Barricades are fast disappearing but not the security checks in Sri Lanka, The three cops who stopped me on Nawala Road this morning, closer to noon were in the blazing hot sun minus the shading of the protective metal roofing. Definitely painless for me to roll down a window and give my identity card, but couldn’t have been for the khaki clad blokes.
However, I remember a more stressful incident of being halted by 3 STF guys with the automatics pointed at me. Time was closer to 8pm and I had been working late and was leaving the office and was about to turn into Galle Road. Instructions were to reverse away from the main road, switch off the engine and sit still inside the car. I didn’t see any VIPs or hear the dreaded noise of a bomb. After sitting dry mouthed for about 15 minutes the yellow barricades were removed and I was allowed to move on.
The Supreme Court booted out the barricades, even their own ones outside the Supreme Court complex after their landmark ruling earlier this week. Probably, saluted and waved on, the law chiefs never noticed these barricades till the fundamental application by citizen W.I.S. Fernando (note the name change from an earlier report.) came up for deliberation.
Some say the city minus the ubiquitous barricades and checkpoints look far better but are quick to admit that the fear psychosis temperature has been raised.
Looking good is not enough for most. Despite the grumbling they had the psychological satisfaction of thinking that there security was maintained by these barricaded check points.
The Daily Mirror (12/7) in an article titled Military Struggling with Security as the LTTE targets civilians said “Analysts believe that it is necessary to reinforce the security in the country at this time when the government is engaged in military operations against the Tamil Tigers in the northern front.”
The report said that there were a large number of security gaps, which can easily allow anyone to infiltrate without any disturbance into the cleared areas. “Intelligence units had already warned the government that there are several key places that would be targeted by the LTTE — The Colombo harbour, reservoirs, power plants, the Oil Refinery, government buildings, the World Trade Centre twin towers, and the city of Kandy are said to be among the primary targets of the LTTE. “
“The Intelligence services had warned of an LTTE plan to attack several major cities simultaneously including Colombo and Kandy and cause widespread panic and fear among civilians. LTTE intelligence cadres disguised as beggars, disabled people and other unsuspicious characters have already been deployed to gather intelligence and carry out attacks on these targets, intelligence reports had indicated.”
Questions have also been raised about the competency and efficiency of these officers amid many allegations.
The dilemma and the challenge now will be to see how security needs of citizens can be addressed while fundamental rights are not abused.
Colombo will be willing to talk to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) for a political roadmap to resolve the conflict in the country but issues like ceasefire will not be discussed, visiting Sri Lankan foreign minister Rohitha Bogollagama said in an interview with India’s the Asian Age newspaper published today.