On 17th January 2011, at around 2 pm, two students of St. Xavier’s College, Mannar were abducted by a group of unidentified persons in a white van as they were returning from school. (AJR aged 19 and AR aged 18) Both boys were in school uniform when they were abducted. There were no witnesses to the incident.
(AJR) and his family had suffered threats and intimidations from officers of the TID who accused his elder brother of having links with the LTTE. (AJR’s) father disappeared few years ago and was last seen being taken into the military camp at the 2nd Mile Post. Following several threatening visits and an attempt to abduct him, (AJR)’s elder brother has left Mannar and is attempting to leave Sri Lanka in order to protect his life. On one occasion, officers from the Terrorist Investigation Department (TID) in Colombo had visited the local Grama Sevaka (Village level Government Official) and asked for (AJR’s) elder brother by name. Based on the Grama Sevaka’s information the officers had visited his home and threatened his mother who was alone at the time. As a result of these incidents, (AJR) was late returning to the Seminary for 1st year the school term in 2011, after the Christmas holidays since he was afraid that he might be threatened in Mannar.
On 17th January 2011, (AJR) was returning from school with (AR), when the boys were abducted in a white van. They were made to lie down under the seat inside the van and were beaten and kicked continuously as the van drove around for around three hours. The boys were taken to an unidentified location, stripped naked, handcuffed and beaten and tortured repeatedly by their captors. They were given no food throughout this period. The boys and AJR in particular was questioned about details regarding his brother’s whereabouts and accused of having links with the LTTE. Although the boys are unable to identify where they were detained, they have stated that they heard the sounds of crows through the night, leading the locals to believe that the boys were being held in a location within Mannar Town, not far from where they were originally abducted. At around 8pm the following day (18th January), the boys were driven to (Kalliakattaikudu), near the 74th kilometer post, around 8 kilometers from Mannar Town and dumped by the road side, more than 24 hours following their abduction. Despite their injuries the boys were able to make it back to Mannar Town and contacted their parents, the priests at the seminary and the local police.
Fearing that the boys may have been abducted, several Catholic Priests had immediately lodged a complaint with the Mannar police who made no effort to locate the boys. Even by the following morning, the police had yet to launch an investigation into the incident. Priests had also informed the Brigade Commander at the Thallady Camp regarding the missing boys. An inquiry officer met a priest and took details, but denied any involvement in the abduction.
Following their release, the boys were immediately hospitalized and received treatment for their injuries. Both boys have been severely traumatized both mentally and physically by their ordeal. To date no investigation has been undertaken by the police or the military into the abduction and torture of the school boys. Following their release, the police compelled a priest to withdraw his original missing persons complaint. As a result of the community outcry against the incident, a senior Army official addressed an assembly of students of St. Xavier’s College and assured students and parents that such incidents will not take place in the future. Significantly, following the incident, the Commander, confirmed that more checkpoints will be placed inside Mannar and that ever vehicle leaving the area will be checked to ensure that such abductions do not take place in the future. As a result, while the abduction has not been investigated, it has been used as an opportunity to set up several military checkpoints in the area, which restrict the freedom of movement and feelings of insecurity among local residents.
Prepared by DU and RF, 28th Jan. 2011