By Thanges Paramsothy –
A woman, who is the head of a family, runs a small vegetable shop in Pungudutivu after her husband left her and his two children. The earning from the shop is the only source of income for her entire family. She was also badly injured after an accident and now finds very difficult to walk. On 4th September 2015 around 10 am, a man with a knife attacked her shop. She closed the shop with the support of a neighbour fearing his action and stayed at home. He again attacked her shop in the evening on the same day. She informed about the incident to the Oorkavatturai police in Jaffna, as the police in Kurikattuwan, Pungudutivu does not inquire on or take action against such cases. She was informed that the police would visit in the following day in order to inquire about the incident. However, the following day early morning around 4 am, the man aggressively opened the shop by damaging the metal sheet, which was fixed covering the front side of the shop. The vegetables were thrown and some goods were taken. No body attempted to stop him destroying the shop. The woman who runs the shop was able to get know about this but did not attempted to stop him fearing her life.
The next day, she was waiting for police until 10 am. The helpless woman again went to Kurikattuwan police station in order to inform about the incident, as police did not come to the place. She was asked to inform about this at Oorkavatturai police station. She went to Oorkavatturai police station second time. She was again told that they would come to inquire. She was also given a telephone number. She kept her shop opened, as she wanted to show the condition of the shop to the police. She has been waiting for police during the entire day yesterday. However, nobody came. She called to the number given by the Oorkavatturai police. She was answered that they would visit the place. But they did not. She called to the number again after a few hours. There was no answer to her phone calls. Finally she closed her shop and stayed at home without knowing what would happen next.
*Photo by Thanges Paramsothy, the broken shop in ward-2, Pungudutivu
The helpless woman told me this incident as it is noted above. It is now three days after the incident. The police except taking a note on the incident took no action. I asked her whether I could write about this to a newspaper. She asked me whether it could cause problem to her particularly from the police. I asked why you did ask this question. She did not answer. I realised why she asked me that question. She eventually depends on police in order to get justice. Writing about the inability of police taking action immediately against injustice may create an unnecessary problem. It may further delay or they may ignore this incident without taking it as a severe issue.
Comparing with many other issues such as murder, sexual violence, robbery and so on, it can be a small issue for police establishment. But, it is definitely a bigger issue to a family who entirely depends on the income of a small shop. She has been closing the shop for three days. We cannot simply ignore this as a small issue. The person who did this may repeat similar activity, if proper action is not taken. This is what happened to the recent case of rape and murder of Vidhiya. The perpetrators, who were identified as criminals with some other incidents, were simply ignored and thus given an opportunity to involve in similar activities. This has ended with a brutal sexual violence and murder.
I think it should be brought up without fear. The police establishment is in a country to serve the affected people. People have the right to access justice irrespective of their class status or background. This is a family living in an isolated region depending on a small income from a shop. I think that the first priority should be given to serve such people. We hope the relevant authority will take the action soon.
*Thanges Paramosthy – PhD Research Student in Anthropology at the School of Social Sciences, University of East London