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IPKF massacre at Jaffna Hospital commemorated

The 32nd anniversary of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) massacre was marked at the Jaffna Hospital, with staff and family members holding a commemorative ceremony this week.

At least 68 civilians, including 21 medical personnel, were killed by Indian troops as they stormed the hospital building, throwing grenades and firing indiscriminately at staff and patients. The building had been shelled by artillery before the raid.

The following morning, staff who tried to surrender were fired upon before further IPKF soldiers stormed the building and ordered ten members of staff out of the building. The bodies of all ten were found later the same day.

Among the 21 doctors, nurses and hospital staff who were massacred were three then leading medical specialists, Dr.A.Sivapathasuntharam, Dr.K. Parimelalahar and Dr.K. Ganesharatnan.

A former hospital employee told the BBC his account of the atrocity.

"I could hear gunfire and staff shouting as they were being shot dead,” he said. “I saw the men. They were Sikhs, wearing turbans and Indian army uniforms."

In 2017, retired Indian Major General Sheonan Singh who served with the IPKF in Jaffna visited the site of the massacre. There he told the BBC,

"I was unaware of this incident. It seems information about it got suppressed and people (further up in the chain of command) didn't know of it... It is unfortunate but wherever military operations occur, these things happen."