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
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
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
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
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.