THE decapitated head of Rajaratnam Rajeswaran, 23, was found in Jaffna town on 23 February. Mr Rajeswaran had gone missing two days earlier. After his body was recovered from a toilet in Nelliady on 27 February, angry crowds smashed the office of Tamil group PLOTE in the area. Reports say that the Point Pedro magistrate has ordered the arrest of a PLOTE leader. PLOTE has denied any involvement in the murder. People fear that the death squad Mandayan group which operated in Jaffna during the time of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in the 1989-1990 period has resurfaced. There is increasing concern over detention of civilians by Tamil groups fighting the LTTE on the side of the security forces. In mid-February, the Army in Jaffna ordered the Tamil groups not to carry out any arrests. Civilians are regularly detained in the east by PLOTE, TELO and the Razik Group.
Amnesty International says four of the seven people taken into custody by PLOTE in Vavuniya between October and December last year are unaccounted for. According to Amnesty, PLOTE cadre abducted S Ashokumar on 24 January and took away A Pakkiri and two other men on 7 February. They are believed to be held at PLOTE’s Lucky House illegal detention centre in Vavuniya, although the militant group has denied detention.
The US State Department says that pro-government militias detain persons at various locations that serve as undeclared detention centres. The Sri Lankan Human Rights Commission has no authority to enforce respect for human rights among militia groups. The State Department also says that the militias operate in secrecy and the government has taken no clear steps to stop their actions.
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