|Brutal and senseless killing of Red Cross workers
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|Author:||Percy [ Sat Jun 16, 2007 10:36 pm ]|
|Post subject:||Brutal and senseless killing of Red Cross workers|
Brutal and senseless killing of Red Cross workers
Police investigations immediately after the killing, revealed that the van used by the abductors, belonged to Karuna. According to military intelligence, the first message that the RC delegation had arrived in Colombo, was dispatched from Batticaloa itelf. Thereafter, the delegation was allegedly followed by men attached to the ‘Karuna’ group, with State assistance. Finally, it is believed that Shanmugalingam and Chandramogan were incorrectly identified by the ‘Karuna’ group.
Sunday June 10, 2007
The bodies of the two local Red Cross workers who were allegedly abducted near the Colombo Fort railway station on Friday night were found by police from an estate in Kiriella, Ratnapura on Saturday.
Kiriella Police Inspector Yasawardene Weeratunga said the victims identified as Sinnarasa Shanmugalingam (32) and Karthekesu Chandramohan (27) might have been killed elsewhere before their bodies were dumped in the estate.
On the information that some unidentified bodies had been found at the Dumbara Estate in Kiriella, the Red Cross officials went to the site and identified the bodies.
The brutal and senseless killing of these Sri Lanka Red Cross (SLRC) workers is unpardonable.
Mr. Shanmugalingam and Mr. Chandramohan who were from the Batticaloa branch of the Sri Lanka Red Cross had attended a seminar at a hotel in Mount Lavinia and were returning when they were reportedly abducted from the Fort Railway Station, a Red Cross official said.
Shanmugalingam and Chandramogan were outstanding, and hence, nominated to various workshops.
Only three weeks prior to their killing, they were sent to Colombo, from Batticaloa, for training in Logistics, at a 3-day workshop organized by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Society. The invitation was sent from Hong Kong Red Cross Society. At the end of the workshop they returned to their base in Batticaloa.
Subsequently, the Colombo Red Cross requested the Batticaloa branch chairman to nominate six workers for a workshop on Project Planning Process. This time too these two deceased were nominated along with four other workers.
The Red Cross (RC) delegation left Batticalao for Colombo by train on May 30 to attend the workshop scheduled from May 31 to June 1. On completion of the workshop on June 1, all six Batticaloa based RC workers came to Fort Railway Station at 4.00 pm. The train to Batticaloa was scheduled for 7.15 pm.
Having purchased their tickets the RC employees moved to platform No. 4 of the Fort railway station. At approximately 4.45 while they were discussing the just concluded workshop, four to five men, dressed in civvies, approached them and wanted them to produce their Identity cards. The RC employees had produced their SLRC accreditation cards, which the interrogators rejected and demanded for their National Identity Cards (NIC).
The RC employees were interrogated collectively and individually on the platform while onlookers gathered around them. The interrogators, fluent only in Sinhala, said that they were from the CID and demanded more information from Chandramohan and Shanmugalingam in particular.
The ‘CID’ men had then wanted the duo to proceed to the Police Station. At this point, a colleague suggested that he accompany them since the duo were not conversant in Sinhala, to which the ‘CID’ men agreed and the three RC employees left the railway station.
Chandramohan and Shanmugalingam boarded a white van with tinted glass, parked outside and when the other colleague followed, he was pushed away, stating that they had personnel for translation. Then the van had sped off.
The colleague who was pushed out, on regaining his composure, had attempted to write down the registration number of the vehicle. The van halted. An individual got off the vehicle, grabbed the pen and threw it, while saying that they were from the CID.
However, the colleague was able to write the registration number of the van, 252 – 6432, before the van sped off again. He then met up with his other RC colleagues and telephoned the head of SLRC in Colombo.
Prior to their departure, the abductors had instructed the other four RC employees to proceed to the Fort Police Station where their colleagues would arrive shortly. Since the train to Batticaloa was about to leave, two employees stayed back and instructed the other two to entrain to Batticaloa.
The two RC employees who stayed back proceeded to the Fort Police Station, expecting to see Chandramohan and Shanmugalingam. To their dismay, the Police stated that nobody had been arrested and brought to the Police station. Thereafter, an entry was lodged of the incident, at the Fort Police Station.
The following day, June 2, an RC employee in Batticaloa had informed the RC Chairman of Batticaloa, of a Shakthi news report of two bodies recovered in Ratnapura.
Further inquiries revealed that the bodies were that of Shanmugalingam and Chandramogan.
Poorest of the poor
Both victims hailed from the east and were from very poor families. Their only wealth was their commitment to serve vulnerable groups in conflict areas.
Sanmugalingam was born in Vilavedduwan in Vavunathivu DS division. A product of Central Methodist College, Batticaloa, he joined the SLRC in 1997, as a volunteer and was trained in basic first aid, advanced first aid and given special training on instruction.
In recognition of his ability to lead and his determination to further himself, the SLRC sent him for advanced training in disaster management, relief activities for flood, tsunami and war victims.
He was promoted a District Volunteer Unit Secretary in June 2006 and permanently employed.
Shanmugalingam was the head of the district first aid committee, district disaster preparedness committee, the district dissemination committee and the recently formed district relief committee, with total volunteer workforce of 1007 from the entire district.
His father is a labourer. He has two sisters. One is a divorcee, while the other is doing her O/Ls at St. Cecilia Convent, Batticaloa. Due to the present conflict, the entire family was displaced in February this year and are languishing in Satharukkondan IDP camp.
Shanmugalingam was operating from an IDP camp. Often, he slept on the floor of the Batticaloa RC office.
Chandramogan was born in Kaluwankerny in Eravur Pattu DS division. A product of Chenkaladi Central College, he joined the Red Cross in 1999, while studying for his A/Ls.
His keen interest to learn the history of the Red Cross and its seven principles, found the Society guiding him in this direction.
He had been sent to Colombo, Negombo, Kalutara and various other places for training and experience.
For his outstanding performance, the Red Cross promoted him as the Assistant Branch Executive Officer in January 2007, and was handling the administrative work of the sub office at 9, Lake Road Number 1, Batticaloa.
Like his colleague, he too came from a very poor family who were from Kaluwankerni. Their entire property was washed away by the 2004 tsunami.
His father owned a small boutique in Kaluwankerni and was killed five years ago over a personal dispute. He has five sisters. Chandramogan was the sole breadwinner of the family, after his father’s death. Of the five sisters, two are married. One is a teacher, while two others are still studying.
SL Army prime suspects
The killing could not have taken place without even a semblance of State complicity. President Rajapaksa himself admitted that there was a conspiracy to tarnish his image but, failed to identify its source.
Military analysts say that a terrorist group does not have to engineer a conspiracy to tarnish the image of the President or, the country. The LTTE does not need to believe in a conspiracy theory for its ruthless abduction and killing of its enemies, as and when it wants.
If the RC workers were on the LTTE hit list, they would have been killed elsewhere, not in Ratnapura, where access to the district is difficult for the LTTE. If the LTTE are the actual killers, then there is a serious security lapse.
Adjoining the Fort railway station is a military check post, while there are several checkpoints between Colombo and Ratnapura. It is not practical for any group, other than with State patronage, to accompany strangers, dead or alive, from Colombo to Ratnapura.
At the time the duo were bundled into the van, their ‘interpreter’ colleague who had accompanied them up to the van, had, in fact, heard some men talking in Tamil from within the van. This points the finger at one of the paramilitary groups that work closely with the Sri Lanka Army.
Police investigations immediately after the killing, revealed that the van used by the abductors, belonged to Karuna.
Wolves among sheep
As the government is severely blamed for the killing of the RC workers, The Nation reliably learns that a section of the armed forces continue to work with the ‘groups’ opposed to the government.
Hence, senior State and military analysts hold both the Karuna group and a section of the armed forces responsible for the murder of Shanmugalingam and Chandramogan.
Motive for the killing is uncertain, however, it is alleged that the killing has been carried out by a section of the armed forces on the instructions of the ‘Karuna’ group.
Karuna’s men may have learned of links between the victims and the LTTE, in the east. However, there is no concrete evidence to establish this. An investigation conducted by The Nation reveals that both Shanmugalingam and Chandramogan have had no links, either with the LTTE or, any other subversive units operative in the northeast.
According to military intelligence, the first message that the RC delegation had arrived in Colombo, was dispatched from Batticaloa itelf. Thereafter, the delegation was allegedly followed by men attached to the ‘Karuna’ group, with State assistance.
Finally, it is believed that Shanmugalingam and Chandramogan were incorrectly identified by the ‘Karuna’ group.
To date, no arrests have been made in connection with the murder of the two RC workers.
According to Director CID SSP Nimal Kulatunga, the CID is working ‘round the clock’ to apprehend the culprits.He denied reports that it was the CID that questioned the RC workers at Fort railway station.
“Anybody could pose off as the CID. It has become a serious problem. Those who commit crimes, conveniently blame the CID. There is only one CID in Sri Lanka. However, those who pose off as men of the CID, claim they are from Badulla CID and Galle CID and so on. There is nothing called Badulla CID or Galle CID. There is only one CID in Sri Lanka,” he said. He stressed that the CID was trying to find out the cause for the killings and also apprehend the culprits, within two weeks. “I think we could manage to investigate the crime, before President Rajapaksa invites outside sleuths to do the job,” he said.
@ MURDER most foul / Nation on Sunday
Sunday June 10th, 2007
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