- Buddhika had been questioned by the police on two occasions in connection with the killing of a man
- However following a DNA test he was proved innocent
- Sri Lanka Youth Journalists’ Association complained about this place to the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission
- There had been no responses despite several written submissions to Police Commission
We received information about the killing of two persons after being abducted from Rathgama while we were engaged in an investigation to unearth the truth regarding a complaint of an alleged abduction by the police.
According to the information two person from Beliatta had been abducted on January 9 by some people who identified themselves as officers of the Rotumba Police.
However the authorities of the Rotumba Police refuted the alleged arrest of the two men
Further inquiries revealed that a man known as Buddhika –a suspect of a heroin case and released on bail–had been arrested on January 7 from Dampahala, Urubokka area by a group who identified themselves as police officers.
This man had revealed to the court that he was arrested by the police for having heroin in his possession, but added that he was only carrying a parcel given by someone without any knowledge of its contents.
He had pleaded not guilty and was later released on bail. However since then he had been subjected to frequent harassment by the police. He had informed the top police officers about the difficulties he was facing.
Buddhika had been questioned by the police on two occasions in connection with the killing of a man following a shooting incident on Hulankanda- Dampahala Road in Urubokka, Matara in October last year. However it was later revealed that the murder was committed by a close relation of the deceased. He was arrested again on suspicion in connection with a shooting incident in November in Rotumba and released. It appears that some police officers tend to arrest and harass the same suspect of earlier incidents when crimes repeat in respective police areas.
A good example for this is a person called Dunesh, who was arrested for the alleged killing a girl from Kotadeniyawa after raping her, and being beaten up. During this incident the police revealed to the media that the suspect had confessed that he had committed the offense. However following a DNA test he was proved innocent. Similarly Buddhika had also been the target of the police for different incidents that took place on different occasions in the area. Buddhika was abducted on January 7 by a gang that arrived in vehicles while he was at a work site. A witness had informed the emergency unit of the police about this abduction. Following the information Beliatta Police was able to trace the vehicle and order it to stop, but it had proceeded disregarding the police signal.
Meanwhile Buddhika’s wife had become concerned when her repeated calls to Budhikka went unanswered. This was because Buddhika had the habit of contacting the wife frequently. In the morning a businessman from Rotumba had visited Buddhika’s home and informed that the police had wanted him to inquire about the whereabouts of Buddhika and added that the police had told him that they would come in his vehicle to look for Buddhika.
Then he had left with the police officers from the place where Buddhika was abducted. This was in search of Buddhika. He mentioned that what he had said could be verified by viewing the CCTV cameras fixed along the route they had travelled.
Meanwhile Buddhika’s wife had kept inquiring from the police to find Buddhika. The law enforcement officers had repeated on several occasions that they had not taken him into custody. On Thursday she had informed the Emergency Unit of the Police about the matter. Subsequently a senior police officer has been assigned to probe the matter. Following investigations he had also informed that Buddhika was not taken into custody by Rotumba Police.
Two days had passed without success following the search for Buddhika. His wife went to the police again to lodge a complaint. Police however refused to record her complaint. She waited till the OIC had arrived and this officer then asked the officers, to record her complaint. Yet they were not willing to take note of her complaint. The woman again went to the OIC and gave details of her complaint, but it was still not recorded. When the OIC asked the officers one of them would tell something to the OIC. He called the Rotumba Police and asked the woman to meet the Rotumba OIC.
By now it was night and we inquired about the situation from the Urubokka Police. He then told us that there was no need to record the complaint by the woman as Rotumba OIC had already said that the missing man is now in police custody .
Meanwhile Buddhika’s wife, now dissatisfied with the response of Rotumba police, and taking into consideration her earlier experiences with the Rotumba police, decided to inform the emergency division of the police. As a result of not getting any response, she then informed the emergency unit of the Human Rights Commission.
Ignoring Police warnings
Rotumba Police now understand the gravity of the matter and in the morning of January 10 produced Buddhika in courts on the charges of keeping in his garden, weapons used in the murder mentioned earlier. Buddhika revealed in open court that he was badly beaten at the police station. But according to the JMO report there was no record of such a beating having taken place.
Beliatta Police had called the driver of the relevant vehicle, which was owned by a businessman. We inquired from the Beliatta Police why the driver who had ignored police warnings and continued to drive was not taken into custody. The police replied that they had done so because the vehicle in question was carrying a suspect who was arrested at the time.
The police had also informed the traffic unit regarding this vehicle. This incident confirms Buddhika’s arrest on January 9. And this suggests that the quick responses made by Director Nihal Chadrasiri at the Human Rights Commission and public relations officer there promptly answering calls may have helped in saving Buddhika’s life. Otherwise Buddhika would have suffered the same fate the two businessmen had recently faced.
I was at the house behind the other house. The van was stopped and parked facing the road. Four men got down from the van armed with weapons. There were 13 members in the gang and all were clad in uniform. They handcuffed Manju and Rasin with a single shackle
All these revelations indicate similar activities having taken place at the two police stations. However there is a slight change with the mediation of the HRC. This has helped to save the life of Buddhika who is now in remand.Unfortunately the Rathgama businessmen weren’t presented with this opportunity.
The suspects of both Rathgama and Rotumba incidents had been taken into custody without the knowledge of their families or making them aware of the reasons behind the arrests. And lack of a procedure make the two incidents look like abductions.
This is how G. Somadasa (58) father of Manju, who was killed after being abducted from Rathgama, gives details about the incident.
“It was January 23 and about 09.15 in the morning. We had undertaken to supply meat for two parties. My son was talking to the mother after delivering one load of meat to the shop. At the time Rasin had also come. My wife was at the other daughter’s home when the group of men came here. They came in a blue KDH van and a car.The car had been parked at a distant place. Later the car too arrived apparently as the van was delaying. I was at the house behind the other house. The van was stopped and parked facing the road. Four men got down from the van armed with weapons. There were 13 members in the gang and all were clad in uniform. They handcuffed Manju and Rasin with a single shackle. Residents told me that the police had taken Manju and Rasin into custody and they had seen among the group a person in uniform bearing three stars.
“We went to Rathgama Police to inform about the incident. But they didn’t record our complaint. A police officer named Bandula told us that the police would obtain the information about the whereabouts of Manju by evening and asked us to come after five. We returned and made our complaint. However the reference number relating to the complaint we made was not given to us.
“Then we also went to the Galle Police. SP Sathis Gamage called the Rathgama Police from there, but there was no response” Manju’s father continued.
“When we were holding the protest on 26th SP Gamage arrived at the scene and told us that he would find them within a week. We told him that we had doubts whether they would be alive after a week. Then he assured us that he would take the responsibility of the lives of these two men. The week began on February 3. We visited the police again and were told to have hope that they were alive. We kept on asking for our sons. On February 5 he told that they were fed up with these two people and added that they would hand over them to the CID.
“When asked about the reason behind their arrests, he told that if he revealed the reasons it would hamper investigations.
“Early morning on February 4 at about 4 my grandson had seen a few men in front of our house. We began to shout and made the neighbours aware of these men. There were only two of them. When the neighbours were rushing towards our house they ran away. Now we have fixed CCTV cameras. When we informed about the matter to 119, the officers from the Rathgama Police arrived, but they couldn’t catch them. After all this the CID officers came and recorded our statements. We think all these incidents happened with the knowledge of the police. We came to know about most of these incidents after receiving an anonymous letter. Usually we don’t receive letters by post. I think this was the first letter we have received. The letter came in the name of Samanthi. She is Manju’s wife. We call her Menika. No one here knows her by the name of Samanthi.
“There was the name Rohana in the letter. He is a police officer and we know him. He visits our meat shop. The original copy of the letter is with police officer Sathis.
“They had been abducted. When we rang their numbers their phones were ringing, but later there were silent. My son was in the Army, but he was later interdicted. He has been running a poultry farm for five years now” Manju’s father said.
We do not wish to discuss the story of the two men killed in a house in Akmeemana after being burned. They were abducted. It’s an old story to most of the readers.
However the point to ponder on is that it had taken one month to confirm the murder of the two men.
The team of officers led by Chief Inspector Ranjith Munasinghe of the Investigation Division, working under the guidance of Senior DIG of the CID and Ravi Senevirathna and the Director General SSP Shani Abeysekera, was able to unearth most of the facts relating to the murder within a few days. This makes the functions of the relevant two police stations questionable as they have not been able to find what had happened during such a long period of time.
They have done nothing on being informed of the missing duo on the day of the incident. They chose to ignore informing about the missing individuals to all the police stations and also the process of collecting of evidences such as examination of relevant telephone calls. These lapses create reasonable doubts and also fuels the thinking that there was a probable involvement of a higher ranking police officer in these incidents.
The police being tight-lipped about this incident until the CID under took the investigation adds to these doubts.
Besides the police had kept trying to convince the relations that the missing people were living. There is suspicion in the minds of people that effort was taken by the officers of the Rathgama Police and some top level officers to conceal the abductions and killings of the two businessmen by the investigations unit; which functions under the Southern Province Senior DIG. The prevailing circumstance also induces the CID to investigate into these matters.
The two victims are said to be suspects of a pending case, but reasons behind their latest arrests were not clear.
It has now been revealed that the house, where the killings took place, had been occupied by police officers on many previous occasions; leaving it to fuel further doubts that the place was the venue for other past killings.
There was evidence of the existence of a similar torture chamber in Kotadeniyawa. After the murder of a young girl by the name of Seya, at least ten villagers were brought to this chamber and tortured while being questioned.
Sri Lanka Youth Journalists’ Association complained about this place to the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission and the National Police Commission offered support providing affidavits, but all these complaints were in vain. There had been no responses despite several written submissions to Police Commission.
Had proper actions being taken regarding these complaints similar incidents would not have reoccurred.
Now there are new techniques which can be used during questioning, but the police seems to prefer using the old methods. Two traffic police officers had arrived and taken down the telephone number of Manju’s father after the discovery of the place where the bodies had been burned. They have said that the numbers would be sent to the police headquarters. After that he received another call from police headquarters where the informant had informed that Manju had been arrested in connection with a drug offence and detained in a far away place. And the caller had also told him that some money would have to be spent to bring his son home.
We told him that we had doubts whether they would be alive after a week. Then he assured us that he would take the responsibility of the lives of these two men. The week began on February 3. We visited the police again and were told to have hope that they were alive
The caller had phoned Manju’s father for the second time and asked him to come to the police headquarters two days after handing over the money to take his son home.
We were at the place when this call was received. By now the place where the bodies were burned had been discovered. However the relation did not reveal details of this telephone call because there was belief that the son could be saved. The CID must extend its investigations and find the link between demand made for the ransom and the police. The failure on the part of the Senior DIG of the province to take proper actions, when protests were held, and despite the revelation through the media in this connection, is also questionable. With regard to the killing of an SI in Kurunegala it was revealed that the suspect had attended a party, where liquor was served, where top police officer were among the invitees, before the killing took place. However this suspect was killed during the process where the weapons hidden were shown.
President Maithripala Sirisena in a recent speech said that the DIG is responsible in the incident if moonshine is found in the village. Hence the relevant DIG and the IGP are directly held responsible when a crime is committed by the investigation unit working under the directive of a DIG.
The two weeks delay in transferring the DIG and failing to inform about the transfer to the National Police Commission (NPC) together with the failure in appointing a DIG to the Southern Province are also matters that should be investigated into by the NPC.
If a vague policy is adopted regarding these grave matters, crimes of similar gravity can’t be avoided.