Massive demo for Raviraj
  •  President skips funeral due tosecurity; sends floral tributes
  • A9 remains closed

By Vindya Amaranayake and Anurangi Singh
Anti-war groups and civil society organisations are to hold a mass rally to protest against the assassination of TNA parliamentarian N. Raviraj tomorrow, before the body of the slain MP is to be air-lifted to Jaffna on Tuesday (14).
The remains of MP Raviraj will be taken to the Town Hall in procession where a mass rally is planned to be held against killings and abductions.
Meanwhile, the government yesterday turned down a request made by the Tamil National Alliance to allow the body of its assassinated member Nadarajah Raviraj to be taken to Jaffna through the now closed A9 road.
However Government’s Defence Spokesman Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said that the government had instead offered to airlift the body to Jaffna for the last rites. Accordingly, the remains of MP Raviraj will be airlifted to Jaffna on Tuesday and the funeral is scheduled to take place at Chavakachcheri on Wednesday.
The request to allow the body of MP Raviraj to be taken to Jaffna through the A9 road was made to Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera by TNA parliamentary group leader R. Sampanthan, when Minister Samaraweera visited the funeral house yesterday morning.
Afterwards TNA parliamentarian Mavai Senathirajah met with President Mahinda Rajapaksa and made the request. The President responded that the military had advised him that given the security situation, it was not possible to open the A9 road.
However the President had indicated he would reconsider the decision after further discussions with the military top brass.
Highly placed government sources said that the government was keen on conducting a thorough investigation into the killing to apprehend those responsible, as other political parties were pointing the finger at them.
Sources said that the President was genuine in his efforts to carry out an impartial investigation with the help of the Scotland Yard, to prove his bona fides. The source added that whenever the government was making progress, acts of this nature were carried out by interested groups to scuttle the process. The Christmas day assassination of MP Joseph Pararajasingham too was one such incident, the source said.
According to these sources, President Mahinda Rajapaksa was keen on paying a visit to the funeral house, but this had been ruled out due to security reasons. He had however sent a condolence message and floral tributes through Minister D.E.W. Gunasekera.
In the meantime, United National Party MP Rajitha Senaratne said yesterday that the body will be taken to Town Hall in a mass procession and the city will be adorned with white banners. The body will then be taken to Jaffna in time for Wednesday’s funeral.
“We are requesting all political parties, labour unions, foreign diplomats, civil society organisations and all the peace loving people of this country to take part in the protest.”
Senarathne said Raviraj’s was a political killing and not an isolated incident. He added that the protest will focus on all the abductions, killings and political assassinations that have been taking place in the country over the last few months.
Meanwhile, the anti-war front has organised a 10,000 poster campaign that would commence tonight. On the other hand, in a mass scale publicity campaign using electronic and print media, the public will be invited to take part in the protest.
Stressing on the rapid increase of violence in the country, Senaratne added that it seemed as if the country was heading back to the 1988/89 era. “If the situation in the country prevails in this manner, all political leaders who voice protest against the war will be assassinated. We have to take firm action against this situation,” he said.
TNA Parliamentarian R Sambanthan said that he was happy that many people are committed to oppose atrocious political killings. “This is not only about Raviraj, but all the abductions and killings happening in the entire country,” he said.
Sambanthan added that people who commit these crimes do so with the utmost confidence that the arm of law will never reach them. “We have all witnessed the weapon that was brought to kill Raviraj. Colombo highways are saturated with checkpoints. Still such a weapon passed through all scrutiny,” he said.
It is the wish of the people, Sambanthan said, that it is time to come together not only by word but by deed, to make sure that the country was not heading towards anarchy, and that democracy prevails.
Western Province People’s Front Leader Mano Ganesan said business establishments in the Colombo District will be closed on Tuesday in honour of slain Raviraj.


Karuna faction denies involvement

Spokesman for the Karuna faction, the Thamil Makkal Viduthalai Pullikal, T. Thuyavan said that they do not take any responsibility for the killing of TNA MP N. Raviraj. “We have no involvement,” he told The Nation.


Vital clues found: Police

The police said yesterday that they have come across vital clues that could lead the investigators to track down the killers of MP Nadarajah Raviraj on Friday.
IGP Victor Fernando had deployed two teams from the Criminal Investigation Department to conduct investigations. Police sources said that they would be able to nab the assassins quickly from the clues they had found. The assailants had come in a three wheeler and had fled the scene after the killing on a motor bicycle.