Police attack journalists in Jaffna melee

[TamilNet, Saturday, 11 October 2003, 14:39 GMT]
Four journalists were brutally assaulted while covering a clash between Police and crowds in the neighbourhood of Maambalam Junction in Jaffna town Saturday evening. One of them, Mr. K. Ithayapavan, a staff reporter of the daily Valampuri, was admitted to Jaffna Hospital with a severe head injury. Police hit him on his head with batons and smashed his camera after he showed his press accreditation card and identified himself as a local journalist, according to his colleagues at the Valampuri.

Police arrested and took away around 12 persons from Maambalam Junction during the melee, which is yet to abate, one of the assaulted journalists told TamilNet Saturday evening.

Local residents confronted Sri Lanka army troops and Police after a speeding military truck knocked an auto-rickshaw at Maambalam Junction, a suburb in the eastern sector of Jaffna town, around 4 p.m. Saturday, wounding one.

The verbal confrontation soon developed into a melee when Police fired warning shots to disperse the crowd of about 400 that had collected around the scene of the accident and was demanding action against speeding army vehicles.

Persons in the crowds had started pelting Police and army troops with stones, one of the reporters who was attacked by Police at Maambalam Junction told TamilNet.

Mr. S. Parthipan, a staff reporter of the Jaffna daily, Uthayan, Mr. S. Sivapalan, a staff reporter of the Jaffna daily, Thinakkural and Mr. A. Sabeswaran, a staff reporter of Thinakkural said the Police brutally assaulted them although they clearly identified themselves by producing their media accreditation cards issued to them by the Sri Lankan government’s Department of Information.

“The Police assaulted us specifically after they identified us reporters," Mr. Ithayapavan said.


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