VVIP Vehicle Kills Another Youth
By Nirmala Kannangara in Avissawella – Photos by Lalith Perera
Another young man was killed by a speeding VVIP vehicle in Avissawella last Sunday (13).
The latest tragedy comes two weeks after a similar incident in Pelmadulla, claimed the life of a young boy who was killed by a speeding backup vehicle provided to the IGP’s wife. This time the victim was 28 year old Kurupadam Jackson.
The Prado used by Rasika Jayasekara (who is the wife of the Deputy Minister of Power and Energy’) crashed into a three-wheeler killing Jackson on the spot and severely injuring three others. The vehicle was traveling from Nivithigala at the time. Onlookers at the Ukwatte junction, where the accident took place, described how the Prado had traveled at high speed towards Colombo and had overtaken a bus without slowing down. It had then crashed into the three-wheeler traveling in the opposite direction.
“The accident happened around 8 pm. When we rushed to the scene we saw some movement inside the vehicle. We assume that the person in the driving seat changed seats with another one. We believe that it was the Deputy Minister’s wife who was at the wheel and switched seats after the accident,” Weerasinghe, a bystander said. What’s more, witnesses said the police attempted to stage a cover-up, moving the Prado so that no one could accuse the VVIP vehicle of speeding in the wrong lane. The police officers who did so were on duty at a nearby election meeting held by Minister Wimal Weerawansa, and intervened before Avissawella police arrived on the scene, witnesses alleged.
“Realising that it was the Power and Energy Deputy Minister’s wife’s vehicle, the police pushed the Prado back to the correct lane. When the people asked as to why they were pushing the vehicle, the police said it was to avoid any traffic congestion,” Weerasinghe said.
The witnesses at Ukwatte junction added that the VVIP vehicle had been traveling so fast it was ‘flying’ and remarked that it was a miracle more people had not been hurt.
“They have the ‘power’ so they have taken the law into their hands therefore there is no safety for us anymore. They can even knock us down and even escape from any legal consequences,” Weerasinghe said.
The Sunday Leader meanwhile visited Penrith Estate in Avissawella, where Jackson’s body lay in a small room. To add to the tragedy, he had been married just two months ago, and leaves behind a young wife who was in a state of confusion.
“Our wedding photographs are not even ready and Jackson was eagerly waiting to see the photos,” says a distressed 27 year old Muniyandi who works in Kandy. The young woman says that her deceased husband used to travel all the way to spend time with her. However on that fateful weekend, she said he received a call on Saturday (12) asking him to return the next day, which he did. Jackson had left promising to get the wedding photographs on Wednesday, as Muniyandi was going to Avissawella to vote at the local government elections.
However on Sunday night Muniyandi received the dreaded message from her in-laws. Vasantha Kumara – brother in law of the deceased said that all four in the three-wheeler were trapped and they had to cut open the ill-fated vehicle in order to take the injured out. “It was Jackson that looked after the parents. They all depended on the small salary he got by working in Colombo and on this rubber estate. With his demise who will look after the parents?” Kumara asked.
He added that one of the local government candidates living in the area got the Deputy Minister of Power and Energy on the phone. “When I told him my grievances he wanted me to meet one of his secretaries at the Avissawella Rest House. So I met him on March 14 and he gave me Rs.40,000 as funeral expenses. When I asked the secretary as to what Minister Jayasekera was planning to give as long term relief to the four families that were affected, he spoke to the Minister and assured me some help which however he did not specify,” Kumara said.
The Police Side
Meanwhile Avissawella Police told The Sunday Leader a different story altogether — that the accident was due to the negligent driving of the three-wheeler driver.
“Although people claim the Deputy Minister’s vehicle came at high speed we cannot ascertain that. It is the court that will decide how this has happened. The Prado was well within its track and as claimed by the onlookers; it did not overtake any vehicle. All these are baseless allegations,” police sources said.
Denying the allegations leveled against her, Rasika Jayasekera told The Sunday Leader, that she was not in the driving seat at the time of the accident. She said she and her children were fast asleep in the rear seats when the accident occurred.
“We were on our way back from our Nivithigala home when the Prado in which I was traveling with my children met with the accident. It was raining heavily. We got up when the jeep crashed into the three- wheeler and my daughter too sustained slight injuries,” she claimed.
When asked whether she saw that the people who traveled in the three- wheeler were all lying in a pool of blood, Rasika Jayasekera said she knew nothing but took her daughter to the Avissawella hospital immediately. “Although I knew that there were people in the ill-fated three-wheeler I did not know about their health condition. It was only after I returned Colombo I found out that one person has died and three others received severe injuries,” Jayasekera added.
She denied that the Prado traveled fast. According to Jayasekara, it was the trishaw that was speeding and crashed into the jeep. “Failing to control its speed, it may have skidded and crashed into the Prado. Although people claim that our driver was in the wrong lane police reports say that the vehicle was well within the correct lane. Later on, I too had to go to the police and our driver was taken into custody,” she said.
When asked whether her family will pay compensation to the deceased family, Jayasekera said she would have to talk to her husband on the issue, “These days he is busy with election work. Once the election is over, I will have to talk to my husband as to what we could do for the injured and the dead,” Jayasekera said.