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Jaffna Hospital massacre – October 21, 22 1987

Jaffna hospital was located at the eastern end of Jaffna city. This hospital was the main hospital for all 800,000 people living in the Jaffna peninsula as well as some surrounding cities including Kilinochcchi and Mullaithivu. Since 1970 it had been operating with many wards including an emergency ward and a surgery ward treating over 1000 out patients in a day.
Fighting had begun from October 10, 1987 between the IPKF and the LTTE and since that day the IPKF fought continuously to capture Jaffna peninsula.

The IPKF stationed in the Jaffna Fort was continuously bombarding the peninsula with artillery and aerial bombings. Despite the continuous bombings the workers, nurses, and doctors of the Jaffna Hospital continued to work to save peoples’ lives despite danger to their own lives.

On October 21, 1987 the Indian forces advanced towards Jaffna city while continuously bombarding it with artillery and aerial bombs. The patients, nurses, doctors and workers of Jaffna Hospital, seeking safe grounds, went into the X-ray ward of the hospital. At around 3.00pm in the afternoon, the Indian forces had infiltrated the city. At around 4.30 pm, the Indian forces entered the Jaffna Hospital and began shooting workers in uniform, patients, and other innocent people in the hospital. All together 21 staff on duty and 46 patients and visitors died in this massacre. However, families of victims in their affidavits claimed that 135 people were killed in total. This figure is probably based on what they heard others talk of at that time.
The bodies lay in the hospital for three days before they were cremated on the hospital rubbish heap. Every year the Jaffna Hospital holds a memorial for the 21 doctors, nurses, and workers who died while on duty and the 46 patients who also died.
Shanmugalingam Loganayagi of Murugan Veethi, Urumpirai East, Urumpirai in her affidavit said,
“My husband Vaithilingam Shanmugalingam was employed as an Ambulance driver at Jaffna General Hospital. Our house caught fire due to shelling. I fled with my children to the hospital and stayed in his hospital quarters. On 21 October, my husband remained in the Overseer’s office with my two children and I stayed in the X-ray room with my other two children. All around the hospital I heard gun fire and shell fire. The Indian forces entered the hospital premises and started to fire at everyone in sight. They then entered the X-ray room and started firing and throwing grenades. On the next day at 5.00pm, I went to the Overseer’s office and found thedead body of my husband. My two children who were with my husband had left the hospital as soon as the firing has started. My youngest child was injured and he was carried to Anaipanthy hospital by his brother.”
Thavamany Rajaratnam of Kalikovilady, Alaveddy North, Alaveddy in her affidavit said,
“My husband, Ariyakuddy Rajaratnam was admitted to Jaffna General Hospital on 18 October for a knee operation. On 23 October, I heard that the Indian forces have entered the hospital and gunned down many patients and staff. But no one dared to go to the hospital because the Indian forces were occupying the hospital. It was only on 15 November my brother-in-law went to the hospital and he was informed by the hospital authorities that my husband was one of the victims shot dead by the Indian forces.”
Pasupatheeswary Krishnaraja of Arasady Road Kondavil East, Kondavil said in her affidavit,
“My husband, children and I were living in our home in Kondavil. Following the clashes between the Indian forces and the LTTE, my husband took us to the General Hospital Jaffna where he was employed as a Supervisor. We were living in his room in this hospital from 12 October. On 21 October, the Indian forces entered the hospital and gunned down several hospital staff, patients and visitors. My husband who was on duty was also shot and killed. The Indian forces burnt the bodies of the dead including that of my husband in the hospital compound.”
Selvaraja Nageswary of 168, Kasturiar Road, Jaffna in her affidavit said,
“My husband was a Hospital overseer attached to the Government Teaching Hospital, Jaffna. On 21 October, he left home for work at 6.30am. The same day about noon my son took me to the hospital to get an insulin injection. As I entered the hospital I found the hospital staff and patients in a state of fear. Mortar fire was being directed at the hospital.
Outpatients, hospital employees and visitors were among the people advised to take shelter in the hall of the ground floor of the administration section. My husband, my son and I were among those who took refuge here. Even at 4.00pm we were all there. About the same time Indian forces in uniform came to the road side entrance of the hall and started firing at us seeking shelter there. We all lay down to the ground. I saw my husband and some others were hit by the gun fire. I receded backwards but I was hit by a grenade. I managed to crawl near my husband and found him lifeless.
The dead, wounded and others who were not injured were still there in the hall next day till about 10 or 11am. The hospital authorities then called outfor us to come out. Since I was injured, I was admitted to the hospital. The dead bodies including that of my husband were still there in the hall. My son and I identified my husband’s body on 23 October. My son later told me that the bodies were burnt en masse in the hospital rubbish heap.”

A page (A3 size) in the local paper, Saturday Review, a few weeks later carried a report about this massacre which is reproduced below. Enlarged and thus legible versions of sections of the page numbered 1-3 are also included. The remaining section not enlarged contains the list of victims that are presented in normal text like other sections in the book.

Available details of those killed (No., Name, Occupation, Age)
1. Arunaselam Sivapathasuntharam, Doctor (Hospital staff)
2. M K Ganesharatnam, Doctor (Hospital staff)
3. Kathirkaamu Parimelalakar, Doctor (Hospital staff)
4. Ramanathan Mankayarkkarasi, Nurse (Hospital staff), 31
5. Mrs Vadivelu, Nurse, (Hospital staff), 48
6. Muthiah Leelavathy, Nurse (Hospital staff), 28
7. Paramanathan, Nurse (Hospital staff),
8. Kandiah Selvarajah, Supervisor (Hospital staff), 56
9. Kanapathi Krishnarajah, Supervisor (Hospital staff), 50
10. Rajaratnam Ratnaraja, Laboratory Technician (Hospital staff), 28
11. Vaithilingam Shanmugalingam, Amb Driver (Hospital staff), 49
12. Kandiah Vetharaniam, Labourer (Hospital staff), 27
13. Kanthan Markandu, Labourer (Hospital staff), 39
14. Kurusumuthu John Peter, Labourer (Hospital staff), 24
15. Kanapathi Sivaloganathan, Labourer (Hospital staff), 23
16. Ramalingam Sukumar, Labourer (Hospital staff), 24
17. Muthukumaru Thurairajah, Labourer (Hospital staff), 26
18. Ponnambalam Varatharajan, Labourer (Hospital staff), 28
19. Gopalapillai Uruthiran, Labourer (Hospital staff), 24
20. Sinnappu Jeyanathan, Labourer (Hospital staff), 36
21. Thangavelu Soundararajah, Student, 6
22. Peliseeyan Satheesyogenthiran, Student, 15
23. Markandu Thiyagarasa, Driver, 48
24. Antonymuthu Antony, Manager, 35
25. Appaiyah Manikkam, Housewife, 79
26. Ariyakuddy Rajaratnam, Driver, 53
27. Ariyaratnam Lilynesam, Housewife, 75
28. Alfred Antonypillai, , 65
29. Alfred Mary Josephine, , 37
30. Jepamani Keethaponkalan, Housewife, 43
31. John Sinnayah, Worker, 65
32. John Simiyon, Carpenter, 67
33. Thomas Perinpanayakam Pastiampillai, Manager, 66
34. Sebastian Thambirajah, MPCS Worker, 55
35. Selliah Thangamani, , 58
36. Sellar Sivapuram, ,

37. Vellupillai Saravanamuthu, , 60
38. Gnanapragasam Senthoormurugan, Business, 40
30. Subramaniam Jeyamohan, Business, 32
40. Sathiyaseelan Jeyaseelan, Student, 17
41. Sinnathambi Velupillai, , 75
42. Sinnavi Sinnathurai, , 57
43. Sivalai Kunaratnam, Postal Worker, 49
44. Soodamani Aavodaiyamma, Housewife, 55
45. Rajadurai Maheswari, Housewife, 46
46. Iraippu Soosaipillai, Retiree, 74
47. Ramasamy Ilangeswaran, Worker, 25
48. Irasu Subramaniam, Cook, 46
49. Nadarajah Jeyaseelan, Harbour Worker, 21
50. Kandiah Navaratnam, Security Guard, 50
51. Kandaih Sivaraja, General Labour, 25
52. Kirubakaran Indrani, Housewife, 32
53. Pastiampillai John Ariamalar, Housewife, 60
54. Pastiampillai Noila Vijaynthi, , 20
55. Thuraisamy Rajendra, Retiree, 70
56. Thuraisamy Mahendra, Banker, 73
57. Thuraisamy Arumugam, , 72
58. Thambipillai Kanagalingam, Technology Assistant, 64
59. Thambipillai Kirubakaran, Worker, 33
60. Thiyagarasa Mathiyarasan, Student, 17
Available details of those injured: (No., Name, Occupation, Age)
01. Julius Pradeepan, , 6 months
02. N. Annam, Senior, , 90
03. N. Navarathinam, Worker, 54
04. N. Selliah, Worker, 21
05. Nadarasah Thanabalasingam, Store, 20
06. Navartnam Sunthirakumar, Worker, 18
07. P. Visuvanathan, , 34
08. Pathmanathan Thanapakiyaluxmi, Housewife, 43
09. Patkunarajah Kamala, Student, 25
10. T. Rasenthiran, Worker, 44
11. M. Annaluxmi, Housewife, 75
12. A. Shanmugarasa, Business, 36

13. A. Kandasamy, Cleaner, 36
14. K. Balaiah, Electrician, 44
15. S. Pathmanathan, Office Worker, 46
16. S. Thavarajan, , 22
17. Sinnappodi Theivanai, Housewife, 65
18. V. Mathijeevan, Driver, 23
19. Rajaratnam Jenarthanan, Student, 20