The Sunday Leader

Jaffna On Edge After Shooting Incident

The motor bike of the two students

by Hafsa Sabry

Jaffna is on edge following the shooting incident in which two youth were killed, allegedly by police action.

The incident has seen the spotlight being placed on a sword gang named ‘Aava Group’  which was involved in an attack on two policemen just days after the shooting incident.

Police fired at the two youth in Kankesanthurai when they were speeding away on a motorbike, allegedly ignoring orders to stop at a checkpoint. The policemen had admitted the youth to hospital on the claim that they had met with an accident. The rider was hit by a gunshot and he lost control of the motorbike and it crashed into a wall resulting in the death of the pillion rider.

However, the cause of both deaths would have been confirmed as an accident, had it not been the neighbours who claimed to have heard gunshots at night and the intervention of fellow university students and Opposition Leader R. Sampanthan who demanded an impartial investigation.

Inspector General of Police Pujith Jayasundara was made to believe the same narrative, so was the President. Later, following the President’s order to commence an investigation into the death, five police officers were interdicted while the post-mortem examination revealed a gunshot injury in the chest of one of the students who was riding the bike.

Jayasundara insisted the police had no authority to shoot at unarmed citizens and even if they were bound to they had to use the least force, which will not result in death. Many claimed that this is the first time in the history of Sri Lanka where the higher rank official of the police condemned the act of police officers.

The IGP said that there are several training programs for the police and all members who are appointed in the Police Department are well trained according to their posts before being sent out to carry out their duties as policemen. Policemen are appointed for the security of people and their property, not to cause harm or damage to them.

“We as policemen have big responsibilities in giving security for the people of the country. We have to keep that in mind and must serve the public because people seek police support when they undergo an agony or an issue, hence we need to support them regardless of who they are,” the IGP said.

Referring to the Jaffna shooting incident the IGP said the officers involved had not reported to the police about the shooting incident after the incident took place. This he says is a blatant breach of police regulations. “We have launched investigations into what exactly made the two alleged policemen to open fire at the youths. There were no gang robberies or crimes at the scene. It’s the university students who were shot dead. Parents find it difficult to grow their children and send them to higher studies and if they die in vain by the misbehaviour of the police, then the wrongdoers should be brought to book after investigating into the matter.

“Under suspicion we have so far arrested several policemen in connection with the murder and produced the two alleged policemen in the courts and therefore the usual procedure of a crime investigation is happening right now,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Students Union of the Jaffna University has sought a fair investigation into the case, and urged the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka to intervene. Students in the eastern towns of Batticaloa, Mullaitivu and in Kilinochchi in the Northern Province gathered in large numbers outside their institutions, demanding justice for the students, Natarajan Kajan and Pounraj Sulakshan.

The Arts Faculty Students Union of Jaffna University the two students were attached to said that the government should seriously investigate into the murder of both their fellow mates as the police had killed them in vain. “We will not stop the demonstration until justice delivered for the students killed by the police. We appeal to the President and the Prime Minister to step in and bring justice to these murders. We strongly condemn the shooting incident,” said the Faculty students.

They also said that they will support the families of both young men. “It is disheartening for the Jaffna and the Tamils all around the country. If we want to resume our usual university activities then the government has to fully inquire into the incident and punish the offenders without any delay. The teachers and the students’ union have given full support for our demonstration. Police also should inquire into the claims of the policemen who said it was an accident.

“We believe that if the Jaffna magistrate intervenes into the case, there will be an impartial inquiry. If that doesn’t have an impartial inquiry, this case will also be treated like the one with Vidya’s, who was brutally murdered and no justice is brought to her death. We fear that this will be one amongst those cases. The Human Rights Commission in Sri Lanka should watch over the case and the inquiries to prevent any partiality done to the criminals. The whole inquiry and investigation should be expedited and finish soon,” they added.

“Within one moth the criminals should be brought to book and the case should be finalized in the Jaffna high court. The government should also compensate the family monthly as if the young men were not killed by the police and they would have financially helped their families. We have not done any violence during the demonstration but if the authorities fail to bring justice to the two deaths of the youth then we cannot stay silent. Other NGOs and organizations also wanted to take part in the protest and we will be protesting for our fellow mates, which will not stop until we find justice,” the union leader said.

Nevertheless, a ‘Hartal’ was organized by political groups in Jaffna where shops remained closed in support of the murdered students. Students across Sri Lankan universities condemned the alleged police shooting and demanded a fair investigation. Thousands of students took to the streets in Jaffna town, blocking A9, the main highway to the island’s north, and urging speedy action against the culprits.

In addition to the protests of the Tamil majority in the Northern and Eastern Provinces, demonstrations were also held at various southern universities that have a predominantly Sinhala student population.

A clash broke out when they were demonstrating against the shooting near the hospital in Kilinochchi Town in relation to the ‘Hartal’ declared after the death of the two students. When the Police attempted to disperse the gathering, some of the protestors charged at the Police and attacked a sergeant with a bottle, injuring his face. The Sergeant sustained injuries and was hospitalized.

In the meantime, a group calling themselves the ‘AAVA Gangsters’ has claimed responsibility for the sword attack on two police officers in the Chunnakam market area following the student incident. The group said the sword attack was a retaliation for the death of two Jaffna university students who were allegedly shot the by police.

The group warned the police and the public to expect such incidents in the future as retaliation against activities that were destroying the culture and society of Jaffna.

The group stressed that punishment will be given to those engaged in activities that would destroy the social norms and ideas in Jaffna. “We, as Tamils cannot witness the destruction of our culture in Jaffna which is considered ‘the land of culture’ of Tamil Eelam,” a poster displayed.

The group however was supressed and objected from violating the peace in Jaffna after a strong Judge was appointed to the area. But following the shooting incident the sword group once again began attacks on the policemen with the claim they will find justice for the injustice done to the Tamils of Jaffna.

Many claimed that it is now important that Jaffna needs peace and also important that no one should be enslaved for their feelings and aggression as the police and the government together had promised an impartial investigation and finding of the true criminal of the case and therefore people were asked to remain silent.

The emergence of the Aava group was viewed in different angles by the politicians. One of the members of JHU publicly claimed that this group must have been backed by the former LTTE cadres who were released and engaged in several occupations now. The statement said that almost all the 12,500 former LTTE members should be arrested and questioned to put a stop to such violence in the north.

Meanwhile, the Minister for Law and Order, Sagala Ratnayake guaranteed that the members of Aava group will be soon arrested to prevent any further sword attacks and violence in Jaffna. The minister, while making a statement in Parliament, said that the alleged policemen would have shot thinking those youths belonged to such armed groups in Jaffna. However, the Chief Minister of the Northern Province,  C. V. Vigneswaran said he was surprised that such gangs operated in the north where there is a presence of more than 150,000 armed forces and police officers.

It was not surprising that an armed group of gangsters wonder in Jaffna as there were a number of such groups even before the war period, media reported. Many expressed views over how a bullet wound can be found on the chest of the rider if the youths were passing the checkpoint allegedly ignoring their stopping orders. Even though the policemen claimed they shot at the sky, there could be no logical possibilities for one to believe that they died because of the accident or they were shot for ignoring the police order. The truth seems to be way far from the narration of the alleged policemen.

This is another example of how hard it is to clean up the rot in the state institutions, no matter who runs the government. It is easier to change governments, but not that easy to change the old habits of State institutions. Last week’s deaths could well have passed off as whatever the police wished, had it not been for the intervention by the President. However, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe have assured that the case would be investigated impartially.

Civil Society Condemns Attack
Civil society activists from Sri Lanka strongly condemned the recent fatalshooting of a student and related death of another student from the Jaffna University and call for an independent investigation to ensure justice.
The killing of Natarajan Kajan (23 years) and Pounraj Sulakshan (24 years) by the police, on 21st October 2016, occurred at Kulappidi Junction, Kokuvil, Jaffna. Subsequent to the shooting, five police personnel were arrested with the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) taking over the investigation. We note the arrests occurred only after an outcry by local groups in response to the initial attempt to cover up the incident by the police. We demand that the judicial process be independent, impartial and fast-tracked.
The incident also highlights the role of the police and the shortcomings of their conduct, a point also highlighted by the Inspector General (IGP) of Police, Pujith Jayasundara. We call on the authorities to urgently revisit specific law and order arrangements and security procedures, including on the use of firearms, in the North and East, as part of an overall assessment of procedures in Sri Lanka. We also note the issues of police inaction, delays and abuses require systemic changes and as such call on the authorities to initiate reforms within the police, security and justice sector.
It is also paramount that the National Police Commission inquire into this incident and initiate necessary reforms and action within the police. We also note with concern that this is in a context where authorities are discussing efforts to broaden the powers of the police in the guise of counter terrorism and reduce checks and balances, contrary to the need for reforms within a rights framework and in adherence to Sri Lanka’s commitments to protecting the rights of all its citizens.
Furthermore, we support the peaceful protests that occurred this week in response to the killings from across Sri Lanka; an outcry from a large number of individuals on such brutal killings, the critical/urgent need for justice and the immediate end to the existing culture of impunity. The authorities must heed this call.
While key leaders have made statements in the last week with regards to this particular case, we call upon the authorities to move beyond token words, to action.
Speedy and demonstrable action to mete out justice on this incident, and adequate compensation and continued support to the two families, is urgently required with no further delays or attempts to cover-up. It is time the authorities demonstrate to the people in the area and across Sri Lanka that the rule of law prevails and that every effort is being taken to ensure justice and the non-recurrence of violence.

 

Civil Society Condemns Attack

Civil society activists from Sri Lanka strongly condemned the recent fatalshooting of a student and related death of another student from the Jaffna University and call for an independent investigation to ensure justice.

The killing of Natarajan Kajan (23 years) and Pounraj Sulakshan (24 years) by the police, on 21st October 2016, occurred at Kulappidi Junction, Kokuvil, Jaffna. Subsequent to the shooting, five police personnel were arrested with the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) taking over the investigation. We note the arrests occurred only after an outcry by local groups in response to the initial attempt to cover up the incident by the police. We demand that the judicial process be independent, impartial and fast-tracked.

The incident also highlights the role of the police and the shortcomings of their conduct, a point also highlighted by the Inspector General (IGP) of Police, Pujith Jayasundara. We call on the authorities to urgently revisit specific law and order arrangements and security procedures, including on the use of firearms, in the North and East, as part of an overall assessment of procedures in Sri Lanka. We also note the issues of police inaction, delays and abuses require systemic changes and as such call on the authorities to initiate reforms within the police, security and justice sector.

It is also paramount that the National Police Commission inquire into this incident and initiate necessary reforms and action within the police. We also note with concern that this is in a context where authorities are discussing efforts to broaden the powers of the police in the guise of counter terrorism and reduce checks and balances, contrary to the need for reforms within a rights framework and in adherence to Sri Lanka’s commitments to protecting the rights of all its citizens.

Furthermore, we support the peaceful protests that occurred this week in response to the killings from across Sri Lanka; an outcry from a large number of individuals on such brutal killings, the critical/urgent need for justice and the immediate end to the existing culture of impunity. The authorities must heed this call.

While key leaders have made statements in the last week with regards to this particular case, we call upon the authorities to move beyond token words, to action.

Speedy and demonstrable action to mete out justice on this incident, and adequate compensation and continued support to the two families, is urgently required with no further delays or attempts to cover-up. It is time the authorities demonstrate to the people in the area and across Sri Lanka that the rule of law prevails and that every effort is being taken to ensure justice and the non-recurrence of violence.

 

 

5 Comments for “Jaffna On Edge After Shooting Incident”

  1. raj

    If the government is not behind this attack, then it should look the individuals within the police who were behind this shooting and what their motivation. Is there any reason to believe former Defense Secretary was directing some people in the police and army to create tense situation in Jaffna in order to create political unrest so they can arise politically with the creation of new political party.

    • lkcricket

      You are highly qualified to be defense analyst and probably USA can employ you in FBA

  2. gamarala

    The motto of the police should be “To Protect and Serve” as in other countries.
    The northern governor has replied to a request for justice, by students, in Sinhala without a Tamil/English translation, as required by law.
    This has not helped to improve confidence in the government.

  3. Mahen

    Initially the police tried to record this as an accident. When it was revealed at least one of the students namely the rider died of a gun shot, the story changed to a runaway rider who did not stop at a police check point who was shot dead.
    Strangely as recorded above the runaway rider had sustained a rifle shot on the front of the chest. Our mind boggles on the tragectory of this shot entering the front of the body when someone was riding away?
    Our police are not known to show much intelligence at the best of times. But this one takes the cake!
    One of President Sirisena true heroes!

  4. ra

    Government’s response for who is behind AVA group?
    http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/-Aava-a-Gota-creation-Rajitha-118572.html

    the same person is behind so many unresolved crimes including Lasantha’s murder.

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