SLA death squad spreads terror

[TamilNet, Thursday, 28 January 1999, 16:58 GMT]
Aarumugam Kaaththalingam, 51, a poor plumber from Kokkuvil, an impoverished village on the northern outskirts of the Batticaloa town was gruesomely shot dead last night by unknown gunmen, suspected to be members of an SLA terror squad operating from a detachment nearby.

His body was found this morning opposite the Kokkuvil cemetry.

Batticaloa district Judicial Medical Officer (JMO) Dr.K.Chandrapalan who examined Kaaththalingam's body today told a TamilNet correspondent that a person or persons appear to have held the plumber firmly while a hand gun was placed on his left eye and fired.

The bullet, according to the JMO, had ripped through the left eye and come out through the left side of Kaathalingam's neck, damaging the brain and killing him on the spot.

Kaathalingam's wife Kandhappodi Pushaparaani,41, said in her statement to the Village Officer (Grama Sevaka -GS) V. Linganaathan that last night her husband had left home around 9 p.m. to spend the night at his eldest daughter's house which is in the same village he was meant to be on night duty at.

A litte while later she had heard the single report of a gun. She had been frightened and hence did not go out to check.

This morning her neighbours told her that her husband's body was lying in a pool of blood opposite the cemetery.

Kaathalingam was the father of seven children, two of whom are married.

The Kokkuvil Village Officer (GS) told the TamilNet correspondent that the plumber was a peaceable person who generally kept to himself and his family.

The GS, V. Linganaathan said he could not think of anyone who could have harboured any hatred towards the plumber. He added that Kaathalingam's family is very poor and would be devastated by his loss.

The location where the plumber was shot dead is about 500 meters from the SLA camp at Pillaiyaaradi by the main road on the town's border. The Kokkuvil cemetry is less than a kilometer from the Saththurukkondaan SLA camp.

On January 17, a youth, Ekaamparam Aanantharajah, 17, was shot dead near the Saththurukkondaan cemetery which is close to the Kokkuvil cemetery where Kaathalingam's body was found this morning.

The Police in Batticaloa have neither visited the spot where Aanantharajah was shot dead nor have they conducted any inquiry despite instructions issued to them by Batticaloa's Acting District Judge K.Thangavadivel who returned a verdict of homicide at Aanantharajah's inquest.

The judge directed the Police to investigate the murder of Aanantharajah and produce suspects in courts.

The Police are not doing anything because the involvement of the army is suspected said legal sources in Batticaloa.

They pointed out that court orders to the Police to investigate many murders in army controlled areas in the Batticaloa district in recent months have been similarly ignored as the involvement of the SLA in these crimes was ëquite obviousí.

Several Kokkuvil residents said today that the same terror sqaud that killed Aanantharajah is also behind the murder of Kaaththalingam. They claimed that it might be operating from the Saththurukkondaan SLA camp.

Kokkuvil and Saththurukkondaan were the scene of one of the most gruesome massacres perpetrated by the SLA in the history of Sri Lanka's ethnic conflict.

None of the soldiers and officers who were responsible for this massacre in 1990 were brought to justice despite two government appointed commissions which probed the mass rape and murder in Saththurukkondaan and Kokkuvil.

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