Abductions continue
Posted on February 10th, 2017

By Panduka Samarasekera Courtesy Ceylon Today

The news that the Vice-President of Telecom Manpower Welfare Association Sujeewa Mangala was abducted on the night of 28 January, and that he was missing for a few days, spread across the country like wild fire. It was the first case of disappearance during the government of good governance. No one knew of his whereabouts until 1 February, when he suddenly arrived at the Ingiriya police station. The news of the first missing person during the government of good governance ended there. Excerpts of an interview with Sujeewa Mangala:

?: Are you aware that your disappearance was the first such incident to take place during the present government of good governance?

A: No, I did not know about it. However, I am a person who committed myself day and night to bring this government into power.

?: What is your full name?

A: Mukhadange Sujeewa Mangala.

?: Your age?

A: Fifty-one.

?: Are you married?

A: Yes.

?: How many children do you have?

A: Two, a son and a daughter.

?: Are they employed?

A: My son is at Janashakthi Insurance and my daughter is still studying.

?: How many years have you worked?

A: Seventeen years.

?: Were you serving as a Manpower employee for the entire 17 years?

A: Yes. We constantly made requests to recruit us to the Telecom organization. When we could do nothing more than that, we organized a Satyagraha on 27 December.

?: Did you lead it?

A: Yes. I was the Vice-President of the Human Capital Solution Welfare Association affiliated to Telecom. A large number of employees gathered around me. Therefore, I am responsible for their welfare.

?:Is it because of this responsibility that you urged the employees to win their rights?

A:It was a collective decision that was made.

?: Didnt the Court issue an enjoining order recently against it?

A:Yes. The enjoining order was not to engage in a Satyagraha that would obstruct the road. The trade union leaders were going to the area where the Satyagraha was being held.

?: Did you follow that order?

A: As a lawful citizen I followed the order to the letter.

?: What did you do at the union office until midnight?

A: Although I did not go to the place where the Satyagraha was held, I fully supported the struggle.

?: At what time did you go home after completing your duties on 28 January?

A: At midnight.

?: What did you do until midnight?

A: I was at the union office. I completed my duties and left the office to go home.

?: What happened then?

A: Then I left on my motorcycle to go home, which is in Pelenwatte.

?: What happened after you left?

A: I rode along High Level Road and near Ratmaldeniya Road, a van that followed me, overtook my motorcycle and blocked me.

At once, the side door of the van opened and three people alighted with their faces covered with black cloths and wearing gloves.

They were carrying pistols. They pointed the pistols at me and told me to get off the bike.

?: Then what happened?

A: Two of them came forward, grabbed me and put me into the van and closed the door. A black pillow case was slipped over my head to cover my face. They tied my hands. While I was sitting on the seat, two people sat down on either side of me. There was a person in the front together with the driver. There was another person on the seat behind me. Altogether there were five people. All of them had their faces covered.

?: What did they say?

A: They did not say anything. They did not speak at all. I was not aware of where we were going as I was blindfolded. I did not say anything for fear of death.

?: How far did you go?

A: I had no idea of the distance we travelled or where we were going because my face was covered. I think we travelled for about three hours. Then they grabbed my hand and let me get off the van. I was led to an isolated house like a blind man, while holding my hand and then they untied my hands. They also removed the pillow case which covered my face.

?: Can you describe the place?

A: When I was taken there, it was still dark. It was a very lonely place. When the day dawned I found myself in a room. The door was closed. There was a window fortified with iron bars. Everything was sealed.

?: Did they assault or threaten you with death?

A: No, they didn’t do so. However, I had no place to sleep. There was a mat on the floor on one side. I lay down on it.

?: Did anyone talk to you?

A: Up to now I had not heard the voice of anyone. However, when daylight fell, the sealed door was opened and two persons came in. One person told me to give up my post and mind my own business. He also said they would not harm me. With those few words my fear of death left me. I did not attempt to talk to anyone.

?: Were you given food and drink?

A:After I was taken away on 28 January, I was given some macaroni on the following morning. I was served with meals at night and afternoon. I was provided with food on all three days.

?: Were you allowed to bathe or wash your face?

A: They did not allow me to bathe. I was wearing the same clothes for three days. Two of them took me to a shanty-like place where I could use as toilet. They also had their faces covered and were wearing gloves. They were not armed.

?: When were you taken back?

A: On 31 January night my face was covered again and I was taken out of the abandoned house and led to a vehicle. Then we travelled for about three hours and stopped at some place. My hands were untied and the door was opened. I was pushed on to an area like a precipice. As I was blindfolded I could not identify the vehicle. I heard the vehicle speeding away.

?: What was the time?

A: It must have been about 2 a.m.

?: Then what did you do?

A: I removed my head cover. Then I realized that I was near the Nambapana bridge in Ingiriya.

?: Then what happened?

A: I went to the Ingiriya police station and related the whole incident. A police officer took down all what I said. Then they informed other police stations. My wife had made a complaint to the Piliyandala police. At daybreak I was brought to the Piliyandala police station. There they asked me to make a statement. As the place where the incident took place was in the Maharagama police division I was handed over to the Maharagama police. Later they too obtained a statement from me.

?: Who do you think abducted you?

A: I have no idea. I have never been threatened by anyone.

?: Then why did they abduct you?

A: I think it was to intimidate me and get us to give up our struggle half way through.

?: So will you give up your struggle now?

A: Definitely not. Until the Manpower employees are made permanent, this struggle will go on.

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