Kahawatta’s bloody killing spree

Published : 9:53 am  April 21, 2015 | No comments so far |  | 


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Homicides or murders are frequently used words by Sri Lankans today. Taking the life of another, regardless of intent or other reasons is a dire violation of human rights. According to Sinhalese myths, a person is born to this world to fulfil merits of the last birth and being born as a human is considered as a feature of the highest virtue. Despite these facts, society today has many underlying pressures such as poverty that drives them to the extremes. The series of murders in Kahawatta can be considered as an ‘event’ that has devastated the country with shock and grief. Why only females were killed and why they have been killed in such brutal ways are questions that still need to be answered. With the last event taking place just a week ago, the DailyMirror paid a visit to the village of Kotakethana to investigate  the series of unpleasant events.

The ‘Kahawatte murder’ wave

Kotakethana, a beautiful village in the heart of Rathnapura is home to many farmers and miners. With the series of killings which commenced from 2008, the villagers live in fear and uncertainty of life. The Kahawatta killings started on July 21, 2008. The first victim was 56-year-old Sellaiya Maria of the Opathawatta area in Kotakethana,  who was strangled to death. Then in the same year, somewhere around mid-November, 52-year-old U. Ariyawathie was killed in a similar manner. More women were killed in 2010 and 2011. Earlier in 2011, 52-year-old Nayana Nilmini and her daughter, Kavindya Chathurangani, were killed in what was reported as the first double murder of the area. This was followed by two more double murders, taking the number of women killed since 2008 to 14. The 15th victim was 66-year-old U. Chandrawathie who was killed in 2012.
While the underlying reasons for these killings are still unknown, many people believe  there are political influences governing these incidents. Moreover, the village is dominated by miners and those in the drug business that have raised serious concerns among the villagers. With the recent murder case of 39-year-old Chandrani Swarnalatha, people have started to lose faith in the police and the armed forces as well.

The murder of Chandrani Swarnalatha

When the  visited Kotakethana on April 9, the people were quite anxious to find the suspect of the recent murder. The murder was done in such a manner that it was quite difficult to find the suspect. The way the victim was killed, how the body was taken to the Kotakethana canal and how it was hidden under the roots of a Kottamba tree, proves that the murder was done by someone who knew every nook and corner of the village. While many suspected her family members to have been involved in this incident, the police on the other hand did not come to conclusions. When visiting the place of the incident, the  learned that the suspect had left behind many pieces of evidence which have been useful during the investigations.


Modus Operandi

Four days after the incident took place, the police were able to get hold of the culprit. Yet much to the surprise of everyone the suspect was Kushan Mahesh, who was the second son of Chandrani. During questioning he has revealed that he killed his mother since she didn’t give him money to buy a gift for his girlfriend. With a sudden surge of temper he had pushed his mother so hard that she had fallen to the ground, unconscious. Since he had felt guilty thinking that she passed away, he had grabbed a knife and  stabbed her six times. Thereafter he had taken a piece of sarong and  tied her body to stop the flow of blood and had thrown her into the canal.
Since everybody else was at a nearby funeral house, his operation was quite successful. Yet, his behaviour during Chandrani’s funeral and at the time of discovering her body had been quite suspicious. It was then that he was taken up for questioning.


The story of Siriya

Speaking to the villagers, the  learned that they all live in fear in the wake of the series of killings that took place. One lady, who spoke under the pseudonym Siriya, shared her experience with us. “Back in 2012, I was at home with my daughter. One night, we heard a noise on our roof. This continued for three days but we thought they were palm civets (uguduwas). On the third day, when we went out after sometime, a pipe which we had left on the roof fell to the ground.
Our suspicions arose and we phoned our neighbours. My daughter started to cry. Two days after this incident took place a house was set on fire just two blocks away from our house.
What happened here was that the murderers had killed the 2 sisters living in the house and burnt the house down to clear away the evidence. We have many suspects in mind, but if we reveal them they will come for us. Because of these incidents I can’t even give my daughter  in marriage. She was all set to get married but sadly we received a call yesterday from the other party saying  they have called off the marriage. This is the situation that we live in.”
Some other villagers also shared their experience about these incidents with the .
“I was in my house during the time of the recent incident. If I heard a noise I would have been the first to go and rescue her. But unfortunately I didn’t hear any screams. However, with the murder of Chandrani, fear has crept into us again. My request is that all relevant authorities should look at this problem more seriously and work towards getting hold of these suspects and finishing them off,” said Jayawardena.
Pics by NisalBaduge