Cinemas Asked to Keep Box Seats Open

Sri Lanka Police is again in the news. Yes, again. This time by ordering the “box” seats given to “couples” in cinemas to be made “open” and visible to the others from all sides. This violates the very basic need of a box. Box seats are made available worldwide in cinemas, opera houses, theaters, stadiums for the viewers to get an uninterrupted entertainment of the event they came to, be it a movie, an opera, a drama or a sporting event. But in Sri Lanka boxes are used mainly by lovers who cannot afford a room in a guest house or scared to go to one. This doesn’t mean that others also use the box seats for better viewing experience. Their right to use a box seat also should be protected.

The police had been compelled to bring the new rule as an underage girl had been raped in a box seat in a cinema in Gampola by her boyfriend. Apparently, the boy is an adult (20.) This raises eyebrows of many. Molesting a minor by an adult even with the minor’s consent is an offence and that has to be punished or prevented. Some sort of mechanism like checking the identity card (if suspected a minor) should be ordered to the cinema owners and if the rule is broken the cinema should be punished. An outright order of dislodging a box seat is not the answer as the box seat is created for another purpose.

Besides the way that the news item has been titled is also of great concern. It says “Girl raped while watching Siri Parakum.” This implies that the movie also is responsible for the crime. They should have used something like “Girl raped while watching a movie” instead.

Sri Lanka Police take 146 years to issue copies of the complaints within minutes

I have been to police stations to get copies of the complaint I made regarding lost documents several times as I kept losing my valuable documents due to constant changes of residences. Getting a copy of the complaint is a long process. First, you have to wait in the queue to make a complaint. While you wait, you can hear a number of stories from domestic violence to distilling illegal alcohol to practicing incest by fathers on daughters. Since there is no room for take one complainant at a time in a closed room, the others also hear all these which is embarrassing to the complainants.

Then you are asked to request a copy of the complaint you made from the Officer in Charge of the police station. Only at this time you come to know that the police have no blank paper to provide for you and you have to buy them yourself. You will be extremely lucky if there is a stationary shop nearby, if not you have to go back to the closest town to buy the blank paper. What I do is I take 50-blank paper packet with me and hand it over to the policeman and ask him to distribute them among the disabled and older people who come without a blank paper. I use one paper and 49 papers are for charity.

Next you have to write down the request to the OIC as dictated by the police officer. Then you give it to the officer with 25 LKR and when you provide a 100 or 50 rupee note, the officer might say he doesn’t have change. You might have to go to the police canteen to get it changed. Even if I ask the officer to keep the change he won’t accept. Once you come back with the change that the relevant officer has gone for lunch, etc. Again you have to wait.

Once the officer comes back after a good one hour or two, you have to give him 25 LKR in change and then he gives you a yellow color receipt and you are advised not to lose this at any cost. Then you are asked to come back after a few days with the receipt to collect the copy of the complaint. This is because they do not have anybody to typeset the copy of the complaint and till they find an officer for this, you need to give them time.

When you go to the police station to collect the copy of the complaint you will be asked to get the already typed copy of the complaint signed by the OIC. You will be lucky if you find him in his seat and even if he is there, he will be on the phone having an endless chat or busy talking to someone in front of him.

With the curiosity of why it takes this much of a delay at a police station, I asked an experienced police officer (a friend of mine) the reasons for it and why not the police reduce the delay. His answer was, “You are delayed and hassled at a police station to discourage you to come to a police station. If the police station is a luxurious place you will be inclined to visit it and will not care about the minor things of losing an identity card or a driving license and will come to the police to collect it easily. But now you know what it takes to go through the mill at a police station, you won’t lose any of the valuable documents anymore.” he said.

Coming back to the story, once you get the signature and the rubber stamp of the OIC, you are issued with a copy of the complaint. It takes several days and you feel pissed off.

But, to my surprise, when I went to the Kahathuduwa Police Station to make a complaint and get a copy of the complaint as I had lost my university record book (I am doing an external degree) the police took only few minutes to deliver it. I was surprised how fast they did it this time. The reason was that the officer had a book with carbon copy papers and once you write a complaint in the original paper, it automatically copies it in another paper! My question is why did the Sri Lanka Police take 146 years to do that? (See Police history at