2ND LEAD (Correction)

Sri Lankan police at war with Tamil journalists in Jaffna

[TamilNet, Thursday, 09 April 2015, 22:44 GMT]
A two-member squad, dressed in civil clothes, was trying to knife three journalists in Jaffna after chasing them in a motorbike for 2 kilometres at Nalloor on Tuesday night. The journalists were returning to their offices in two motorbikes after collecting news of a hunger strike when the incident took place. The journalists managed to escape from the attackers and rushed to the Police station in Jaffna to lodge a complaint on the assassination attempt. At the police station, they saw the motorbike of the attackers parked inside the premises and the alleged attackers were a police inspector and a sergeant. The police officers at duty refused to file the complaint from the journalists. In the meantime, another reporter from Point Pedro has been remanded on Wednesday for filing a story about an attempted rape of a school girl by a police constable belonging to Nelliyadi police station.

[L-R] Journalists Vinojith Tharmapalan, Piratheepan Thampithurai and Mayurathan Sreeramachandran
[L-R] Journalists Vinojith Tharmapalan, Piratheepan Thampithurai and Mayurathan Sreeramachandran

Mr Tharmapalan Vinojith, the staff reporter at Yaazh Thinakkural, who is also the chairman of Jaffna Press Club, Mr Piratheepan Thampithurai, the Jaffna correspondent of Hiru TV and Mr Mayurathan Sreeramachandran, the reporter of Ada Derana and Tamil Mirror were the three journalists, who were intercepted by the two-member squad at Nalloor around 9:45 p.m. on Tuesday.

When the journalists spotted the attackers wielding knives against them, they managed to flee from them.

The journalists say that the attackers in civil clothes were also wearing t-shirts used by the police. One of them was wearing a helmet.

When the three journalists arrived at the Jaffna police station, they witnessed that the attackers were already there and that they were policemen from the same station.

The policemen at the station not only refused to register the complaint of the journalists, but they also attempted to assault them, the journalists said.

A complaint was accepted only on the following day, on Wednesday, after a long process and that too was registered as a ‘minor offence’, the journalists said.

In the meantime, the Senior Police Superintend in Jaffna was seeking to negotiate with the journalists on Wednesday night in attempt to avoid legal proceedings against the policemen, informed sources in Jaffna said.

Although the SL police has now accepted that it was two of their police officers who were behind the incident, the police says that their men took the knives only for their ‘personal security’. The involved police officers have in turn alleged that the three journalists had attempted to assault them and that they wielded the knives only in their self defence.

The journalists say that the attackers intended to cause major harm as the squad had chased them for 2 kilometres and pointed knives against them while intercepting them. “How could three journalists confront two trained police officers who were armed with knives”, one of the journalists asked.

In the meantime, a spokesman of the Jaffna Press Club (JPC) has said that the three journalists have been continuously harassed by the SL police, the so-called Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) and the SL military intelligence in Jaffna.

The journalists Mayoorathan and Vinojith have been harassed after they brought out a news of houses being destroyed inside the High Security Zone (HSZ) in Valikaamam North. Majurathan was also subjected to an attack on the road by an unknown squad, the JPC spokesman said.

The journalists, who do not want to drop the case against the police squad, have approached the Human Rights Commission in Jaffna on Thursday.

“We still remember that the assassinated journalist Nimalrajan was harassed by police squad that visited him before he was slain,” one of the journalists told TamilNet.

Meanwhile, S. Logathayalan, a journalist working for Uthayan and Thinakkural was remanded on Wednesday for investigations against filing a story on an alleged rape attempt by a policeman from Nelliyadi station.

The story was published in Uthayan paper on Tuesday. The story didn't mention the name of the policeman.

On Wednesday, the SL police went out with a denial against the story in the same paper.

The SL police wanted the editor T. Premananth and the staff reporter Logathayalan to record their statements at their station. But, Logathayalan was arrested after he gave his statement and was taken to the court on the same day. Point Pedro court's acting Magistrate P. Subramaniyam remanded the journalist till 17 April.

The journalist was released on bail on Thursday. It is very strange that the journalist was legally remanded for publishing a story that didn't violate the norms of journalism, journalists in Jaffna said.


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