Press Freedom Day bloodied by Uthayan attack
It was the day before World Press Freedom Day. The editorial department
of the Uthayan newspaper situated at Kasthuriyar road in Jaffna
was preparing for Wednesday’s edition of the newspaper when
three motorcycles arrived at the office.
men wearing helmets and with handkerchiefs covering their faces
alighted from the bikes and stormed the front office area of the
building’s ground floor looking around for a senior member
of the editorial staff.
One of the gunmen entered the marketing manager’s room and
probably assuming it was the editorial office opened fire instantly
killing marketing manager Bastian George.
gunman entered the adjoining room where the newspapers were being
prepared for distribution and shot dead Rasaratnam Ranjith Kumar
of the circulation department while he was lying down on the floor
hoping to escape attention. In the almost point-blank shooting the
bullets which pierced his body also badly damaged the cement floor.
one of the gunmen carrying either a T 56 or an AK 47 demanded from
a circulation department assistant the direction to the editorial
office. Soon they found their way to the Editorial office on the
upper floor of the building.
senior member of the editorial department and some of his colleagues
having heard the shooting had hidden themselves inside the room.
The gunmen unable to find any of the staff in frustration fired
at the computers causing serious damage to the equipment.
done their dastardly deed the gunmen who rushed back to their motor
bikes appeared panicky and anxious to make a quick getaway kept
calling out to the others still inside to hurry.
did not take very long for the gunmen to get in and get out of the
premises and in-between to cause maximum damage to the staff, the
office and the equipment.
one of the gunmen wanted to move towards the printing section where
the offset machines were set up, a biker called out to him saying
it was time to leave.
bikers soon rode away and having entered the main road, travelled
a short distance before proceeding in two different directions.
Two other newspaper employees who were injured in the shooting are
now reported to be out of danger.
after the incident the police arrested seven people including five
students and two employees of a shop who were playing a game of
cards at the time of their arrest.
were produced in courts the following day and released on bail.
A weapon reportedly found on the road after the shooting incident
is to be sent for a forensic examination to determine whether it
was one of the weapons used in the attack on the Uthayan newspaper
editorial staff told investigators that they believed a cartoon
drawn using a particular political party as the theme might have
prompted the attack.
Despite the attack the Uthayan newspaper appeared on the streets
the following day, though reduced to four pages from the usual 14.
Police have so far failed to make any major breakthrough, while
CID Assistant Superintendent J.A.C. Mark has been sent to conduct
1987 - The day after the IPKF bombed the Eelamurusu and the Murasoli
newspaper press machines the Sri Lankan security forces launched
an artillery attack on the Uthayan newspaper office area at Navalar
Road. Some 40 persons died in the surrounding areas, but only two
employees of the Uthayan Newspaper were injured.
– Air raid on the Uthayan newspaper office in Jaffna. One
employee was killed; five were injured including two who lost their
hands. 1995/96 – The newspaper removed its printing machine
in a tractor when the residents moved out of the area due to the
military operations to capture Jaffna town. The newspaper was not
published for six months.
– Newspaper sealed by the government and reopened after 45
2005 – Grenade attack on the Advertising office in Wellawatte.
2005 – Grenade attack on Uthayan newspaper’s Colombo
office where the Sudaroli newspaper is also published. One security
guard was killed.