The new Spirit of the Police


Speaking at the reception given to him by his old school, Dharmaraja College, Kandy, the new Inspector General of Police gave out the secret behind his elevation to this important position. It was blessings that came from his invoking the help of spiritual powers, through a rigorous exercise in ‘Pirith chanting" and floral offerings at the Gangaramaya, Colombo – giving up his early morning exercises for physical fitness, that brought him to this position, he said to the reported laughter of the audience.

He may have spoken in lighter vein, but the message he gave was heavy and serious. It brings a new importance to the powers of spirituality in the affairs of State and governance, especially in the area of Law and Order. It takes one to a new height in the belief that spirits, divinity, and other forces of religion can help one get over the biggest hurdles in life – be it school or public examinations, finding the best employment, success in marriage, and the best profits of business, to mention a few areas of interest.

Before the new IGP’s selection by the Constitutional Council was announced, there were many media reports about the use of political influence by the leaders in the contest, and some politicians did not even hide their choice for this post. What the IGP has done is to give the message, believe it or not, that political influence cannot transcend that of the spiritual in the choice of candidates for the best positions in governance. His example is that of the highest – the Constitutional Council – the body that is said to be above politics and other pressurizing interests in the choice of persons for key positions of government.

The problem now arising is that if the Constitutional Council can be influenced by spiritual powers – through Pirith chanting and the offering of flowers at temple rituals in this instance - what other aspects of spirituality could also influence it in the coming months and years. We are aware that today’s Constitutional Council is not as non-political as that under the 17th Amendment; having an overload of politicians on it, against three members of civil society. Yet, the expectation was that it will be above usual strategies of influence for success that is so well known in our society today.

Suddenly, with the IGP’s own revelation, the Constitutional Council can be influenced by powers that are beyond the knowledge or control of humans, and that does raise a huge question on the powers of spirituality. This brings back into focus those other ‘spiritual" exercises we have seen in abundance, especially in the past few months. It is the spiritual force of dashing coconuts at shrines of worship and near courts of law, and the grindings to please deities or other spirits, especially at a southern shrine, to ensure one’s success, at the cost of another.

We are caught in a mix of efforts to move the spiritual forces, wherever they may be, to interfere in the affairs of governance, whether from the heavens of deities or infernos of demons, answering the prayers, chants, incantations, and mantras, or damnations, vilifications and condemnations, of those seeking spiritual or other worldly help in guiding their destinies towards the goals of success, at whatever cost to the hopes of others.

This is the larger national issue that has emerged with knowledge of the ability of other worldly powers to influence or manipulate appointments to positions in government.

There is yet another concern, which has everything to do with the Sri Lanka Police – as the IGP wants it named. What happens with police investigations into crime and corruption? Are we to have special shrines at, even the larger police stations, from which investigating officers could get spiritual help in their probes? Will we need new legislation to enable such spiritual assistance to be presented in the courts, as acceptable evidence?

Is the Police to tell their investigating officers to stop their exercises for physical fitness, and use that time for spiritual or other worldly help in gaining the goals of arrest and conviction. Will those who are summoned to the Police for investigations asked to go to a nearby shrine and swear to the truth of what they tell the police?

There is also the issue of whether the Sri Lanka Police will have a new Spiritual Investigation Department or SID – to carry on this new spiritual policing functions, which can give results as certain and effective as the selection of the IGP?

The IGP, while speaking in lighter vein, has certainly opened up new areas of activity, where the spiritual matters more than the physical; some temples and shrines could be more effective than others. Will this come to the day when the spiritual is even more important than the mental, in matters of investigation and police promotions?

Are we coming to the time when policing the people will be a spiritual exercise, moving away from the standard practices of probe, evidence and conviction? There are many today who would prefer the spirits to take over in influencing places such as the FCID.

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