Twenty one fundamental rights (FR) petitions filed in the Supreme Court, against the unlawful arrest and torture of innocent civilians of Navanthurai, Jaffna, by the Military and the Police, following incidents pertaining to the ‘grease devils’ phenomenon, were taken up on Thursday and listed for support on October 27.
The Bench comprising Justices N.G. Amaratunga, S.I. Imam and Priyasath Dep directed that notice be sent to the respondents other than the Attorney General (AG).
Petitioner Veenas Regi together with the other petitioners cited Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Army Commander Lt. Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya, Jaffna Security Forces Commander Maj. Gen. Mahinda Hathurasinghe, Inspector General of Police N. Illangakoon, Commander 51 Division Janaka Walgama, Commander 512 Brigade Ajith Pallawal, Deputy Inspector General of Police Neil Daluwatta, Senior Superintendent of Police Nevil Pathmadeva, Assistant Superintendent of Police A.M.C.A. Bandara, Headquarters Inspector Saman Sigera, Woman Police Constable Nadeeka and the Attorney General as respondents.
Consequent to unidentified individuals referred to as ‘grease yakas’, allegedly with grease applied on their bodies to evade arrest, intimidating, harassing and causing bodily harm to innocent civilians of the North, East and other areas of Sri Lanka, the military and the police have arrested and detained many innocent individuals unlawfully.
Petitioners claim that despite complaints to the police of several incidents pertaining to the ‘grease yakas’, they had not taken any action to arrest them, while senior Government officials and the Police deny that such incidents have taken place. The Defence Secretary is reported to have stated that the security forces had acted calmly and wisely, and that maximum punishment would be meted out to anyone who crosses the limit and takes the law into their own hands.
Petitioner states that on August 22, around 9 p.m., he saw about 40 to 50 people shouting and moving towards Navanthurai junction. Then around 11.30 p.m., Army personnel arrived at his house, assaulted him and his sister’s husband with wooden and iron rods, and forcibly took them to the Navanthurai market junction, where he saw several people who had been arrested by the military. They too were forced into the buses and taken to the Jaffna Police Station.
Petitioner further stated that after he was assaulted, he was forced to sign a statement written in Sinhalese, of which he did not understand a word. He said that after the proceedings he was admitted to Jaffna hospital.
Petitioner states that his fundamental rights to freedom from torture, right to equality and equal protection, and his language rights guaranteed under article 22 (1) and (2) of the Constitution have been violated.