Sirisena visits Jaffna to offer a healing touch to Tamils

The president’s visit came after violent protests broke out in the Jaffna peninsula last week after a 17-year-old school girl was gruesomely gangraped and murdered.

By Qadijah Irshad

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Published: Fri 29 May 2015, 12:36 AM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 9:27 PM

Colombo —  Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on Tuesday flew to the former war zone of Jaffna to defuse mounting tensions over the gangrape and murder of a Tamil teenage girl.

The president’s visit came after violent protests broke out in the Jaffna peninsula last week after a 17-year-old school girl was gruesomely gangraped and murdered.

President Sirisena promised to take swift action  to punish culprits responsible for the gangrape and murder.

“We will take stern action by producing the suspects connected to Vithya’s rape and murder in a Special Court,” said the president.

During his unannounced visit to Jaffna, president Sirisena invited the mother and brother of the victim to lunch and promised swift legal action, said presidential spokesman, Dharmasri Bandara.

Tensions rose in Jaffna after the battered body of the young girl was found with her hands and feet tied behind her a day after she went missing on May 14. The body of the girl, who was an Advanced Level student of one of Jaffna’s most prestigious schools, was located close to her home.

Although the autopsy report has not been released yet, local media reported that she was gangraped and suffocated.

For the first time since the end of Sri Lanka’s three decade ethnic war in 2009, violence escalated in Jaffna streets, with around 400 residents protesting, pelting stones at a Jaffna court house and burning placards. The entire town came to a standstill with shops, banks and schools closed.

The riots broke out, when nine suspects were produced before the Kayts courts last week. Despite a ban on protests by the government, the angry mob attacked the alleged suspects, demanding the police to hand them over to the public for ‘justice’.  The police countered by firing tear gas and arresting 130 protestors. Several policemen were injured in the melee, said the police spokesman.

The police revealed that the main suspect is a Swiss national of Sri Lankan origin. The Swiss embassy has however has said that he is a Sri Lankan with a residence permit for Switzerland.

Jaffna residents have blamed the police for their lack of interest in the case. The government said that three senior police officers have been transferred pending investigation of the public’s claim.

President Sirisena’s election campaign pledged swift action against perpetrators of crime.



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