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. 😉
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.