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Families of the disappeared: heartbreak five-fold

Rameshkumar disappeared during the final stages of the war. For his parents, Pushpanathan and Indrani, their grief in searching for him is five-fold. Rameshkumar had been their only surviving child out of five. His four siblings had been killed in the Sri Lankan military attack remembered as the Suthanthirapuram massacre.

Recalling the day, Pushpanathan said:

“On the morning of June 10, 1998, Sri Lankan army’s artilleries came flying from three directions - Mankindimalai, Ampakamam and Elephant Pass and started to fall and explode in Suthanthirapuram. At the same time, bombers rained down. An artillery fell over the shed we were in and exploded.”

“I saw my kids lying in a pool of blood. I came running to see my wife hitting herself in the head and crying aloud, not knowing what to do.”

“Four of my kids, Satheeskumar, Saththiyaseelan, Kalaichchelvi and Thevananthini died that day. Nobody was there on that day to take my children. When shells started to fall, everybody ran.”

“The whole place was covered in smoke. We were standing helpless, not knowing what to do or where to go. The village officer came to console us. He brought people to help us bury our dead children. Rameshkumar, my eldest son who got wounded in that attack and recovered eventually. But he too went missing during the final war.”

“I don’t know where he is to this date. I am living today after losing all five of my children.”