Supreme Sacrifice!

By Manekshaw

‘Shanthi’ pooja a ritual performed to keep away the evil elements to begin any auspicious event was performed on Thursday (26) around the historic Nallur Kanthaswamy temple premises prior to the flag hoisting ceremony of the annual 25-day festival of the temple yesterday(28).

The ritual to keep away the evil elements also covered the spot on the Southern Gopuram street of the temple where the shooting incident occurred resulting in the death of Sub Inspector Sarath Premachandra, the Police bodyguard of the Jaffna High Court Judge M. Ilanchelian a week ago.

Soon after the separatist war ended in 2009, streamlining the civil administration along with strengthening the efforts of restoring law and order were prioritized with reopening the Police stations and Court houses in the war-torn Northern Province.

Prior to the mid seventies Government officials hailing from the Southern part of the Island considered serving in Jaffna as a great pleasure.

However, the calm and serene atmosphere of Jaffna Peninsula turned upside down with the emergence of Tamil militancy in the region.
Initially the armed struggle started with the ‘hit and run’ shooting incidents and the attacks carried out on the Police stations. Bank robberies and crippling of civil administration becoming the order of the day, Police personnel, particularly the innocent Tamil Police personnel became the soft targets for trigger happy gunmen identifying themselves as Tamil freedom fighters.

The massive attacks carried out in the early eighties at the Jaffna and Chavakachcheri Police stations with the looting of armouries at those stations led to the total collapse of the law and order paving the way for gradual increase of the Armed forces in the Peninsula.
However, it’s nearly after thirty years with the end of the war some of the recent incidents in the Jaffna Peninsula have highlighted that stabilizing law and order still remain a huge challenge for law enforcement officials in the region.

A couple of weeks ago Northern Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran held a special meeting with Senior Police officials in the Jaffna Peninsula.

Chief Minister Wigneswaran who has been emphasizing on granting more Police powers to the Northern Provincial Council, pointed out the need of more young Tamil men and women joining the Police force to streamline the law enforcement activities more effectively in the Northern Province.

So, it was in the backdrop of the efforts having been mooted to strengthen the Police administration in the North, Jaffna High Court Judge’s body guard Sub Inspector Sarath Premachandra died in the line of duty.

The untimely death of Sub Inspector Sarath Premachandra who had been a loyal Police officer serving High Court Judge Ilanchelian and the manner the High Court Judge reacting to Premachandra’s death has very well highlighted that despite Illanchelian and Premachandra being from two different ethnic and religious backgrounds, the loyalty of Premachandra towards High Court Judge Ilanchelian was beyond his official commitments, and the Police officer was more a family member to the High Court Judge than his official bodyguard.

The US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Atul Keshap was one of the first dignitaries to announce that he was moved by the manner High Court Judge Ilanchelian wept before Sub Inspector Sarath Premachandra’s wife and expressed his condolence to her when she arrived at the Jaffna Teaching Hospital to receive her husband’s body.

People of all walks of life in the South were appreciative of the manner Ilanchelian paid his last respects to his bodyguard who had been in his service even during the time the judicial officer was serving in various parts in the Northern and Eastern provinces when the separatist war was in progress.

The attack on High Court Judge Ilanchelian’s body guard Sub Inspector Premachandra has been carried out, when the Trial-at-Bar case of the murder of School girl Vithya Sivaloganathan is in progress with Ilanchelian being one of the three sitting judges.

The Jaffna Court complex building came under severe attack when the suspects arrested in connection with the Vithya Sivaloganathan murder was brought to the Court house under heavy security in May 2015.

The attack on the Jaffna Courts Complex even made the Former Chief Justice K. Sripavan visit the scene and make directives on ensuring the safety of the Court house.

So the attack on High Court Judge Ilanchelian’s body guard Sub Inspector Premachandra while show casing the uneasy situation which still prevails in the post-war Jaffna Peninsula, the sentiments expressed towards the untimely death of Sub Inspector Premachandra in the North was immense.

It was for the first time the entire Northern and Eastern provinces have condemned the malicious attack on a Police officer from Southern part of the country and condoled with his family over his untimely death.

Therefore, the demise of Sub Inspector Premachandra was in every way a supreme sacrifice showing the path for peace and reconciliation which is still wide open to stabilize unity and integrity in the country.

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