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Army-students clash averted in Jaffna

[TamilNet, Sunday, 23 November 2003, 06:26 GMT]
Soldiers of the Sri Lanka Army Saturday night deliberately destroyed a decorated structure constructed by the students and civilians at the Parameswara junction along the Jaffna Palaly trunk road in connection with Great Heroes Day celebration by crashing their heavy vehicle against the structure. A group of army soldiers at the scene had reported to have loaded their guns when a group of students at the site objected to the army's action, police said. High tension prevailed at the site when a gunshot was heard.

Later it had been reported that one army soldier was wounded as his gun had gone off accidentally and thereafter soldiers hurriedly withdrew from the scene, civil sources said.

The row started when an army truck knocked down an arch that the Jaffna University students were putting up across the Palaly Road in front of their union office around 10. 15 p.m. Saturday night.

Mr. S. Gajendran, the former President of the University Students’ Union who was on the arch fell into the army truck when the vehicle knocked the structure.

Other students in the area who heard the commotion as Gajendran jumped off the truck, came surrounded the vehicle and blocked traffic on the road for an hour.

Soldiers fired in the air to disperse the protesting students, residents in the area said.

“It was dark. We heard the firing and the commotion. There was blood on the road when the truck left the spot”, a resident said.

Police sources in Jaffna said the injuries were due to gunshot. The Police sources said the cause appeared to be misfire in the dark due to panic in the army truck.

Later on Sunday early morning around 1.30 a.m. a group of police personnel forcibly entered the office of Thamileelam Students Federation despite the objection by students' representatives that they would not allow entry in the absence of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission monitors. However the police party had forcibly entered and conducted a thorough search in the federation office, sources said.

“We checked the students’ union office thoroughly after midnight to see whether there was anything else behind the incident”, a Police source in Jaffna town said.

The SLA was not available for comment.

 

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