In February this year while a group of freshers of the Peradeniya University were being abused and tortured in a rented house off campus by senior students of the university, a group of schoolboys allegedly underwent a similar fate at the Rantambe training camp. A group of junior cadets of the Pilawela Maha Vidyalaya in Kundasale who were taken to the Rantambe training camp for an eight day cadet programme, were brutally harassed by their seniors. Parents of the ten victimized students, who did not want their identities disclosed for fear of reprisals, told Daily Mirror that when the alleged culprits were produced before courts, the video which contained visual evidence of the ordeal their children had gone through, was not produced.
Ten school boys allegedly harassed by senior students
On February 16 a group of twenty five cadets including ten junior cadets from Grade 10 and 11 took part in the eight day programme at the Rantambe training camp. However, their parents allege that three Advanced Level students of the same school, treated the children inhumanly, abused them and derived sadistic pleasure. When the parents visited the children on the sixth day of their stay the children have not informed the parents of the abuse as they had been threatened. Once students returned home on February 24 initially there was nothing to cause alarm. However, news spread that a group of students had been treated inhumanly and eventually the story unravelled as to what had taken place.
“My son told me that they undressed him, tied him to a bed and harassed him,” said the father of a victim. The abuse had taken place at night after 9.00pm. Some students had discovered that they were naked only in the morning, which has raised suspicion among parents as to whether the children had been given sedatives. The father also said that the abuse was so severe that students had even planned to escape. He said that if they had carried out their plan their lives would have been at risk as the camp was in a hilly area surrounded by electric fences erected against elephants.
"The police obtained statements from the victims and arrested the suspects. The victims were referred to the Manikhinna Hospital where they have been questioned"
The mother of another victim said that the three alleged suspects had videoed the incident through a mobile phone. On their way back from the camp the victims have informed the teacher-in-charge of their ordeal and the video, and he had confiscated the mobile phone. The mobile phone was later handed over to the Principal of the Pilawela Maha Vidyalaya.
The father who had watched the video said that he was distraught afterwards. “I couldn’t watch the whole video because the children were naked and they were struggling to be free from the seniors’ grip. In the first scene a boy who was gagged, was wriggling,” he said. The father also said that the children had been given saliva mixed food.
After several meetings with the Principal she had informed the parents that she was not in a position to take any action. When contacted by Daily Mirror Udeni Dunuwila, the Principal of the Pilawela Maha Vidiyalaya said that all necessary measures pertaining to the incident were taken, and that since the incident took place ‘some time back’ it was futile to publicize the story over and over again, as it affected the dignity of the school. When asked specifically as to the measures taken by the school in response to the incident, the Principal said that it came under the purview of the Rantambe Cadet school.
"The case will be taken up once again before the Mahiyanganaya Magistrate on June 19"
Parents said that the Rantambe training centre conducted investigations. However, attempts made to contact the National Cadet Corps were not successful.
Disheartened and disgruntled by the Principal’s response, parents had called the police emergency hotline 119. The Wattegama Police rushed to the scene and conducted preliminary investigations. Parents said that police officers were unable to watch the video completely, as the harassment was very disturbing. The police obtained statements from the victims and arrested the suspects. The victims were referred to the Manikhinna Hospital where they have been questioned.
The Acting Officer-In-Charge of the Wattegama Police IP Peiris said that initial investigations were conducted by the Wattegama Police and that the case was referred to the Hasalaka Police for further investigations. “After the incident was reported to the police, we got statements from the ten victims who were brutally abused. We arrested the three suspects. As the incident took place in Rantambe, it fell under the purview of the Hasalaka Police. Therefore, we transferred the case to the Hasalaka Police,” he said.
"On inquiry we found that the Hasalaka Police was in possession of the mobile phone, SIM and the memory chip. Its Officer-in-Charge Rathnayake said that they were produced before the Mahiyanganaya Courts"
According to the Hasalaka Police when the three suspects were produced before the Mahiyanganaya Magistrate courts on February 28, they were released on two sureties worth Rs. 100,000. Parents allege that the video recording was neither produced nor mentioned by the police before courts, and that the police was treating the matter as a trivial case when in reality victims are still mentally affected by the incident. Parents said that children still screamed and moaned at night, and that they have been given talismans to wear to protect themselves.
On inquiry we found that the Hasalaka Police was in possession of the mobile phone, SIM and the memory chip. Its Officer-in-Charge Rathnayake said that they were produced before the Mahiyanganaya Courts. “We can investigate into their content only through a court order. This may happen in future when it’s debated in courts,” he said. When asked about the video, the officer said that the content of the evidence produced before courts has not been investigated into, and therefore he was not aware. Further investigations are still underway.
The case will be taken up once again before the Mahiyanganaya Magistrate on June 19.