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Aralithurai massacre – 22 October 1987

Aralithurai is situated in the Valigamam West Sanganai AGA Division in Jaffna District. The Pannai Bridge in Jaffna that was the main exit route to reach the Jaffna islets was out of use during this period due to the presence of Sri Lankan military close by in the Jaffna Fort. As a result, Aralithurai was serving as the main route to reach the islets. The route was heavily used by people travelling in motorised boats to and from the islets and Jaffna mainland.
On 22 October 1987, about 300 passengers were travelling in about 15 motorised boats towards Jaffna. When the boats docked at the Aralithurai coast, the Indian forces started firing at them from helicopters. Panicked people ran to the Aralithurai Inn for safety. More than seven “rockets” were fired aiming at these people. All together 36 passengers were killed by this

attack and more than 30 were injured. Seven of the boats were destroyed. Other boats were partially damaged. The injured and the bodies of those killed were taken back to the other shore and from their transported to Urkavalthurai hospital in tractor-trailers. Among those killed were school students and government employees.
Pius Mariyathas of 9/3 4th Cross Street, Near Water Tank, Gurunagar said in his affidavit,
“I am a fisherman. On 10 October there were shells explosion in our area. These shells were fired from the Fort where the Indian forces were stationed. As a result I left home around 4.00pm with my family and took refuge at St Patricks College. Then on 12 October we sought refuge at St Mary’s church in Columbuthurai. Since shells started falling near this area too we shifted again to Chundukuli Girls College.
On 20 October a shell exploded in one of the rooms in the Chundukuli Girls College killing three people and injuring 15 others. About 70 of us arranged a bus to take us to Kayts through the Araly jetty. We arrived at the jetty around 8.00am. Some of us boarded four boats and were moving towards the Saravanai jetty when helicopters hovering over us started firing at the boats. They did this for one hour.
My daughter Mariyathas Sulogini (15) and my mother-in-law Salamipillai were killed by the helicopter fire and my wife Mariyathas Imelda (36) and my father-in-law Sebastie Xavier were seriously injured. Since we were by now close to the shore, I lifted my three other children and put them in the sea. My sons Surenthiran and Suthakar were injured while they were standing in the sea. I took my three children to the shore. Then I carried the rest of my family both dead and injured to the shore.
The dead and injured were transferred to Kayts hospital. My wife succumbed to her injuries at the hospital. Her body with 13 others killed in the incident were buried at the Kayts cemetery. Five more bodies were handed over to the families.”
Christuraja Ritamma of 10 Central west Road, Gurunagar said in her affidavit,
“On 10 October we sought refuge at Our Lady of the Rosary church at Columbuthurai. On 11 October we again fled to Columbuthurai Hindu College. Again on 14 October due to firing near where we were staying we fled to St Patricks Church. Again we were forced to flee to Chundukuli Girls College. On 20 October five people were killed in this college due to shelling. We decided to go with 70 people to Araly jetty desiring to cross toSaravanai. While we were crossing on the boat we were attacked from helicopter.
Women held up their babies to show that they are civilians but the attack continued. My daughter Kamalanayaki and my father Mudiappu Christian were killed and I sustained injury to my wrist. My two other daughters Saganayaki and Meera also received injuries in their legs.
On 22 October, those of us who were seriously injured were transferred to Moolai hospital. On 1 November, Moolai hospital came under helicopter attack and many were killed. I left the hospital and stayed with a relative.”
Available details of those killed (No., Name, Occupation, Age)
01. Jesuthasan Jeevakumar, Student, 06
02. Jesuthasan Kumuthini, Student, 09
03. Mudiappu Christian, , 70
04. Christuraja Kamalanayaki, Student, 10
05. Arokiyam, Home maker, 40
06. Mariathas Sulogini, Student, 15
07. Mariathas Imelda, Home maker, ,
08. Salampillai, ,