‘Still Don’t Know If Mom, Brother Survived Attack’

execution_clipMADURAI:Even six years after the Mullivaikkal massacre, I still cannot come out of the shock of losing my entire family,” says emotional S Suresh, a Sri Lankan refugee living in the State.

The massacre witnessed the alleged killings of thousands of Tamils. Only a small number of people could escape during the war from Sri Lanka to India because the army had already blocked the escape routes.

“When the war intensified in 2009, me and mother, father, sister, and two brothers went to stay at a nearby school at our native place near Mullivaikal after LTTE informed us that the UN rescue team would reach the school and save us,” recalls Suresh.

“About 1,000 people along with us took shelter hoping that there would not be an attack on the school building. But in the wee hours, the Lankan airforce dropped bombs on the building, in which at least 300 people died, including my father and sister. We could not even perform the final rites,” rues Suresh. “After that, we had to start running to save ourselves but we were captured by the Lankan army later. They took me along with a group in a tractor and then we were asked to run to save ourselves by running across a pond. When we were running, they started firing. Only few like me escaped from the attack,” recalls the 37-year-old, adding that young Tamil women faced sexual abuse.

“I later knew that my elder brother was shot dead but till now I do not have a clue about my mother, who was ill,  and my younger brother. I was caught by the army again and had to stay in a camp, from where I escaped to reach the coastal line at Talaimannar. Then I had to pledge my gold chain to get a seat in the boat headed to India”, he narrates. “The horror did not stop there because our boat sank midway and only seven of us survived for two days on a islet. Indian fishermen from Tamil Nadu spotted us and took us to Dhanushkodi”, he says.

A 35-year-old refugee, who came to India in 2010, says she was from Vavuniya. She came to India to marry another Lankan Tamil, who reached here in 2008. “Our parents had already fixed our marriage. But my husband had to come here, as the Lankan army thought he was connected to LTTE and was torturing him,” she says.

In Vavuniya, the army had destroyed almost all the houses and the residents had to stay in schools and temples to protect themselves.  “My elder brother was one of those who were taken away by the army, he could not even walk properly as he was affected both mentally and physically,” says the woman.

Suresh, who works as painter, adds that as a Tamil, one cannot live on the island nation mainly because of life threats still present.