13th July 1997


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Mirror Magazine


The heartbreak behind those headlines

For many, an assassination is just news. For others it is a
political issue. But for the family of the victim, it is
heartbreak and shocked disbelief. Roshan Peiris
spoke to the family of Arunasalam Thangathurai.
Away from the headlines and the political ha ho she saw
the trauma of a breaking heart.

She is eighty eight years old and last Saturday night her acquaintance with death, when her much-loved son Arunasalam Thangathurai was assassinated is something her mind cannot take. She sits alone with her morbid thoughts and does not eat, drink or talk to anyone but only in a soft endearing voice, full of pain she keeps repeating her beloved son's name.

The late Mr. Thangathurai's only son, twenty three-year old Ahilan, a second year CIMA student who lived with his father at the M. P's. hostel was out when the shattering news came. When he returned, there were crowds of people waiting to see him, but to lessen the shock he was first not told of the death of his father, a Deputy President of the T. U. L. F. and one dedicated to peace and harmony among all people. He was told his father was badly injured.

Ahilan said "my father being a kind man thought he had no enemies, and when he went to Trinco he refused to take his security men with him. I saw him on Saturday morning and he told me he would return by Monday as he had to attend Parliament. But he did not came back. I still cannot believe it.

"He was strict on discipline but always made me and my two sisters make our own decisions by subtly guiding us. He never smoked and did only a very little social drinking.

He often told us, the family, that he had no enemies and no threats. He was a simple man and believed that there was no evil in people.

One of my sisters is in London and the other with my mother is living with an uncle in Madras. They received the news of his death before me and returned that same night.

"I still wonder how my mother stood the journey. She is so distraught and traumatised that she said she could not speak.

"One of the last things my beloved father told me was that he was hoping to go to Trinco on July 12 (yesterday) to attend St. Mary's College annual get together.

"He was keenly conscious at all times on the need for good education for all. But now he won't make the journey. Instead he lies cremated with only his sacred ashes left for us.

"My mother is fifty-four and I just don't know how she will carry on without my father. They were very close".

His voice broke as he said "I still can't believe he is dead and feel that at any moment he will walk in with his natural smile."

Workers of Asian banks unite

Employees of banks in Malaysia, Pakistan, Nepal, India and Sri Lanka have decided to form a joint trade union to protect their rights and the interest of their countries, a local union official said yesterday.

At a news conference in Colombo, an official of the Ceylon Bank Employees Union said the Asian confederation would fight together on issues such as privatisation and pressure from the World Bank or other monetory organisations.

He said bank unions from other Asian countries have also been invited to join,

Dhamma discussion

A panel discussion on Dhamma in English will be held next Sunday from 10 a.m. to 11.30 a.m. at the Colombo YMBA building in Borella.

The panelists will be Bogoda Premaratne and T.B. Ratnayake while the moderator is Rajah Kuruppu. The subject will be 'How to Grow Old Gracefully'.

Uva CM ill, flown to C'mbo

Uva Province Chief Minister Percy Samaraweera was flown to Colombo for urgent medical attention after he suffered a chest pain on Friday. Mr. Samaraweera who was first admitted to the Badulla Hospital intensive care unit was flown to Colombo in the company of two doctors. He was admitted to a private hospital.

Who killed Thanga?

Three in net but speculation rife

By S.S. Selvanayagam

The vital eastern port city of Trincomalee rocked by last Saturday's assassination of senior TULF Parliamentarian A. Thangathurai is still tense amidst continuing speculation as to who was responsible for the killing.

Police have arrested three suspects with alleged LTTE connections and believe it was a Tiger job. But Brigadier Nihal Jayakody said he could yet not point a finger at anybody except to say there had been a serious lapse of security on the part of the school authorities. Reprimanding the school authorities he said they had not informed the police that a senior politician would be attending the ceremonial opening of the school building.

Such lapses have occurred before also and the killers would have been aware of it.

Mr. Thangathurai and six others, including two school principals were killed in a grenade attack followed by a hail of bullets as they emerged from the opening of a building at Shri Shanmuga Hindu Ladies College in the heart of Trincomalee.

Trinco's Senior Police Superintendent T.N. de Silva, said a three wheeler driver M. Koneswaran alias Babu and a security guard of the Ports Authority S. Nijanthan alias Nijan and another suspect M. Murugathasan alias Jerome had been arrested.

He said plastic cans containing explosives, ingredients for the manufacture of bombs and LTTE fund raising forms had been recovered from Nijan.

He said the suspect M. Murugathasan, whose LTTE pseudonym was Jerome had another indentity card under the name of 'Gunaratnam Shakespeare'.

The three wheeler driver Babu and Murugathasan were notorious thugs in Trincomalee.

According to the statements given to the police, Murugathasan had thrown the grenade at Mr. Thangathurai while another suspect still in hiding had shot at the MP and others.

Sub Inspector M.I. Baithulla said when the suspect Murugathasan tried to swallow a cyanide capsule, he stopped him and in the struggle the suspect bit his hand.

He said the suspects had confessed they had killed Mr. Thangathurai because he was co-operating with the Kumaratunga govt. in developing the Trincomalee district.

Despite the police claim of finding substantial evidence, Tamil political leaders and Tinco residents are sceptical. While some residents spoke of mercenaries behind the killing, TULF Vice President V. Anandasangaree said various groups had been given weapons and the blame could not be put on the LTTE without concrete proof.

This view was shared by his party leader M. Sivasithamparam, who, while vowing that the gun would not silence the TULF said he had no basis to suspect any group but could only point out that the TULF had opponents among the Tamils and in the Sinhala community too. In the Thangathurai family also any comment regarding the group responsible for the killing was guarded.

Mr. Thangathurai's brother A. Pakiathurai said he did not wish to comment until investigations are completed.

In a show of strength to underline the links between the govt. and the TULF, several cabinet ministers attended Mr. Thangathurai's funeral on Wednesday while President Kumaratunga sent a message to the family saying she was deeply shocked over the brutal killing.

2 suspects identified

Meanwhile latest reports say that two out of the three suspects produced at the indentification parade held in connection with the assassination were identified by two eye-witnesses yesterday.

At the parade held before the Acting Magistrate of Trincomalee, K. Selvarjah, the suspects were identified as the two persons who fled the scene of the crime immediately after the bomb attack.

EPDP MPs appeal against expulsion

By K.M. Weeraratne

The Supreme Court has ordered the Commissioner of Elections to submit the constitution of the EPDP to refer the matter of expulsion in the petitions filed by two Jaffna EPDP MPs against the leader of EPDP, Douglas Devananda.

These petitions are to be called before the Chief Justice G.P.S. de Silva, Justices S.W.B. Wadugodapitiya and S. Ananda Coomaraswamy tomorrow.

Rajendran Ramamoorthy and Rajendran Rameshwaran, Members of Parliament for Jaffna District from the Independent Group 2 had filed these two special leave applications in the Supreme Court last July 2nd, challenging their expulsion from the EPDP in June 1997.

The petitioners said that no chargesheet was served on them and neither were they given time to explain any charges directed against them prior to Devananda deciding to expel them from Independent Group 2 and the EPDP. The dictatorial attitude of Devananda is against the principles of natural justice and the Constitution of the EPDP, the petitioners said. The petitions requested the Supreme Court to declare null and void, the decision of Devananda to expel the petitioners from Independent Group 2 and the EPDP.

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