramasinghe's camp. Both have sought endorsements from Buddhist monks.
Wickramasinghe is currently in charge of President Maithripala Sirisena's security despite several lapses, including the smuggling of a revolver by a bodyguard of MP Namal Rajapakse to a meeting attended by the head of state last year.
The army officer who smuggled the weapon was arrested, but Wickramasinghe was spared with just a rap on the knuckles. He was a loyalist of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa too.
A wikileaks published a cable from the US embassy in Colombo 2010 described DIG Wickramasinghe as an officer "trusted" by Rajapaksa to help at the 2010 parliamentary elections.
Last month, the Presidential Commission of Inquiry to Inquire and Investigate into Serious Acts of Fraud and Corruption (PRECIFAC) forwarded a complaint against Wickramasinghe to the Bribery Commission.
Police insiders say Jayasundara has been highlighting the allegations against his main opponent Wickramasinghe, driving men in uniform to take sides in what is turning out to be a bitter battle.
Wickramasinghe loyalists have been quick to point out how Jayasundara once punished all men and women of a police station in the Batticaloa district by ordering them to kneel and hold their ears as punishment.
Many outside the department say Jayasundara's unconventional punishment of errant constables, including women, should be commended and considered a qualification to become the next IGP.
He has posted pictures of himself on a white horse with fans hailing him as the next IGP.
Both Wickramasinghe and Jayasundara have the same seniority with just eight months of more service than the third placed C. D. Wickramaratne, the Senior DIG currently in charge of the Southern and Sabaragamuwa provinces.
Dark horse Wickramaratne maintains a low profile, has no social media campaign nor is he known to have lobbied religious dignitaries, but is said to have a wider experience serving in key units, including intelligence.
The downside to Wickramaratne, insiders say, is that being the youngest out of the three, he could serve another seven years if appointed IGP.
Such tenure would make his position strong in an environment where the independence of the department is guaranteed by the 19th amendment to the constitution and the independent Police Commission.
President Sirisena is reported to have called for the curriculum vitaes of all three senior officers before making up his mind and sending his nominee to the Constitutional Council for ratification.
In the meantime, a mean but silent battle is raging within the police. (COLOMBO, April 2, 2016)