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“Amma they are bringing young boys and girls here and shooting them dead”

On May 21 2009, Sarojini Naganathan had a final phone call with her son, Rajiv Naganathan, a 19 year old who was abducted on September 17 2008, reports the Sunday Observer in a piece this week. 

Rajiv was one of 11 predominantly Tamil youths at the centre of an abduction for ransom racket run by Sri Lanka Navy personnel.

“Amma they are bringing 18 - 20-year-old boys and girls here and shooting them dead,” Rajiv had told his mother over the phone. Sarojini told the CID that Rajiv had seen pools of blood on the ground as he was being led to the bathroom, and was scared he would suffer the same fate.

Rajiv borrowed a phone from a Naval guard at his place of detention known as 'Gun side' within the Trincomalee Naval Base to make his final call.

Sarojini recorded each of the calls she received from her son after his abduction in a diary. She told the CID that her son had confided in her about horrific scenes unfolding inside the detention cells. She told the CID her boy had sounded terrified.

In its B report to the Fort Magistrate’s Court last week, the CID confirmed that investigators believed Rajiv Naganathan had been murdered after May 21, 2009.

“Information has been revealed that youth, both female and male aged 18 - 20 had been shot and killed at ‘Gun side’ illegal detention cells which were under the command of suspect Sumith Ranasinghe,” the CID told courts.

The parents of the abductees were devastated when this information was revealed at last week's inquiry at Colombo's Fort Magistrtate. For over a decade they had held on to the hope that their children would be found alive.

Presenting witness statements, the CID told the court that Lieutenant Commander Krishan Welagedara, a member of Naval Intelligence and Seaman Seneviratne, both who served at the Eastern Naval Command when the abductions took place, have admitted to seeing Rajiv and several others of the abducted 11 at ‘Gun side’. Welagedara went on to reveal that he later found out the abducted youth were killed and he had seen the bodies wrapped in plastic sheeting being loaded into a truck.

“During this investigation, it has been revealed that Navy personnel had illegally abducted innocent Tamil, Sinhala and Muslim youth for ransom, illegally detained them at ‘Gun side’ in the Eastern Naval Command while mentally and physically torturing them, only to eventually murder them,” IP Nishantha Silva said.

Jennifer Weerasinghe, the mother of missing youth Dilan Jamaldeen, said she does not believe the CID’s version of events. Her son was one of the four friends who had been abducted along with Rajiv in September 2008.

“I will not believe that my son is dead,” she said. Weerasinghe said she would only accept the death of her son only if she is presented with definite proof of his demise.

“They have to find our boys or they must give us proof that they have been killed,” Weerasinghe added.

See more from the Sunday Observer here.