People of the North and Police Registration

Virakesari Editorial, Sep 20, 2008

Amidst the continuing tensed situation in the country, Tamils being looked at suspiciously and detained for questioning is a continuing saga today; particularly those traveling to the capital from the North undergo severe hardship. Due to this Tamils arriving in Colombo carry on their day to day activities in fear.

People of the North travel to Colombo seeking many essential services in capital Colombo that are otherwise unavailable to them. Shortage of medical facilities, higher education, employment and overseas travel plans and all make it a must for Tamils of North to come to the capital.

Also, numerous Tamils move to Colombo to lead a life in peace, away from being amidst rolling juggernaut of war and destruction.

All of these people continually face search and round up operations of Police and security forces in the capital and detention thereafter for questioning.

Tamils living in Colombo with fear is apparent, as even Tamils with proper documents and identification too are arrested, detained and questioned.

Security officials in the capital say the measures have been enacted to prevent infiltration of rebels and ensure the country is protected.

Highest priority being given to protect the people and country is indisputable; yet question arises, if viewing only a section of the people suspiciously will bring about that desired result in overall safety.

[A Sri Lankan ethnic Tamil man walks past a banner outside a registration center in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, Sept. 21, 2008. Thousands of Sri Lankan ethnic Tamils who have fled the country’s embattled north and are now living in a western province lined up Sunday to give their details, following an order to register with the police. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)-via Yahoo! News]

More Pictures: on Sep 21, 2008 –

In the meantime, 21st September is established as deadline for registration by all Tamils who arrived within the past five years, at respective Police Stations of their residence. The Police Spokesman SSP Ranjith Gunasekera said at a recent media briefing, that this measure is being taken to ensure the protection of people.

People from the North must register at respective Police Stations or assigned Buddhist Viharas along with their family members.

It is also reported that police is taking census of Tamils who arrived from five districts – Jaffna, Mullaithivu, Kilinochchi, Mannar and Vavuniya.

The authorities have also said no proof will be issued for this registration; and during any future instances of questioning and round up operations, National Identity Card, passport and or letter from Grama Sevaka or related document will be required to establish identification again!

Over 60,000 people are estimated to have taken residence in Colombo over the past 5 years. The practicality of all of them, along with their family members registering within the short time frame is questionable; the deadline of September 21st was announced only on September 18th.

In the meantime, people who want to travel to Colombo after the 21st of September are perplexed over the registration requirement and how the procedure is to be adhered to by them.

The registration rules for those who want to come to Colombo after the 21st must be made clearer.

It is important that people are accorded with efficient methods for registering, to avoid long waiting and unnecessary inconveniences.

Also, the language barrier of the people of the North must be taken into consideration.

It is important officers with Tamil language skills must be present at Police Stations to assist in the registration, to ease delays and alleviate difficulties.

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