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Sanjeevan Selladurai

My name is Sanjeevan. In year 1983, I was 11 years old. All my siblings were studying in Sinhala medium except one of my brothers who was studying in Tamil medium. We lived in Wattala Hunupitiya. In my family, there are nine of us including my parents. At this time, my father was working abroad.

I was returning home from grade 5 scholarship exam on 1983 July 23rd. The day was horrible. Everywhere it looked clouded with smoke. I rushed to home around 12:30 p.m. and found everyone looking tense. Around 3:00 P.M, a mob of 50 people came to my home and start beating my brothers. My mother tried getting in front of them to protect them but still two of my elder brothers were beaten with wooden sticks. All the neighbors simply looked on and enjoyed the scene. Only one person named Kakka who was Sinhalese, came forward and talked for us. He asked the thugs to leave the place immediately.

I think we are all alive today because of that single person. Later, we were taken to his house and we were there for 3 days. Then, we decided to move to a refugee camp set up within the St. Lucia Church in Kotehena and then we went to Jaffna by a cargo ship called Lanka Kalyani. It took 3 days to reach KKS and we all were starving inside the ship without any food or water.

On the day of the riots, I saw so many people killed in Wattala Hunupitiya. The thug group was run by a person called Kasla and he was supported by a Parliament Minister Cyril Matthew.

I feel happy to say that today only two of those thugs are alive and others all were killed by various incidents. Kasla, the group leader was shot by LTTE in Hunupitiya 5 years back and most of his group members were killed during President Premadasa's regime.

After these riots, our lives completely changed. My two brothers and I continued our studies in Jaffna. We lost every single thing in that riots except the clothes we were wearing.

My mom alone with 7 children went through so many terrible problems after riots. In my family no one will forget this horrible racial and cruel incident.





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