Plain cloths “Inteligence operatives” at check points


They were dresses liked street thugs pulling chariots over at a “check point” on Dutugamunu street. There were only two police constables around. Plain cloths guy claimed to be from the “Intelligence branch” (Buddi Ang-sha-ya in Sinhala). The driver of our chariot was not pleased. Challenged them – claiming that anyone could make the claim. Demanded the “intelligence” guy’s ID. For which all he could mumble was that this check was for our security.

One of the constables ambled over and started going through the ritual of glancing at everyone’s ID. I was in the back seat and they couldn’t even SEE my face. But they glanced at the back of my ID for the requisite 2 seconds all the same. Meanwhile the driver as down to accusing the plains cloths guy for being an LTTE operative. Ah the bravery. I merely begged him to get moving since the check point wasn’t interested in us.

We could have had a trunk full of claymores and they wouldn’t have caught us.

I’m resigned to the fate that most of Colombo’s security is ritual. Often involving a sniff at an ID card to see if it has a Tamil name. The LTTE has gotten around ethnic profiling by buying its ID cards and other documents. Sri Lankan National ID cards go for about Rs5000/- a pop (though that might have gone up with the cost of living – most bribes have). Don’t ask me how I know – that’s another post I’m wise enough not to write. Suffice it to say that I don’t have LTTE contacts. I just keep my mouth shut and ears open when ever I’m taken along for dinners with people in the know.

What bothers me is that these plain cloths guys could be anybody. Underworld kidnap squads. Perhaps even LTTE operatives. My gut feeling at the checkpoint was that they were underworld types (who could be also be intelligence operatives. πŸ˜‰

It is traditional that when it comes to a crunch the organised crime side of Sri Lanka’s politics comes to the surface like crocodiles. Like it did during the late 1980s during the JVP uprising. The scary thing is that the LTTE can easy buy off the underworld (as if they haven’t already).

Time to stop writing.

Not because a dumb blogger like me who doesn’t post recordings of conversations online has much credibility. Sometimes its best not to speculate. Or pretend to do so about conversations that took place while you were supposed to be innocently sipping your Elephant House Ginger Beer.

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14 thoughts on “Plain cloths “Inteligence operatives” at check points

  1. Went out of Colombo today. Saw villagers stopping and checking vehicles. Even if they are genuine could lead to a lot of problems.

    1. Thieves pretending to be villagers could stop and possibly steal small valuables.
    2. The villagers are completely untrained. Strained tempers (who likes being stopped) could lead to arguments to fights to perhaps vigilante justice?

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  2. Jack Point Quite right it all sounds dangerous. At least the check point I got stopped at had Police officers.

    vigilante justicehas nothing to do with justice. Just a differently marketed violent revenge.

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  3. Hmm yea cerno the bomb threat is scaring us all. So many years I was on a stiff position that SL is a very good place to study and also do a job. But yday my girl asked are u still in that opinion. Well I love sri lanka so the face of it I said I am. But my heart says “what is happening to our lanka? Better to leave.”. Well I know sometimes we have to bear this and finish these buggers … Well … I donno… Are we having enough strength cerno? And better Q will be how long We have to stay in fear … Hmmm

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  4. niro Those are very valid points.

    Oddly I’m not scared about the bombs or the LTTE. Its the infiltration of organised crime & criminals into positions of power that worries me. Maybe its not a very visible thing like a bomb blast. Even if the war ends today those guys will keep climbing like the way they have over the last 40 or so years.

    If I had to leave, it would be for a host of economic and other pressures. Not due tot he LTTE. Even then I’ll keep an eye on the country for the first available opportunity to come back in some sort of way.

    Till then I’ll avoid public places and take the back roads. No terror group has EVER succeeded to achieve anything with bombs alone.

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  5. Things just seem to be getting from bad to worse! It is very sad. And pls be careful when you right anything political…

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  6. Indyana Thank you πŸ™‚ no worries – I’m not writing anything anywhere a political as the other guys indi

    Besides, I don’t think the politicians have wised up to blogging just yet. πŸ™‚ And things are not as bad as it could be.

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  7. I didn’t venture too far afield yesterday just to be on the safe side, but what Jack Point says about villagers stopping cars doesn’t bode well for the future. That’s just one step away from the street “justice” that can be meted out to anyone who is not of the majority race and religion. These are scary times.

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  8. Villagers running check points is definitely a scary thought…

    Although I have only been there once since I was born, the country is such a beautiful place and has so much potential that it frustrates me to see everything getting worse! 😦

    I don’t get into much political talk as 1) I obviously don’t know enough about the situation and 2) I don’t want to be yet another “Arm Chair Pundit” as SL seems to have more than it’s fair share of those…

    You seem to be fairly very well connected, how difficult is it to start a political party in SL? I thought about this when I was in SL during that short period and wondered if there are any practical ways to “fix” the country.

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  9. the1truecoolguy I’m not well connected in a political sense.

    And I doubt if there can be a “quick fix” solution. Another political party won’t have much impact. It will at most be another player whose votes will have to be bought with a duty free luxury vehicle and a ministry.

    Sri Lanka is a mess of complicated issues that don’t have accurate any easy to understand equivalents in the outside world.

    You are right about not wanting to be an armchair pundit πŸ™‚ I share the feeling so I’ll stop πŸ˜‰

    robincruz I’m not sure how widespread this thing about civilians setting up road block is. haven’t heard much about in the news. But then I haven’t been monitoring the news too closely.

    It has nothing to do with justice though. Just vigilante violence.

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  10. Truecoolguy

    the system is rotton to the core and I don’t think it can be fixed. Cerno blogged on this some time back (Sri Lanka Politics as organised crime) just have a look at it.

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  11. Cerno – Notice I didn’t say “quick fix” πŸ™‚ I guess practical solution vs. practical fix might have been clearer.

    JP – Sad that you would say the system is so rotten that it’s unfixable and I tend to agree. However, being the eternal optimist that I am, was hoping that perhaps a new political party with the some members of the new generation that is fed up of this nonsense and perhaps some people who have been educated and worked in other countries might come together and come up with a lasting solution.

    Oh- I had already read the Politics as Organized Crime entry and I wasn’t surprised… πŸ™‚

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  12. the1truecoolguy 😳 Sorry.

    Whenever I hear the word “fix” associated with Sri Lanka it has always been marketed at a “quick” one. The classic is of course “…if we killed off all those buggers..” πŸ˜‰

    The problem with the political system as a source of change is that the greed factor is too much for the people involved. There’s so much easy money. Specially if you get paid with a ministry that handles aid money or tenders (practically all of them do the difference is the scale). At the higher levels the mix of money and politics is so potent that if you can’t be bought “they” will someone else who can be.

    Personally I think that change has to take place in the minds of ordinary people. And that’s way more complicated – to perceive let alone implement anything. It involves getting all sorts of groups to work together. There’s some degree of wealth generation to lower income levels. All that has to be done under the noses of the politicians who will want their cut.

    I’ve heard the details of too many people who’ve got burnt out and bought by trying to change the big picture politically. Other end up chipping away on a smaller scale aiming for a tipping point, perhaps generations ahead.

    Post just pour another glass of Arrak (neat of course).

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