Ex-CID Chief takes over as head of NPP’s Retired Police Collective

Monday, 10 June 2024 01:39 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


CID former Head Senior DIG Ravi Seneviratne

  •  Says decision to join NPP was driven by a desire to restore rule of law in SL
  • Highlights instances of Police misconduct such as failure to prevent State-sponsored attack on Aragalaya
  • Stresses need for disciplinary action against officers found guilty of neglecting their duty relating to Easter Sunday attacks
  • Raises concerns on threats received by Collective members and instances of political persecution, including the case of SSP Shani Abeysekara
  • Expresses determination to bring about change and pledged to work towards restoring rule of law with support of the NPP

Police Criminal Investigations Department (CID) former Head Senior DIG Ravi Seneviratne assumed leadership of the National People’s Power (NPP) party’s Retired Police Collective yesterday.

Speaking at the Collective’s National Conference in Maharagama, Seneviratne said his decision to join the NPP was driven by a desire to restore the rule of law in the country, which he believes has deteriorated significantly in recent times. 

Seneviratne elaborated that the group constituting the Collective held extensive discussions with NPP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake over a period of two years. “During these discussions, we conveyed the challenges we encountered, and we were deeply impressed by their sincerity and their earnest commitment to making the required sacrifices to achieve their objectives. Moreover, we received clear and satisfactory responses to our concerns,” he affirmed.

“We established the Retired Police Collective with the aim of fostering a law-abiding society by bringing together individuals who dedicated the prime years of their lives to their duty,” he emphasised. He maintained the Collective was a democratic organisation and its members have no desire to be involved in the country’s law enforcement in an official capacity once more. 

The former CID Chief asserted that those present could assess whether Sri Lanka upholds the rule of law today. He stressed that such a society can only be realised if the Police, the Attorney General’s Department, and the Courts operate independently.

Reflecting on the history of the Sri Lanka Police, Seneviratne highlighted how it was initially established by the British Colonialists to safeguard their own lives and assets. He pointed out that this colonial legacy led to initial resistance from locals, as the institution did not seem to reflect local interests and values. “Despite 75 years passing since independence, the influence of British policies still persists. It is imperative that we change this situation and develop a police force that prioritises the protection of the people,” he emphasised.

“A group was entrusted with the sovereign power of the people for their protection. What does the public expect from the police today? They anticipate that the authority vested in law enforcement will be wielded impartially and that they will be safeguarded. Is this mandate being fulfilled by the police force today?” he asked. 

The senior police official referred to a recent Fundamental Rights petition wherein a group of CID investigators were accused of forcibly bringing the family members of a suspect to the CID for questioning. He highlighted how the court labelled them as ‘State Terrorists’. 

 “Have the people empowered the police to engage in such acts of state terrorism?” he asked. He also pointed out that the police’s failure to take action to prevent the state-sponsored attack on the Galle Face Green citizens’ protest in 2022 resulted in the situation escalating into violence across the country.

“The people took their power back. It took two days for the situation to calm down. Such a situation arose because the police failed to exercise their powers,” he remarked.

The former CID Chief also noted that officers responsible for the incident continue to be in active police service to date. 

“Is this what should happen in a law-abiding society? What supremacy does the law in this country have if a person who was convicted by the court is still in that position?” he asked. 

Seneviratne recounted the persecution faced by the former Director of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), SSP Shani Abeysekara. He stated that Abeysekara became a target of political reprisal due to his honest and independent execution of duties. “In 2019, with the advent of a new government, Abeysekara was unjustly demoted, and around 700 officers under his command were subjected to arbitrary travel restrictions. The injustice did not end there. Abeysekara was wrongfully dismissed on fabricated charges, with evidence coerced against him, leading to his unjust incarceration for 11 months. However, all these injustices were exposed before the Court of Appeal,” he noted. 

He expressed concerns about the independence of the current Police Commission, citing an instance where they sought advice from the Ministry Secretary regarding a matter related to Abeysekara.

Seneviratne highlighted that despite court orders for disciplinary action against police officers who neglected their duty, thereby allowing the Easter Sunday attack to occur, only two low-ranking officers have faced any consequences thus far.

“Is this how everyone is equal before the law? We are here to address these issues. We need to formulate a plan of action and assemble a capable team to execute it. All the investigations we initiated on corruption and fraud have been halted, and some of the accused have been acquitted. Meanwhile, there are instances where the investigating officer is incarcerated,” he remarked. The former CID Chief also revealed that certain members of the Collective had received many threatening calls recently after they joined the NPP.

“The Monaragala District Coordinator recently received a threatening call, prompting us to file a complaint with the Monaragala Police. Subsequently, the individual behind the threatening call identified himself as a member of a specific State organisation and requested the withdrawal of the complaint,” he disclosed.

“The current state of the rule of law is tragic. This is what we are determined to change. By joining the NPP, we express our unwavering faith and commitment to bring about this change. We believe that with strong determination, we will achieve this goal soon. Our efforts, which commenced today, will persist. Additionally, several senior police officials have reached out to me, emphasising the urgency of this change. I pledge before you that I will exert my utmost effort to facilitate this transformation,” Seneviratne declared. 

Former Director of Criminal Investigation Department SSP Shani Abeysekera, former DIG Gamini Navaratne, former DIG D. Gajasinghe, former DIG J.A. Mark, and many other former police officers were also in attendance.