Wrong Choice of Criminals’ Uniform Colour

Why orange for criminal uniforms when turquoise would do nicely?

Sunday Punch 2 (Sunday Times)

It is commendable of the Prison’s Commissioner Mr. Dhanasinghe to recognize that suspects in remand custody or even convicted criminals have rights to privacy no matter how heinous the crime and to have taken the decision to clothe them in a sort of Ku Klux Klan attire to conceal their identities whenever they are brought to court.

COLOUR CONTROVERSY: Should criminals be clothed in anonymity in the same colour orange as that of a monk’s robe?

The fact that the Minster of Justice and Buddhist affairs Rajapakshe and Prison Reforms and Hindu Religious Affairs Minister Swaminathan claimed not to know that a new uniform had been introduced is of no matter.

Self kick starters like Mr., Dhanasinghe should be admired and appreciated for taking the initiative for introducing this bold new step that will no doubt win him many admirers the world over for his enlightened approach to prisoners’ rights. .

But is the man colour blind?

Has he shut himself in some solitary vacant cell at Welikada and thus, cut off from outside life, picked orange to be his chosen colour to adorn his pack of wolves in sheep’s clothing?

Didn’t he have a clue that for centuries both in the far off plains of India and closer home in the pathways of Lanka, that the colour orange symbolizes the colour of religion, the unmistakable, distinct hue of the robe the wandering ascetic dons as he searches for the elusive truth? Doesn’t he have any inkling as to how it came to be the functional designer colour of the monk’s sacred saffron shroud?

That Prince Siddhartha, after having left his father’s palace renouncing his materialistic world, after handing over his hair and ornaments to his horseman Channa to be given to the sire King Suddhodana as his mortal remains, after having crossed the river Anoma, scoured the ghoul ridden cemeteries for a suitable shroud enwrapping the dead which had escaped the ferocity of forests wolves and remained intact?

And how after having found one unmolested, he smeared the corpse wrapped white cloth in turmeric powder gleaned from the fruit of the jungle plant and used it, as were the custom and practice in those days, as an antiseptic to rid it of germs? That the golden yellow brown, commonly known as orange became thereafter the hall mark hue of a Buddhist monk’s sacred robe to which the majority of this country pays enormous respect irrespective of the actions of the present wearer, however vile?

Was the prison Commissioner so ignorant of it all or was he so insensitive to Buddhist and Hindu feelings – for Hindu swamis too don a similar coloured attire – that out of all the VIBGYOR colours found in a rainbow, he couldn’t find a single colour more suitable than orange to paint his criminals with? And by his individual choice of orange, place the uniform of the common criminal on par with the hallowed robe of the monk before which even kings and presidents bow their knee in worship out of respect?

But he must be forgiven for the lapse. When the intention is good, ignorance as to history can be forgiven.
Perhaps he needs help in the choice of colour: and now that the last rainbow that appeared last year in January has long since dissipated with the rains that soon followed, here’s a suggestion to aid his final decision.

In keeping with the times and recognizing that suspected crooks and convicted criminals must be identified as such and yet must remain incognito, and realising also that the colour must easily be associated with the class of people it seeks to represent, how about the colour turquoise? It’s the result you get when you mix green and blue in proportionate measure. Or to save the hassle of mixing and getting the shade wrong, why not go directly for either green or blue? Isn’t that more in accord with changing times?

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