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A tale of truth silenced in Sri Lanka

August 21, 2009 10:39 IST

The family of a Sri Lankan human rights activist, who was shot dead last year, is living in constant fear in an NGO in Kerala's Thrissur district.

Sugath Nishanth Fenando's widow Surangi Sandamali, daughter Kalpani Dilrukshi (17) and son Saneesh Anjana (13) are wary of an action from the Sri Lankan police. The family has been living in India for the past two months after the Asian Human rights organization directed them to Thrissur-based 'Nervazhi'.

Surangi told rediff.com the Sri Lankan police hated Sugath as he was constantly opposed the alleged human rights violations by the Sri Lankan police throughout the Island nation under the guise of hunting the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and other Tamil militant organizations.

Sugath was shot dead by two unidentified youths on a motorbike on September 20, 2008.

Surangi said Sugath and the whole family were brutally beaten up by the police a day before he was shot dead.

The family said that Sugath had purchased a lorry from a police office in 2004 and he had probed the records of the lorry. The detailed study into the documents gave Sugath an idea of how the police and certain influential sections in the Sri Lankan establishment were using the trouble-torn issues in the Emerald Island to their own benefit.

Sugath found out that most of the lorries and other vehicles, which were sold in the second hand market, had a stamp of the Sri Lankan police's interference and according to Sugandhi, the police were selling lorries and other vehicles that were either stolen property or which were confiscated from the militants.

When Sugath found out that there was a big cartel within the police, which was behind this racket, he promptly gave a written petition to the authorities. According to Sugandhi, Sugath refused to withdraw the petition despite pleas. He was brutally attacked and thrashed at their home by a group of 60 policemen led by the district Superintendent of Police the day before he was to depose before the court.

Following the assault, Sugath was taken to a police station and beaten up again. On his release from the station, he moved court against 14 top police officials who were involved in the attacks. The next day, Sugath was shot dead in front of his son.

Sugandhi told rediff.com that they were in constant fear even in Thrissur and had received a threatening phone call the other day in Sinhalese language. However, Sugandhi is determined to depose before the court again.

Arun Lakshman in Thiruvananthapuram