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'He was shot in the head' - Sri Lankan security forces murder Tamil man in Batticaloa

Scene of shooting - MP Sathasivam Vivalendiran House

A Tamil man has been shot in the head by security forces outside of the Sri Lankan Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) MP Sathasivam Viyalendiran's house in Batticaloa earlier today.

The incident was reported to have taken place at 5:30 pm. The victim has been identified as Mahalingam Balasundaram (34), a tipper truck driver who is said to have lived on Urani Merasa Road, Batticaloa. According to local journalists, Balasundaram was travelling in a three-wheeled rickshaw, when a confrontation arose with the ministerial security guard. The verbal confrontation escalated into a scuffle and the security guard is said to have shot Balsundaram in the head. Whilst on his way to the hospital, he succumbed to his injuries and passed away.

Sri Lankan police in Batticaloa who are said to be actively investigating the incident claimed that two men travelling in a rickshaw had allegedly tried to enter the compound of Viyalendiran's house, though it remains unclear if the parliamentarian was in the house at the time. They have reportedly claimed that this resulted in the security forces opening fire. Sri Lankan security forces have been brought into the already heavily militarised area following the incident, whilst the security guard involved in the incident is currently in police custody. 

Viyalendiran was sworn in as the State Minister of Backward Rural Areas Development and Promotion of Domestic Animal Husbandry and Minor Economic Crop Cultivation by Gotabaya Rajapaksa last year. He had previously been a member of PLOTE (People’s Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam) and contested in the 2015 election as one of the Tamil National Alliance candidates in the Batticaloa district before defecting to the Rajapaksa-Sirisena government in 2018. Following his defection protests were staged by his Tamil constituents. 

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