One killed, three wounded
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 19 January 1999, 19:53 GMT]
Four civilians from the hamlet of Vammivettuvaan near Vaakarai, 56 kilometers north of Batticaloa, who have been missing since January 13 when they had gone into the jungles to collect honey were traced today.
Inquiries by TULF MP for Batticaloa K.Thurairajasingham this morning upon receiving a complaint from the father of one of the missing persons revealed that three of them are being detained by the Sri Lankan Police at Welikanda, a Sinhala border town 68 kilometers northwest of Batticaloa and that the fourth was shot dead by the army.
The four men, according to informed sources in Vaakarai, had set out on January 13 with a boy from Vammivettuvaan to the vast jungles west of Vaakarai to collect wild honey for sale.
After roaming the jungles for hours, they had rested for a while and then, having instructed the boy, K.Sinnavan,13, to look after the honey they had collected during the day, the four men had set out on their task again.
A few minutes later, Sinnavan had heard the burst of gun fire in the direction in which they had gone. Scared for his life, Sinnavan had run back to the village and reported the matter to his relatives.
Fearing the ire of the army at Vaakarai, the families of the missing men had not reported the matter to anyone outside the village.
But Kanapathippillai, the father of one of the missing persons, who lives in Santhiveli, 26 kilometers north of Batticaloa heard the about the incident and went to Vammivettuvaan a few day ago to find out.
He reported the matter to TULF MP K.Thurairajasingham immediately upon his return from Vaakarai.
The MP contacted the SLA base at Minneriya, 120 kilometers north west of Batticaloa. The army detachments on the western border of the Vaakarai jungles in the Polannaruwa district come under the SLA's 3 division, the headquarters of which is at Minneriya.
The SLA told the MP that three men were arrested by troops from the Thirukonamadu detachment (The Vaakarai jungles spread west into the Polannaruwa district beyond Thirukonamadu). He was also informed that they are being held now at the Welikanda Police camp.
The fourth person, Kanapathippillai Kopal, 32, according the Minneriya SLA, was shot dead by troops on a special small group operation into the Vaakarai forests.
His body had later been handed over to the Polannaruwa hospital, 95 kilometers northwest of Batticaloa.
As no one had identified or claimed the body of Kopal, the hospital had buried him at state expense on January 17.
Kopal is the father of two children.
The other men currently being held at Welikanda are: 1.K.Selvarajah, 58, (Kopal's uncle) 2.K.Rajan, 33, (Kopal's cousin), father of two children. 3.S.Thevarajan, 35, father of three children.