Mystery surrounds disappearance of five youths

Baffled police still looking for clues and a motive

By Asif Fuard

The fate of five youths from Kotahena and Maradana who went missing on Wednesday night remains a mystery. Meanwhile, police and family members continue their search. The five boys have been identified as Rajiv Naganadan (21); Pradeep Vishwanandan (18)’ Ramalingam Thilakesh (18); Dilan Jamaldeen (23) and Mohamed Sajid (24).

Rajiv, a past student of the Colombo International School, had invited his friends Pradeep, Thilakesh and Dilan to his house in Shoe Road, Kotahena, for a farewell dinner, as he was due to leave for Britain the following day to pursue his studies. He had gained a place at University College London, where he was planning to study medicine.

Rajiv was to travel with his father, G. Naganadan, a textile businessman. Their flight was scheduled for 1.30pm on Thursday.

At about 11 pm on Wednesday, Rajiv told his parents that he was going with his friends to the Sleek Salon on Vajira Road, Bambalapitiya, saying he wanted a haircut before his trip. The salon is usually open till midnight.

Rajiv set out with his friends in his black Tata Indica, bearing number plate WP KC 5559 (the car too is missing). On the way he picked up his friend Mohamed Sajid, in Bambalapitiya. Sajid is married and the father of an eight-month baby.

Rajiv and his friends were last seen driving past the HSBC bank on Bauddhaloka Mawatha. A close friend of the Naganadan family said the car was heading towards the Galle Road, and that it turned at the junction in the direction of Kollupitiya.

Worried that Rajiv was getting late, the Naganadan family tried calling their son on his mobile phone, but all they heard were the words: “The mobile you called is not responding. Please try again later”. The family started to panic when they found that Rajiv’s friends’ mobile phones were also switched off. By the early hours of Thursday, Rajiv’s friends’ families had been informed of the situation.

On Thursday morning the families of the five missing boys lodged complaints with the Kotahena and the Maradana police. So far, the police have found no clues relating to the boys’ disappearance, nor have they been able to establish a motive.

Some time back, Rajiv’s father was abducted by an armed gang and later released. Asked whether it was possible the same fate had befallen the missing young men, a cousin of Rajiv’s told The Sunday Times the family had no idea why anyone would want to abduct the boys.

“We don’t know why anyone would want to do this to Rajiv and his friends,” he said. “Rajiv has no enemies. He is generally a very peaceful person. We don’t know what’s going on. “We have lodged complaints and spoken to highly influential people, friends of the family, and asked them to help us trace the five boys. It is a big mystery.”

Dilan Jalaldeen’s aunt told The Sunday Times that her nephew was a close friend of Rajiv’s, and that she had tried many times that night to call him on his mobile phone. Pradeep Vishwanandan, one of the missing boys, is also a cousin of Rajiv. He is an Advanced Level student at Hindu College, Bambalapitiya.

“We are worried about all five boys,” Rajiv’s cousin told The Sunday Times. “We hope and pray they will be released unharmed by whoever has abducted them.”

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