Sunday, November 1, 2009

Policemen responsible for forced drowning of a youth at the Bambalapitiya beach was taken into custody

A police constable attached to the Bambalapitiya police station wanted in connection with Thursday s forced drowning of a youth at the Bambalapitiya beach was taken into custody by the Colombo Crime Division last evening after he surrendered himself to police yesterday afternoon, police said.

Police spokesman Nimal Mediwaka said the Police and Army personnel who had allegedly assaulted the 26 year old youth in the shallow sea near the Bambalapitiya Railway Station and caused him to drown on Thursday afternoon had been identified and would be arrested.

The body of Balawarnam Sivakumar of No. 19, Indrajothi Mawatha, Ratmalana was washed ashore near the Kollupitiya Railway station at around noon yesterday. His body had been identified by his elder brother Balawarnam Kadirgamanathan (32).

The entire country watched in horror, as a group of heavily built men attacked the mentally unstable youth with wooden poles while he pleaded for mercy, when it was telecast on several news bulletins on Thursday night.

Meanwhile, Colombo Crime Division (CCD) director SP Ravidra Karawita said the policemen should not have assaulted the youth in the first place.

They should have thrown him a rope and pulled him ashore without hitting him with poles, he said.

Senior DIG Mediwaka said investigations into the incident had been handed over to the CCD, keeping the Bambalapitiya Police out of the scene.

The body of Sivakumar had been taken to the Police Morgue. The postmortem was to be held last afternoon, according to Mr Karawita.

The Daily Mirror reliably learns that Police personnel seen hitting the youth in the video footage had gone missing from the Bambalapitiya Police station.

Kadirgamanathan, speaking to the Daily Mirror yesterday, said that his brother had been mentally unstable for about two years, following a love affair.

He was heartbroken after his girlfriend dumped him suddenly in the latter part of 2006. Soon after the incident he was extremely depressed and had to be treated at the Angoda Mental Hospital for about 10 days in 2007, said Kadirgamanathan.

After treatment at the hospital he seemed steady and even worked at a motor spare parts shop in Panchikawatte as he was a good mechanic. He worked there for about six months. Then he got sick once again as he had stopped taking the drugs prescribed by the doctors at the hospital. He was taken once again to Angoda and was there for six months. He was discharged in March this year and did not show any signs of mental illness until a few days before the tragedy, he said.

On October 26th he began to show signs of depression and became aggressive. He was missing from home on the 27th. Last Wednesday he took back his national ID from me and went out early in the morning. Later in the day I heard that he was with some of his friends, he said.

On the following day, at about 1.00 a.m., he had gone to the house of his former boss and attempted to start his vehicle. Then he had alerted the nearby army checkpoint. The Army personnel had released him after questioning. On Thursday Kadirgamanathan had received a call at his office and informed that his brother had created a scene at Ratmalana and was going towards Colombo and told to take him home.

That was the last time I heard about him. My uncle and friends had not been able to locate him. I learnt about his fate through Sirasa News First at 10.00 p.m., a grieving Kadirgamanathan said.

Tarith Ramesh 20, of No. 8, Ransivi Lane, Bambalapitiya, an Airline Ticketing agent, said Balawarnam was hurling stones at trains and vehicles driven along the Marine Drive from about 10.00 a.m. on Thursday. He attempted to draw the attention of the people in the vehicles by dancing on the highway and threatening to attack them with stones. When the drivers did not pay attention he threw stones at them damaging several vehicles. Then he threw stones to a moving train and hit the engine driver, wounding him. The driver had lodged a complaint with the Bambalapitiya Station Master.

Another train had come to halt when he threw stones at it and the passengers had got down. There was a confrontation with the passengers when they tried to apprehend him. The 119 was alerted and the Bambalapitiya Police were said to be on their way to the scene.

When the policemen and some army personnel arrived he jumped into the sea as was his habit. He threw stones he had collected at the people and security personnel. One army officer was injured. When they attempted to get near him he went further into the sea and threw sand at them.

By this time Balawarnam was a threat to the people and security personnel. Some passengers threw two poles which were drifting on the sea to the policemen.

Confirming Charith s narrative, Sandun Dahanayaka (19) of 39, Asoka Gardens, Bambalapitiya said the passengers who had gathered near the scene had even asked the soldiers to shoot at Balawarnam.

He was a threat to all. He warned them not get near him or he would hit them with stones and poles. Once he got injured himself after falling onto the boulders on the beach and was bleeding heavily at the time he went down, said Dahanayaka.

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