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I have been deeply impressed over the last few weeks by the quality and commitment of police officers in the North. This has not been true in all cases, and indeed on a couple of occasions the police failed to attend the meetings of the Divisional Secretariat Reconciliation Committees to which they had been invited. But on at least one occasion it turned out that the Divisional Secretary had not ensured that the invitation had been delivered, having entrusted the job to a Grama Niladhari who had far more important things to think about.

The police turned up promptly however the moment they were called, and it turned out too that, despite a poorly manned post, just one in Dharmapuram for the whole of the Kandaweli Division, they had dealt promptly with complaints, using the services of the larger station at Kilinochchi. Problems arose only because there was inadequate liaison between local officials and the police, and for this purpose it seemed best to maintain daily contact, with regular meetings once a week to discuss protection issues.

After all, according to their list of duties, Grama Niladharis are the first point of contact for the public when protection issues arise, and in the old days it is possible that the prestige of the postholders allowed them to settle many disputes without recourse to higher authority. In today’s world however, much less obsequious to what should be moral authority, there is need of reinforcements, and the Grama Niladhari and the police should liaise closely, with the involvement also of the other protection mechanisms put in place by the state, Probation and Social Service Officers, Counsellors, and those concerned with Development of Women and Children.

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Rajiva Wijesinha

June 2012
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