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Confusion confounds Jaffna Campus rumpus

Confusion confounds Jaffna Campus rumpus

2012 Dec 02

Confusion confounds the developments that took place on November 27 and 28 at the Jaffna University premises, where clashes erupted between students and law enforcement officials.

Allegations are being levelled at the police and security forces for employing high handed tactics against the university students. The authorities in turn accused university students of attempting to hold ‘Maaveerar’ (Martyr’s Day) in commemoration of LTTE’s fallen members, which is illegal as it is listed as a terrorist organization and banned in the country. Subsequent to the clashes that occurred between police and students on Wednesday (28), academic activities at the university came to a standstill on Thursday (29) and Friday (30), with students refusing to attend lectures until their security was guaranteed.

Jaffna University Students’ Union Head, V. Bhavananthan said the decision to recommence academic activities continued to be in the balance as safety of students was yet to be assured.
Bhavananthan said police personnel continued to be present outside the University and hostel premises on Friday (30).

“The situation has calmed down. But, we would only return to campus if our security is ensured,” he told The Nation.
Condemning the alleged assault on the students, President of the Inter University Students’ Federation (IUSF), Sanjeewa Bandara said it was yet another example of ‘State Terrorism’ present in Jaffna. He claimed the attack left nearly 50 students injured, with eight hospitalized, adding that three were still being treated as of Friday. He also claimed four students were detained and brutally assaulted by the police before being released.

Speaking to The Nation, Bandara said the attack occurred while students were protesting against the searches carried out by the army and police who had entered the student hostels at the university the previous night (27).

“On Tuesday night, security forces personnel entered the university hostels claiming that students were planning to commemorate ‘Maaveerar’ (Martyr’s Day) there the next day. They even entered the girls’ hostel without any prior approval. The students were protesting against these actions on Wednesday when they were brutally attacked,” he claimed.
Bandara scoffed at the claim made by authorities that the searches were necessary as ‘Maaveerar’ day was being commemorated there.

“You can’t prevent Tamil people from commemorating their loved ones who were killed in the war by lighting a lamp. They will forever remain in their hearts. That’s the simple truth. In trying to violently prevent any sort of commemoration, the authorities are simply fuelling another armed uprise,” he warned.
Bandara further claimed that authorities were targeting the Jaffna University as it had become a hotbed of student activism and protests against state terrorism that was being unleashed in the North.

“Whatever authorities do, they will not be able to prevent Tamil students from commemorating the people who died during the war. We stand by their right to do so. Already, students at Peradeniya and Ruhuna Universities have held protests in solidarity with Jaffna students. We will continue our campaign against such acts of terror,” he stressed. 
When contacted, Police spokesman SSP Prishantha Jayakody claimed police were “compelled to act” as students started throwing stones and other missiles at officers who arrived on the scene.

“Police were called in as the students were blocking the main road which runs opposite the university. They then started throwing stones at the officers at which point the police acted to disperse the unruly crowd,” he said.
Commenting on the incident that occurred the night before, Jayakody claimed police went into the hostels after being invited to do so by university authorities. “We received information that some students were planning to commemorate ‘Maaveerar’ day. They can’t do that since the LTTE is a banned organization,” he said. The police spokesman vehemently denied claims that police had detained and beaten up students. “There was no such thing occurred,” he said, but added they were investigating claims that TNA MP, E. Saravanapavan had been threatened by some persons “who were in plain clothes”.

“We haven’t identified them, but we are conducting inquiries,” he said. 
Military spokesman Brigadier, Ruwan Wanigasooriya said the army was “not at all involved” in the incidents that took place on the 28. “The police requested the army be put on standby when they went into the student hostels on the night of the 27. That was our only involvement. The army had no role whatsoever in the incidents that occurred on the following day,” he added.

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