The progress of ongoing criminal investigations into the grisly killing of several Tamil youths following a racket of abduction for ransom, spearheaded ‘allegedly’ (here, I use the term quite deliberately) by a Naval officer and others during 2008-2009 will be the crucible on which this Government and this Presidency’s commitment to promises made, will be tested most severely.
Fair differences between then and now
Unlike other instances of the killing of youths, such as what occurred in Trincomalee in 2006, ready excuses cannot be offered as to the chain of evidence becoming cold or pointing to key witnesses living overseas being reluctant to return to testify, as would be naturally the case given the trauma that they have had to undergo.
It must be fairly acknowledged that one distinguishing feature of the current ‘yahapalanaya’ administration is that the Navy suspect was arrested and produced before court which would have been out of the question if the Rajapaksas were still in power. Then again, the fact that the Court inquiring into the matter had proceeded to act according to law is also another demonstrable difference when compared to the past. These officers of the state must be commended to the highest extent possible for carrying out their functions with due diligence despite the enormous and impossible strains put on them by political forces.
The Naganathan residence on Shoe Road, Kotahena is dark and dreary. Inside, it is as though time has stood still for the once happy Naganathan family, since the abduction of their son, Rajiv Naganathan, almost 10 years ago by a suspected, organized Navy abduction for ransom gang. Since his disappearance, Rajiv’s parents, especially, his mother Sarojini Naganathan has left no stone unturned in the search for her only child. Her only focus is the return of her child. Splitting her time between caring for her ailing husband and numerous court visits, Sarojini now spends most of her days at kovils and temples, praying for the return of her son, and inviting the fury of the Gods upon those who took him away from her.
Before all this anguish (September 17, 2008, was the last time Sarojini saw her son) those were happier times. The International School educated Rajiv had just been accepted to a University in the United Kingdom and, had left home to spend time with friends before leaving Sri Lanka. The five friends including Rajiv went mysteriously missing that day, in Badowita, Dehiwala on their way to meet a man identified as Mohamed Ali Anwer, later revealed to be the informant of the abductors.
Recalling the day, Sarojini says, it was she herself that withdrew money for her son so he could treat his friends. She wavers between profound emotion when speaking of Rajiv, and shaking anger at the mere mention of his abductors.