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News  


 

Uthayan News Editor in critical condition

By Dinidu de Alwis
Gnanasundaram Kuganathan, News Editor of Jaffna-based Tamil-language Uthayan newspaper, remains in critical condition after being severely assaulted by unknown persons on Friday evening.
Kuganathan was undergoing treatment in the Intensive Care Unit of the Jaffna Hospital, and was breathing with the assistance of life support machines, hospital sources said.
Kuganathan was attacked near the Manohara theatre in Jaffna, on his way home for dinner during work, by two persons with iron bars who were reportedly waiting in ambush.
Witnesses were quoted as saying that “thugs waiting at the spot around 30 minutes had come behind Kuganathan stealthily and struck him on the head first, and then kept on hitting”.
Kuganathan reportedly managed to crawl to his house after the attackers fled the area, and staff of Uthayan newspaper later rushed him to the Jaffna Teaching Hospital.
Reports said that bystanders who were witness to the incident refused to intervene during the attack while it has been alleged the attackers were connected to a political party from the Northern peninsula.
Another staffer of Uthayan, S. Kavitharan, was attacked less than two months ago, and two died when five men opened fire at the Uthayan offices in Jaffna in 2006.

Witnesses say that the attackers were looking for Kuhanathan by name during the 2006 shooting incident, and his life was constantly under threat.
Media reports indicated that security was provided to the premises of the Uthayan newspaper following the attack, but Uthayan staffers refuted these claims.
Uthayan officials said that repeated requests to regional police heads, including Deputy Inspector General C. D. Wickremaratne, for security over the past few weeks were met with a negative response citing inadequate personnel.
Wickremaratne refused to comment on the issue, and directed The Nation to Police Spokesperson SSP Prishantha Jayakody.
Jayakody said that he was unaware of a request for security ever being made or the response by Jaffna DIG, but added that a special team of investigators have been assigned to look into the assault.
“We are extremely concerned for Gnanasundaram Kuhanathan and hope for his speedy recovery,” said Robert Mahoney, Deputy Director of the Committee to Protect Journalists. “For too long Sri Lankan authorities have been indifferent about the targeted attacks, killings and disappearances endured by journalists. That must end.”
Sri Lanka’s record of media freedom over the past few years have come under heavy criticism, with the murder of Lasantha Wickremtunge, editor of the Sunday Leader in 2009 yet unsolved.