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Restrictions placed on journalists reporting on Kokkuthoduvai mass grave excavation raise concerns

On September 11th, as the excavation and exhumation entered its fifth day, the Kokkuthoduvai mass grave site witnessed new restrictions imposed on journalists, sparking concerns about transparency and potential cover-ups surrounding the ongoing investigation.

The excavation on the 5th day was presided over by Mullaitivu Magistrate Court Judge T. Pratheepan, Professor Raj Somadeva, and Mullaitivu Judicial Medical Officer (JMO) K. Vasudeva, alongside the police forensics team, who have been leading the excavation process.

In the preceding four days of excavation, investigators had made notable discoveries, including partial skeletal remains of two victims and complete skeletal remains of two others, in addition to the skeletal remains of 13 victims discovered initially. These findings were accompanied by uniforms associated with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and female undergarments. Particularly, the two complete skeletal remains had bullets embedded within them, while remnants suspected to be weapons were also unearthed in the mass grave.

However, at the outset of the fifth day's excavation, journalists were confronted with new restrictions imposed by the police. Under these rules, journalists were only allowed to photograph and video the site before excavation began each day and during the lunch break. At all other times, according to the Mullaitivu JMO K. Vasudeva, journalists were prohibited from approaching the site.

These unexpected regulations raised skepticism among media personnel, who questioned the motives behind such restrictions. They pointed out that these limitations cast doubt, particularly considering the authorities' reticence in providing information regarding new discoveries. Journalists stressed that the lack of transparency in reporting progress made in the mass grave excavation raised serious questions and concerns about potential cover-ups. Journalists reporting on the mass grave are the only source of information for the general public regarding the progress made during the excavation of the mass grave. 

The Kokkuthoduvai mass grave excavation continues to be closely monitored, with journalists committed to report on observable discoveries. 

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