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Laying the ‘yakas’ to rest

Aug 22, 2011 2:40:18 PM - www.ft.lk

THE phenomenon of ‘grease yakas’ has moved from amusement to a serious social issue. The clash that left a Police Constable hacked to death and resulted in the Special Task Force (STF) moving into occupy the Puttalam town has marked the ‘grease yakas’ as a difficult problem to tackle.

What was once a joke discussed with amusement has spiralled into a grave problem with serious social impacts. The widespread prevalence of people who have taken advantage of the ‘grease yakas’ to spread mayhem as well as people who have become afraid to live in certain areas because of the increased reports are both points of concern. There is little doubt that something needs to be done urgently to deal with this issue but the question remains what that can be.
In a country where neighbourhood solidarity is increasingly nonexistent, the idea that a community can get together to protect itself is a novel idea. Since the ‘grease yakas’ have made their presence felt in Puttalam, the chance of presenting this as a communal issue must also be considered – though it is clear that this idea would hold little credibility given that the incidents have been spread across the country.
The Police has endeavoured to explain this away saying that these are isolated incidents that have grown through media publicity. Presented with a credible cover story, more and more people are using the ‘grease yaka’ phenomenon to engage in criminal activities that are increasingly disturbing the general public. When such irresponsible behaviour takes place in a conservative community, the effect is doubled and unfortunately caused the death of a Policeman.
Has the Police really been negligent in this instance? Or are the people simply fed up with waiting for results? How will the Police deal with this growing problem and does it have credible means of resolving this issue? Can the Puttalam Police bridge the divide between themselves and the community that it is tasked with protecting? These are some of the weighty questions that will weigh on the minds of concerned citizens.
Unless the Police can rebuild its relationship with the people in Puttalam, there will be serious repercussions that go beyond the ‘grease yaka’ issue. Obviously bringing the offenders to book would be the first step, but in the meantime they must also be more open and share what steps have been taken so far to apprehend the offenders. This would help to restore some semblance of trust between the Police and the community as well as assist in the investigations.
A civic sense of caring for the community must come into play here so that people watch out for the offenders and report them to the authorities. Offenders cannot be allowed to use this as a way to perpetrate more acts and cover up criminal activities for that is exactly what this behaviour has become.
Strengthening law and is important but this should not be done in a manner that increases the rift between the people and the Police. Perhaps networking all the investigations together so that more information is gathered would assist in bringing these offenders to book. The spotlight is on the Police and the speedy conclusion of the investigation would be the best method to rebuilding relationships and healing the Puttalam community.

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