Goldsmiths beaten, then worked

[TamilNet, Friday, 17 April 1998, 23:59 GMT]
Thirty eight youth who were rounded up yesterday in the village of Annamalai, about 36 kilometers south west of Batticaloa, were severely beaten up by the Special Task Force for not reporting to its camp in the area on their arrival from Colombo where they are employed as goldsmiths. The boys had come home to Annamalai on leave for the Tamil New year.

Annamalai is a traditional village whose inhabitants are all goldsmiths. Most of these are employed in Colombo as craftsmen of gold jewellery. Many of them were formerly employed in Jaffna as well.

The village, which stands out in stark contrast to its poverty stricken, arid agricultural surroundings, grew exceptionally wealthy in the eighties after many of its youth who were skilled in the old traditions of making gold jewellery found lucrative employment in Colombo, Jaffna and other towns of the island.

In due course a large number of these ventured out on their own into the gold jewellery business and made money, the kind of which is very rarely seen in these parts of the Batticaloa district.

The STF normally expects, according to residents of Annamalai, that the goldsmith youth who come on leave or holiday from Colombo or elsewhere should report to its camp on arrival and then regularly pay the grocery and arrack bills of the STF commandos until they (the goldsmiths) go back.

The youth who were taken yesterday had not done so.

They were not only beaten up but were made to perform hard menial tasks before they were released said residents.

Two of them have sought medical treatment for abrasions and contusions sustained during the STF's assault on them.

 

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