|Udaya Perera Gopi|
On 11thApril 2014, the government of Sri Lanka announced that three former Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) fighters were killed by the security forces. A press release of the Ministry of Defence stated that ”in the early hours of 11 April 2014, three armed suspects who attempted to escape the area confronted the troops in the cordon. All three were killed and two of the dead were later identified as Sundaralingam Kajeepan Thevihan, and Selvanayagam Kajeepan aka Gobi. The third is yet to be identified, but is believed to be that of Navaratnam Navaneethan aka Appan.”
Further the statement said that ”an attempt for resurgence of terrorism in Sri Lanka surfaced in general area Pallai in the Jaffna Peninsula calling for launching another phase of the LTTE struggle for a separate state. Investigators made several arrests that led to recovery of arms, ammunitions, explosives and other material that were in their possession. ”
It is only through this statement that the country came to know that the new LTTE leader was Sundaralingam Kajeepan aka Thevihan and not the Selvanayagam Kajeepan aka Gobi. Until the said military confrontation the GoSL position was that Gopi was leading the LTTE revival within Sri Lanka.
According to the MoD statement the shooting between the three suspects and the military (2500 solders and 18 armed vehicles) took place on early hours of 11thApril 2014. But on 9th April Jaffna based Uthayanreported that three suspects including Gopi had been arrested. The Uthayanquoted the news story from major General Udaya Perera, the present Jaffna commander. So far general Perera has not disowned the story and MoD site has not published any correction to the Uthayanstory.
GoSL tell us that it had to deploy 2500 solders and 18 armed vehicles to surround and kill three suspects, who were already in custody! What is the reason behind the facade?
The questions do not end there.
The MoD statement does not say anything about the mysterious death of Selvaraja Kamala Raja, a military intelligence officer of Tamil origin. Divaina, a news paper linked to the government by ownership, reported on 12th April that ‘a soldier called Selvaraja who was attached to the army camp at Kokavil, Kilinochchi also died from the injuries received during the shooting’. The Sinhala language mouth piece of the Government, Dinamina in its lead story on 12thconfirmed the same: a Corporal sacrifices his life during the shooting’.
The Lanka e News quoted the two page entry made by the Officer in Charge (OIC) of the Puliyankulam police, Mohomed Jamal regarding the incident thus: ‘during the confrontation, Selvaraja Kamalaraja, ordinary soldier No. 776927, who was attached to the army intelligence division sustained gunshot injuries and was dispatched to the hospital.’ The entry was made in the early hours of the 11th April 2014.
Later Brigadier Wanigasuriya, media director of the MoD contradicted the story and said ‘Lance Corporal S.K.Raja of the army intelligence corps met with sudden death during training due to shooting following the firing of a firearm of another soldier by accident’. No information was given on the exact location of the ‘training’.
Strange enough, the entry made by ASP R.C.D Senadheera says that 4 haversacks used by the forces, four long term using food packets of the forces were found. (Lanka e Newsquotes form the three and half page entry). If only three suspects were killed, who owned the remaining haversack? Was the initial plan to portray all four of them as New Tigers?
The death of Lance Corporal Selvaraja Kamalaraja remains a mystery. It is clear that authorities are trying to hide the real reason for his death.
And no entry made by these police offices speaks of recovery of weapons used by the three suspects although government propagandists has written minute by minute details of the shoot out.
All the deaths occurred in Nedunkarni jungle of the Puliyankulamam police division. Puliyankulamam police division is located in the Vavuniya district and comes under the Vavuniya Magistrate. But all the post-mortem inquires were held in Anuradhapura district by Sinhalese Magistrates. Was there any valid reason to transfer dead bodies to Sinhala speaking areas for the inquest?
The bodies were not handed over to the relatives and the military took them over.
Why weren’t the bodies handed over to the family members? Even during the war before the last phase of the war all efforts were made to hand over bodies of either the solders or the rebels to family members. Was there any thing to hide? What kind of injuries had they received? Shot at close range or long range?
Lastly no media was allowed to witness the whole operation: Not mere censorship but no access at all was provided. Not even the post-mortems. Like the last phase of the war this operation too is a ‘mini war without witness’.
These unanswered questions and the way the whole story was twisted at every turn debunk the theories of possibility of credible internal mechanism to investigate past and present human rights violations in Sri Lanka. In the name of investigations what Sri Lankan police is producing is third rate detective stories. The story of Gopi and others death is one of them.
(Note: this article is not an attempt to discuss whether the so-called revival of LTTE is real or not.)