25 July, 2024


On The Killing Of Jaffna University Students: In Search Of The Right Path

By Purujoththaman Thangamayl

Purujoththaman Thangamayl

Purujoththaman Thangamayl

The incident of two Jaffna university students being killed due to gunshots by the police has set off countless arguments and debates. A majority of these arguments come from one single perspective. They highlight this incident as a ‘racist attempt’ or as ethnically motivated. But, there exists a necessity to list out the issues surrounding this incident. That will be the healthiest way to deal with it.

Firstly, the fact that the students have been subject to shooting amounts to their killing being an act of murder. If the Police Officers had committed this act they need to be punished. This is because, when police officers on night patrol do not have the power to attack someone in a way that leads to his death, but acts that result in death occur (in whatever form it happens) it should be basically looked upon as murder. Fundamentally therefore, the killing of the students should be treated as an act of murder and after the investigations justice should be provided. On this basis, it becomes necessary that any and all mistakes those police officers made should also come to light.killing-of-two-jaffna-university-undergraduates-in-jaffna-kokuvil

Secondly, it should be investigated whether extreme intoxication on power was the reason behind the police officers committing this horrendous killing. That, requires taking into cognizance what measures they took at that time, the amount of alcohol in their body and many other such issues.

Thirdly, in reality did those two students not pay heed to the police officers’ request to stop for a police check? Or, were they indeed checked, allowed to proceed on their motorcycles and then shot? This also needs looking into.

Even if these three issues are investigated upon and answers found, if the police had used their gun/s and shot the students it would still lead to the basic fact that this was murder. Therefore, if the police had used their gun/s to shoot then they are the perpetrators of this act of murder as well. There are no doubts on this matter. The path to achieve justice therefore becomes easier.

Instead, if these basics are thrown aside and the fact that this was a ‘racist attempt’ is highlighted it will give ammunition to making the situation more complicated. Primarily, it will make the Sinhala South refer to these two students as Tigers or Terrorists, spread such rumors amongst the Southern polity and create opportunities for the perpetrators to gain their sympathy.

Sri Lanka is governed by ethnic conflict. There is no question on that. But, in such a situation without handling any issue in an appropriate manner, pushing such an approach aside and instead pouring ghee on the fire of racism will only lead to more problems. This will not benefit the Tamil youth.

Another issue that arises is the question as to who will control the ever increasing number of killings, robbery and rowdyism that has started plaguing the North –East including Jaffna. Judge Ilancheliyan put the STF on the ground and ordered the Police to control these acts. What are the basics behind this order? And, how much authority (and necessarily, what are the limitations) has been provided to the police on checking those who travel on the roads needs to be looked into as well.

Further, ‘Sinhalese Police have easily shot Tamil students, because it is easy to kill Tamils in this country, that fact is beyond any question’ is a basic opinion that is prevalent among the Sinhala South. This is because the Sri Lankan armed forces and police have committed countless acts of violence and murder against the Tamil- Muslim population. But, in the killing of these students whether this is the most predominant issue or whether it is an adjacent issue needs to be considered.

This is important because necessarily the predominant issue needs to be considered before we go on to adjacent matters. Instead, if we forget about the predominant issue and start making the adjacent matters our main focus it might lead to grave consequences.

A small example, in 1998 a former LTTE member was called to the Point Pedro Army Camp for investigation and subsequently beaten to death. In the judicial proceedings that followed, an army officer was found guilty and judgment was given recently that he be handed a suspended jail sentence and an order was made that he pay compensation of 2 Million Rupees to the family of the victim. But, this issue was taken up by racists in the South and they collected money on the accused’s behalf. The money he had to pay as compensation was largely gathered by the Mahinda group. Here, more than the crime, the fact that the murder committed by the army officer was correct was the sentiment that was created amongst the Southern polity and through which this money was collected. We must not allow similar sentiments to be spread regarding the murder of these two students.

Another issue relates to the encroachment and killings by security forces including the police and the army. The police are faced with a continuous litany of complaints not just in the North- East but also in the South. This matter has to be handled impartially by the government. This alone will address the basics. Instead of that if the ‘patriotism of the nation’ is given importance, it will only result in more innocents being killed. That will after a stage not only target Tamils and Muslims but start taking victim Sinhalese people as well. At that stage everything would have gone beyond control.

That the perpetrators who murdered these two students need to be severely punished is the basic call. That will be only one part of justice. Because, the loss of these students is forever non reparable to their parents and families. Nothing can compensate for what they have lost. Indeed, there is never a complete justice for any murder.

*Purujoththaman Thangamayl is a journalist and columnist. This post is a translation of the original in Tamil.

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Latest comments

  • 5

    These articles are dishonest and as usual are tribalists. Why don’t they report from the Tamil police officers that were on duty at that time.

    The most important point is lackrespect to law from tamils. When Tamils report anything they include ethnic bias in to it. Secondaly, this guy here does not talk why two students in the middle of the night crashed the barricade. That is lack of respect to the law.

    The shooting is totally fair, because the police were expecting some violent gang. What if these students were sent by that gang prior to they going thourh this barricade ?

    Govt should take that into conseration and tigthen the way law is implemented in the Sinhale North. that will make the safety of police officers working in the north.

    This lack of respect to law is the same violence that Tamils showed in those days when they were the smugglers from Tamilnadu.

    • 7

      Faceless trash generator at it again. If he thinks the readers here are as pea-brained as he is, he should know that he should take his marbles outside too play with his buddies (such as KAsmalam). Police tried to cover up. The IGP lied to the President. Ponnayaasss’ campaign is at close second position to Trump’s campaign!

      • 3

        Rohan, thanks buddy. Unfortunately Jim Shitty’s marble got kicked by a Tamil guy and it fell off long time ago. Please note: Jim Shitty was born only with one marble and he lost that too to that kick.

    • 0

      This is not good enough , we do not need US style policing . Meanwhile, the minister concerned is in Kiwi land one month , and tasting chocolates in Belgium the next . He is certainly over worked the poor man .

    • 0

      However these killings cant NO MEANS be targeted ones AND regardless of that, they should be inveistgated accordingly. Right at the moment, with most strict police under the new IGP, we hardly beleive, the kind of issues could occure intentionally.

      • 0

        Police and army should stop this primitive practice of shooting at speeding vehicles, they should have a backup vehicle to follow and arrest the culprits if they do not stop. The President should intervene and stop this Stone Age practise.

    • 1

      was this equally horrible incident reported and condemned by these so called activist?

      Police Sergeant and Constable Slashed with Swords in Chunnakam by Unidentified Motor Cyclists.

      these youth have faced tragedy to bad policing which takes part in all sri lanka now they have fallen victim to those who are using communal angle to publish articles and playing politics. typical. We should all condemn and call for improvement of police action to benefit all of us. But communal politics used by Tamil a few have reared its ugly head again They don’t give two **** about these youths. First deaths registered in Jaffna due to Gun violence since 2009

  • 3

    how much authority (and necessarily, what are the limitations) has been provided to the police.

    IF the police find their lives are in danger, they have the RIGHT to shoot.

    that is the authority.

    In this case, these students, were not careful and did no obey the rule.

    • 0

      Two police intelligence operatives (spies) were attacked with knives and swords in Jaffna near the home of one of the Jaffna University students killed in an alleged police shooting.

      Meanwhile the Tamil political parties have called for a ‘hartal’ (stoppage of civil activities) and a day of mourning in the north to register their protest with the government over the incident and to show the world what the Sinhalese are still doing to the Tamils.

      Also, they want the policemen involved in this murder to be punished to the maximum.

      • 0

        Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena has announced that he has ordered to pay compensation and to immediately conduct an independent inquiry. The Tamil Civil Society Forum (TCSF) has cast doubts over the independence of the investigation due to police attempt to cover up the shooting.

        Meanwhile, a group of Police officers have visited the Parents of the two Tamil university students killed by police gunfire in their homes in northern Sri Lanka and have demanded that they `give up taking the issue further and come to a settlement`. They have offered money and jobs for any unemployed in the family in exchange for dropping the case.

        It is all clear that the Sinhalese don’t care that they have murdered Tamil Students and are willing to provide ‘Blood Money’ to cover up their racism. Will the Sinhalese accept ‘Blood Money’ if they are killed by Tamils in Colombo?

        Hope that Tamil JMO who established that the students were killed by shooting does not become missing.

  • 2

    Good stuff, Purujoththaman Thangamayl.

    You have listed a few things, looking from both sides.

    The ‘minority’ is concerned because such incidents are always swept under the carpet. Remember what happened to those six students who were killed in Trincomalee a while ago? Even in this incident, after shooting the boys, the Police tried to cover it up. They reported to the IGP as an accident, and IGP himself reported to the President that it was an accident. The IGP did not, and probably will not go back to the chain of reporting to fin out the false report to take action.

    Luckily, Police stopped with offering compensation and footing the bill for funeral, pandal, soft drinks and biscuits in this case. In the past, the family would have been either gagged or threatened.

    We have emotional Tamils, who would see this as a ‘natural thing’ as they have seen a lot. Then, there are Sinhala chanters who would somehow find fault in the boys (I am not talking about some ponnayas who hide behind the pseudonyms and fake names to trash anything that is non-Sinhala Buddhist).

  • 5

    It is unfortunate such an incident had to happen but to draw a conclusion no proper details are available yet. It may be true that these two students may have gone at high speed and even did not stop at a police checkpoint when asked to stop. May be these students were also under the influence of alcohol. But without a very valid reason (unless they were gun carrying terrorists) how come the Police open fire and kill them?

    The SL police and armed forces and even the people are so used to killing and there is absolutely no value for human lives in Sri Lanka. Buddhism has completely lost its value and exists only as a label. This kind of incidents will bound to happen unless the whole value system changes but I doubt that such a thing will happen in SL in the near future.

    When people protested for drinking water they were murdered, people who spoke the truth were abducted in white vans and vanished, people who surrendered had been murdered, people in prison/custody were slaughtered in cold blood, Tamils were burnt alive in ’83, Muslims were killed in Aluthgama with the influence of the Buddhist monks, JVP youth were killed and burnt with tyres during 1987-89 and Rohana Wijeweera was thrown into Kanatte incinerator while he was still alive. It happened to all the races/religions in SL and under both UNP and SLFP regimes.

    This is why I say we have no hope and no values for human lives in Sri Lanka. These kinds of murders are going to happen even in the future not only in the North but also in the South.

    Fortunately in this case, the SL President Maithripala Sirisena should be commended, he intervened directly to stop police covering up the murder of two Jaffna university student and got five police officers immediately interdicted. Shortly after police headquarters dismissed the death of two students as a fatal motorcycle accident, President got the information department to issue a fresh statement setting the record straight.

    • 0

      Janaka Fernando,

      Thanks for this wholesome comment.

      I will only add that all religions have been rendered mere labels in this country.


  • 3

    I have never heard of Muslims being murdered by Police except in an extra ordinary situation in Aluthgama, but i have heard of a policeman being beaten to death by Muslim protesters in Puttalam in 2007 in which no one was punished.

  • 0

    In recent weeks security in various parts in Jaffna and the suburbs have been increased following complaints of robberies, sword fights and hooliganism on the directive of Jaffna High Court Judge M. Illanchelian.

    However, the influx of motorized vehicles particularly motorbikes and scooters have increased significantly in the past seven years leading to fatal accidents almost everyday in the Peninsula.

    Despite the introduction of effective measures to streamline traffic in Jaffna, the ‘breakneck’ speed of motorbikes, cars and auto rickshaws have created a fear psychosis among road users in Jaffna.

    Unscrupulous elements also use motorbikes extensively for nefarious activities.
    As Police Stations have been reopened, after several years to maintain law and order, the stations in the Northern Province are flooded with complaints not only of accidents but on motorists involved in criminal activities.

    Following the increase in Court cases with regard to criminal activities, drug related incidents and reckless driving, Jaffna High Court Judge M. Illanchelian faces an arduous task in dealing with those cases. He had frequent meetings with law enforcement officials to maintain law and order.

  • 3

    Recent news from local sources indicate that the Policemen were under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol at the time of the incident.

    Is it true that the arrested policemen are in Anuradhapura jail? One wonders why!

    “While expressing shock and disbelief at the speed in which the authorities had reached their decision to take legal action taken against the police personnel involved in the incident” says his royal highness, Mervin Silva!! Then he says, “The Jaffna Police had done a praiseworthy job in eradicating social menaces in the district such as drugs, murders, rapes and robberies”!!!

    Why can’t we take these wonderful cops to maintain law and order in the night clubs in Colombo and the surroundings??

  • 2

    This sort of sad killings will happen until the Government removes the Singhalese armed forces.Police etc; from the North/East. Builds up confidence and sends Tamil soldiers/police to manage law and order in the North/East.

  • 0

    Let’s look at this incident with sanity and determined inquisition.
    1) The details of the incident from an impartial inquiry. Did these students stop at the police check point? Were they allowed to go? How far were they from the check point before they were shot at?
    2) It is said that one student had a gun shot wound through the head. If as claimed they were speeding away how good a sharp shooter this police man should be to shoot through the head of a speeding motorbycicle?
    3) No proper details of the post-mortem have been made available. Was there alcohol in the blood of both students? If so how high? Did the second studen had gun shot wounds as well? If so where?
    4) Were the policemen inebriated?
    As the journalist calls let’s have a detail analysis of the incident and look for motives without branding it as a ethnic battle.
    We know the police are indisciplined and corrupted still as demonstrated by the number of DIGs who are convicted or remanded for murder. The officers are worse in the north and east.

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