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Security detail at Department of Immigration and Emigration: Herding cattle or assisting the public?


Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Wednesday, 24 January 2018 00:00

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Date is Thursday the 18th. I am waiting outside the Department of Immigration and Emigration for the arrival of a puppeteer from Sweden, his wife and their two-year-old son Nino. Nino is a bundle of joy and cannot stay in one place. His legs work on their own accord. They are on a short vacation and need a few days of visa extension.

Whilst waiting I cannot help noticing the team of security officials all around me. They are all dressed in black. Looks important and act important. The air is shrilled with their constant blowing of whistles. They remind you of PSD, PMSD, MSD and the personal security details of Tri-Commanders; very businesslike. There’s no politeness or kindness; their only job is herding cattle.

I spend the whole morning with my friends for what’s essentially a one hour job and finally the job gets done. It was noon when we stepped out and decided to wait on the terrace for the arrival of the cab. Nino gets attracted to the water fountain a few metres away and rushes there. The security guy right next to me springs to action and shouts at Nino and parents to get back. I look around and see no reason for his panic. He says it’s dangerous as vehicles could come by. I tell him Nino is from Stockholm and is used to far more cars all his life. I also point out to him that I have seen no vehicles going that way for all the time waiting there. 

He says the Minister could come. I say let him come as I personally know how people-friendly he is – whatever the party he chooses to represent. He says it’s his responsibility and I point out that we’re on public property and this isn’t a prison. He says he has orders from bosses not to let anyone go near the water fountain. I point out to him that these people are the reason he is employed and he needs to be a little more polite to them. My Swedish friends don’t have to understand Sinhala to understand the tension and the reason for it. Their question is what’s wrong with a child wanting to get near a water fountain on a hot day. I don’t know what to say. I can’t explain plain stupidity of a village youth given a uniform, training and power to bully people. I can’t explain the remnants of ‘Gota Culture’.

I am later told that security is handled by the Sri Lanka Army. I am still searching for the officer responsible. Not that it matters much but I am just curious to find out who trained him at Diyatalawa. Whoever leads them must be pretty smart as he seems to have mastered the art of the quickest way to empowering village youth; had they been issued with sticks, his job would have been perfect!  

Dissa


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