Ilankai Tamil Sangam

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Police and Army in Sri Lanka

November 29, 2011

Out of those in service, 81,328 are Sinhala police officers, 1,093 Tamil police officers, 952 Muslim officers, nine Dutch officers and 25 Malay officers .  There are only 430 police stations in the country...

[I]n the recent past the Police Service has come under the purview of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) with exception of a several years when it came under the Ministry of Internal Affairs but was transferred to the MoD...

By 1985 almost all enlisted personnel in the armed services were Sinhalese....

Since it defeated the Tamil Tigers two-and-a-half years ago, Sri Lanka has not demobilised its soldiers. Saying the country still faces a security threat, it has instead increased the size of the army to more than 200,000...


Police Service Short of Around 10,000 Cadres

Daily Mirror , Colombo, November 28, 2011

The Police Service runs short of around 10,000 cadres required to maintain law and order in the country, Parliament was informed today.

In response to a question by UNP MP Ravi Karunanayake, Chief Government Whip Dinesh Gunawardane said that there are only 83,423 police officers in the service, the actual number required is 92,023 police.

Out of those in service, 81,328 are Sinhala police officers, 1,093 Tamil police officers, 952 Muslim officers, nine Dutch officers and 25 Malay officers .  There are only 430 police stations in the country.

Mr. Gunawardane said that the number of police stations required in the country is determined by the Defence Ministry on recommendations by the Inspector General of Police.

“When establishing a police station, there are no specific parameters. The number of crimes, population growth, emergence of new colonies and geographical conditions are considered when establishing a police station in a given area,” he said. (Kelum Bandara and Yohan Perera)


Sri Lanka Police Force Organization

by, accessed November 29, 2011

The Sri Lanka Police is headed by the Inspector General of Police, who has in theory autonomy to commanding the service from the Police Headquarters, Colombo and support by the Police Field Force Headquarters, Colombo. However in the recent past the Police Service has come under the purview of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) with exception of a several years when it came under the Ministry of Internal Affairs but was transferred to the MoD. In the last few years there has been calls to reestablish the independent National Police Commission [1] to oversee transfers and promotions, thereby making the service autonomous and free from any influence.

Special Task Force STF in Pottuvil Sri Lanka 2005
Special Task Force in Pottuvil 2005

The police service is organized in to five primary geographic commands, known as ranges (Range I, II, III, IV, V), covering the northern, western, eastern and southern sectors of the island under the command of a Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police (SDIG). The ranges were subdivided into divisions, districts, and police stations, Colombo was designated as a special range. Each police division headed by a Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) covers a single province and a police district headed by a Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) covers a single district of the country. In 1974 there were a total of 260 police stations throughout the country and as of 2007 there are more than 2,000.

With the escalation of the Sri Lankan Civil War the strength and the number of stations have increased. Since 1971 the police service has suffered large number of casualties, with officers and constables killed and wounded as a result of terrorist and insurgents. In more remote rural areas beyond the immediate range of existing police stations, enforcement of simple crimes are carried out by the Grama Seva Niladhari (village service officers), but this has now become rare with most villages covered by newer by police stations.

Special Task Force insignia Sri LankaIn addition to its regular forces, the police service operated a reserve contingent until 2007 when the Reserve Police Force was disbanded and its personal transferred to the regular police force. The police service has a number of specialized units responsible for investigativeprotectivecounter-terrorism and paramilitary functions.

Investigation of organized criminal activity and detective work are handled by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) under the command of a Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG). More coordinated threats to internal security, such as that posed by the radical Sinhalese JVP in 1980's were the responsibility of the Counter Subversive Division, which was primarily an investigative division, it has since been replaced by the Terrorist Investigation Department (TID). The TID carries out counter-terrorisminvestigations and threats to internal security from the LTTE.

Protective security units which are entrusted the security includes the Ministerial Security Division (elected public figures), Diplomatic Security Division (foreign diplomats) and Judicial Security Division (Judges). President's Security Division and the Prime Minister's Security Division functions independently but consists of mostly police personal.

Other specialized units includes the Information Technology Division, the Mounted Division, the Anti-riot Squad, Traffic Police, K9 units, the Marine Division, the Police Narcotic Bureau and the Children & Women Bureau. The police service also operates the Sri Lanka Police College[1] of personal training and the Police Hospital, Colombo.

Special Task Force

Special Task Force, is one of special operational units in the Police Service. The Special Task Force is a police para military force. It was set up on March 1, 1983 with the assistance of foreign advisers (primarily former British Special Air Service personnel under the auspicious of Keeny Meeny Services). Its 1,100-member force was organized into 7 companies and trained in counterinsurgency techniques. It played a major role in the government's combined force operations against the Tamil Tigers in Eastern Province before July 1987. Following the signing of the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord, the Special Task Force was re designated the Police Special Force, and deployed in Southern Province, where it immediately went into action against the JVP terrorists. Companies of the force also served in rotation as part of the presidential security guard.

Internal Intelligence

Until 1984 the police were responsible for national (local) intelligence functions, first under the Special Branch (est. 1966 as part of the CID), and later under the Intelligence Services Division. The perceived failure of the Intelligence Services Division during the riots of July 1983 led the J.R. Jayawardene government to reevaluate the nation's intelligence network, and in 1984 the president set up a National Intelligence Bureau. The new organization combined intelligence units from the army, navy, air force, and police. It was headed by a deputy inspector general of police who reported directly to the Ministry of Defence.


Sri Lanka

Ethnic Composition of the Armed Forces, Data as of October 1988

At independence the government inherited from the British a military establishment that was neither ethnically nor religiously representative of the population at large. Minorities, for example, were heavily overrepresented in the officer corps. Christians, who comprised about 8 percent of the population, accounted for about 50 percent of all officers. Ethnically, Tamils and Burghers, who together comprised less than 20 percent of the population, accounted for 40 percent of the officer corps. This unbalanced representation was the result of a number of deliberate policies and incidental developments under the British. As in India, the colonial government in Sri Lanka tended to favor certain minorities in the selection of both military and civil service posts. In addition, the greater willingness of the Tamils to attend Christian missionary schools gave them the advantage of knowing the language, faith, and value system of the colonial administration. These Christian schools were also more likely than their Buddhist counterparts to offer rigorous physical training; the student cadet corps that were common in the colonial tradition were anathema to the Buddhist pacifist orthodoxy. Finally, the largely Westernized Burgher population adapted more easily to the social and public values of a colonial force.

In the first few years of independence, the high representation of Christians and minorities in the military leadership was fully in step with the political currents of the time; the governments of Don Stephen Senanayake and Sir John Kotelawala were dominated by a Westernized elite that preached accommodation with all ethnic groups. Starting in the mid-1950s, however, a new Sinhalese and Buddhist nationalism turned increasingly against the British-sponsored elite of the colonial period. Within the government, this tendency was reflected in the victory of S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike in the 1956 elections. In the military, however, changes were much more gradual; most of the commissions that had become available in the newly created services were already filled, and the relatively young army had few officers approaching retirement age. As a result, this period was marked by an increasing strain between the civil and the military authorities. The government's program of nationalization and its attempt to establish a privileged place for Buddhism and the Sinhala language caused increasing conflict around the island. In January 1962, several high-ranking military officers were arrested and accused of planning a coup d'état. They reportedly had planned to restore order by detaining a number of prominent left-wing politicians from the Bandaranaike coalition and returning the UNP to office. By the time the conspiracy was made public, the original plans had already been abandoned. Nonetheless, the Bandaranaike government used the potential threat to bolster its pro-Buddhist campaign, making political capital from the fact that all of the conspirators had been Christians.

Despite the initial resistance from a number of military officers, the government succeeded gradually in recasting the armed forces in its own image. Recruitment at all levels became increasingly dominated by Sinhalese Buddhists, and by mid-1983 Tamils accounted for less than 5 percent of all military personnel. Military training that previously had been conducted in a variety of languages was now limited to Sinhala and English. Also, under the leadership of S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, the army was supplemented with the new Sinha Regiment, whose name and unprecedented lack of regimental colors stood in clear opposition to the British colonial regalia of the Ceylon Light Infantry. Even the Light Infantry took on a new Sinhalese cast when in 1961 it adopted an elephant named Kandula as its regimental mascot; as the Times of Ceylon was quick to point out, Kandula was the battle elephant of Dutthagamani (or Duttugemunu), the ancient Sinhalese king who was credited with driving the Tamils out of Sri Lanka in the second century B.C.

The Sinhalization of the armed forces continued under the United National Party government of President Jayewardene. The retirement of the British-educated cadre of Tamil and Burgher officers gradually depleted the ranks of minority members. At the same time, the growing ethnic divisions in the country and the deployment of the armed forces against the Tamil population in the Northern Province tended to discourage young Tamil males from pursuing a career in the military. By 1985 almost all enlisted personnel in the armed services were Sinhalese.

Data as of October 1988


Sri Lanka abandons round-up of military deserters

by Charles Haviland, BBC, November 8, 2011

The army in Sri Lanka says it is giving up a campaign to round up tens of thousands of deserters and will instead de-list or de-register them.

It says there are nearly 60,000 such deserters - an apparent increase of 10,000 in just under a year.

However, some of the deserters fled the forces many years ago.

A military spokesman said that the forces were now pursuing just a few dozen deserters who are thought to have committed serious crimes.


Since it defeated the Tamil Tigers two-and-a-half years ago, Sri Lanka has not demobilised its soldiers.

Saying the country still faces a security threat, it has instead increased the size of the army to more than 200,000.

Clearly, however, not all within the forces are happy with their situation and desertions have continued on a large scale.

Just 12 days ago an army spokesman said that about 60,000 deserters would be rounded up and apprehended.

Now, however, he has told the BBC that nearly all of them will instead be de-listed and will be able to term themselves "ex-soldiers" rather than deserters.

There have continued to be many reports of deserters suspected of involvement in violent crime - most recently in the killing of a well-known doctor and in a separate triple-murder case.

While the army says it will pursue the few suspected of serious offences, it appears the military wants to de-link itself from any association with such criminality and also let non-criminal deserters get on with their lives.

See also, BBC's "Sri Lanka's Expanding Peacetime Army"


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