Horrors of Kumarapuram told in Court

[TamilNet, Friday, 31 July 1998, 23:59 GMT]
The Kumarapuram massacre case, where 24 civilians were killed, allegedly by the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) on February 11, 1996, was taken up at the Magistrate's Court at Muthur, 35 km south of Trincomalee, before Magistrate R. M. Jayawardene on Wednesday, said sources in Trincomalee.

In his evidence Veerasamy Kalimuththu (44), a tea boutique and grocery owner at Kumarapuram said that on February 11, 1996 around 5:30 p.m., he had heard gunshots and immediately put down the shutters of his shop. In the shop were Sittampalam, Krishnapillai, Lakshmi, Paikiyaraja, Mahalakshmi and a young boy Sutharan, all of whom had come to buy groceries.

A little later, a sound of persons approaching the grocery was heard and voice asked in Sinhala, "Who is in?". The occupants had remained silent.

A gun barrel was thrust through a chink in the door and there was firing. The youth Sutharan died on the spot.

Kalimutthu said he pushed the occupants more towards the grocery side of the store and hid himself under one of the tables. The assailants departed after firing a few rounds at the shop.

A little later there was another visit, said Kalimutthu.

Once again the visitors asked who was in the shop. He had replied that there were only women and children. The group departed.

Around 7:00 p.m., there was the third visit.

The visitors said "Women, come out," at which all the women and children went out.

Kalimutthu said he saw a group of armed men in uniform with black bandannas tied across their faces. Just then his wife and child also went out.

At that, he too had stepped out. He saw the group of women and children standing under the guard of the soldiers. Kalimutthu said he did not tell the soldiers about the males who were hiding in his shop.

The soldiers wanted the villagers to return to their homes. Then one of the SLA personnel started dragging away the girl Lakshmi. Kalimutthu tried to prevent her from being dragged away, but could not. He told everyone to shout out at the top of their voices.

They did, at which the soldiers told them to run. They ran to Lakshmi's house. There they found Lakshmi shot dead. Nearby was Vadivel Nadarasa who was breathing his last with gun shot injuries in his abdomen.

Kalimutthu did not return to his shop that night. When he did the next morning, he found the males who had remained in his grocery badly wounded, while one - Paikiyaraja - was dead. A girl Mahalakshmi (16) was missing. Her naked body was discovered in a deserted house nearby.

Ramapillai Sokkalingam (62), giving his statement said that he was in his home when had heard gunshots. Sokkalingam had stayed indoors all night, but when he came out the next morning, he claimed he saw 10 corpses near his house. Jesudasan Jeganathan (18) also gave evidence.

The next hearing will be on August 19, said sources.


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