Thanges Paramsothy ( PhD Research Student in Anthropology, School of Social Sciences, University of East London)
On 14 May 2015, morning around 8.30AM, a domestic helper who informed landlady of an incident of rape and murder of a student studying advanced levels in Pungudutivu MahaVidiyalam. The landlady, an eighty years old, was listening to the incident scolding the unknown person/s who committed the crime. I came out of my room and listen to her. She explained the incident as follows:
“An eighteen years old student, S. Vidhiya, went to school on 13May 2015 from her home. She did not return homeafter the school. As she did not return home in the evening, Vidhiya’s brother went to the school in search of her. He got to know that she did not attend the school. Her brother with their relatives were searching for her, but they did not find her immediately. They eventually reported about her disappearance to the local police and continued searching her. The next day early morning, on the way to the school from her home, her bicycle was found. One of her shoes was found near her bicycle and other was in another place. Her dead body was found inside the bush in Vallan, ward-10 in Pungudutivu. Her legs were separately tied to two separate trees. Her hands were tiedtogether keeping behind her head. She was raped and then murdered.” She finished telling the incident and started doing her usual work in her landlady’s home.
The incident was understandably very disturbing. I wanted to obtain further information about this incident, so I decided to visit the place of the incident. When I went there, the police were present in the area. Nobody was allowed to see the body. However, some people after getting to know about this have visited the place and seen the body before the arrival of the police. The people’s facial expression showed that the body was in a terrible condition. Even though people were not allowed to see the body after the presence of the police, they were talking about the murder with anger, fear and suspicion. After a while, the body was taken away from the scene.
Following the incident, the school students and teachers were on the road condemning the murder and demanding for justice for the affected family and the safety of the students in general. A three-wheeler, which carried loudspeakers, announced about the murder and requested Pungudutivu’s people to join the protest. The school head master said that those, who committed crime, should be punished. The family who is affected by this incident should be given justice”.
Apart from this murder of the student in Pungudutivu, Jaffna in general has now become a land of gang-related crimes and alcoholism is on the rise. We regularly hear of murder, rape, gang fights and theft as common news in local newspapers. Women in post-war Jaffna seemed to be easy targets of sexual and physical harassment and verbal abuses. The local inhabitants are not happy with the way the criminals are treated by the police establishment and the law of the country. People claim that those who commit crimes are rarely arrested and punished. Even when they are arrested, they somehow get released without being punished. The crimes committed by local youths and gangs often go unpunished.
When a country slowly moves towards democracy, justice, peace and reconciliation in post-conflict scenario, allowing rooms for the incidents like this will create fear and distress among people who have already gone through difficulties during the time of the armed conflict. The crimes, which increasingly affect the potential harmony of the people and the country, need to be stopped by the authorities.
To achieve this, law and order must be made high priority, without any bias or corruption among the police.