Long arm of the lawless strikes down another innocent life
Twenty-four-year-old, Subash Indika on Wednesday night was returning home to Mirigama, after collecting the interest on money lent by a businessman.
He was accompanied by 17-year-old Samudra Chathuranga. They had travelled up to Warakapola and were riding along the Kandy-Colombo road approaching Pasyala junction. Home was about 15 minutes away in Kithulwala, a village five kilometres off Mirigama town.
Traffic was heavy with pilgrims as it was Poson Poya.
“It was around 11.30 p.m. We were approaching Pasyala junction. I saw a group of about five policemen waiting by the roadside. As we approached them, one of them signalled us to stop,” Chathuranga related.
“Indika stopped his motorcycle close to the policemen. The policemen approached us and one of them drew his weapon and poked Indika with it. At this point the weapon went off. Our bike which had its engine running, went a few metres ahead and both of us fell off the bike,” Chathuranga said.
“Indika shouted in pain for a while and then went silent. Except for one, the rest of the policemen disappeared. I shouted out for help and a van stopped and Indika was carried into the van. The policeman who remained on the scene also got into the van,” he said.
Indika was driven to Wathupitiwala hospital and was pronounced dead on admission.
Chathuranga, the sole eyewitness to the incident on Friday, is in hiding, fearing for his life.
He claims that the policemen appeared to be under the influence of liquor. However, they had not been subjected to a medical test soon after the shooting.
However, less than 24 hours after the incident, the Police spokesman told a news conference that Indika had failed to stop at a roadside police checkpoint after being ordered to stop, and thereafter, was fired upon by the police.
“The motorcycle rider tried to knock down the policemen and therefore, one of them of fired,” he claimed.
“However, as there was a different version from the pillion rider who claims that a policeman came close to the bike and shot the rider, we are investigating both claims. We are also recording other eyewitness accounts. We will take action according to the Magistrate’s verdict,” he said.
Acting Magistrate Siripala M. Pathirana who visited the scene of the incident, has directed a inquiry for Monday. He has ordered the police to conduct further investigations.
Back in the village, Indika’s family members including his wife, Maheshika Madhubashini, with her one-year-old daughter, were mourning the death, while preparing for the funeral on Saturday
Anger over the death was simmering among the villagers.
“It is clear that there has been a shooting incident here. The Government should conduct a full investigation, without trying to suppress the incident,” Indika’s father Sunil Jayasinghe told the Sunday Times.
“The manner in which the police acted even after the incident was unacceptable. They avoided us until about 2 a.m. There were no policemen at the Wathupitiwala hospital police post,” he said.
He said that one of the aspects of the investigation should be to look at the distance from where the firing took place.
He said that, though eyewitnesses had said that the bike had fallen close to where the policemen were on duty, the investigators had marked a different location.
“My son was not a wanted person by the police. He had no problems with the police,” Mr Jayasinghe said.
Meanwhile the funeral of Indika took place yesterday in his village in Kithulwala amidst a protest by area residents.
The protestors including men and women carried the coffin chanting slogans and holdingplacards calling on the government to take action against those responsible for killing innocent civilians before placing the coffin on the main Mirigama – Divulapitiya road for about one and a half hours.
Superintendent of Police (Kelaniya) S.K.Vidisingha has been appointed to probe the shooting incident. No arrests have been made so far.