Thursday, May 10, 2018

Sri Lankan train attendant accused of harassment arrested after social media pressure, released on bail

09May 2018
A Sri Lankan train attendant who harassed a Tamil woman and racially abused Tamil passengers was arrested yesterday by Jaffna police after videos of the incident went viral on social media, provoking pressure from a Minister and senior government employees. He was released on bail early this afternoon.
The attendant had sexually harassed a Tamil woman passenger and racially abused and attempted to physically attack male Tamil passengers who intervened on the Mount Lavinia to Chunnakam train on Monday.
Parts of the attendant’s harassment and racist tirade had been filmed and published on social media by Jaffna journalist, Uthayarasa Shalin who was a passenger on the train at the time.
Mr Shalin said that himself and the victim had been called to Jaffna police to file a complaint around midday on Tuesday, but waited over five hours - with the victim having to disrupt travel plans - before being able to make the complaint and record a witness statement.
The victim, a Tamil woman from the diaspora, had to recount her statement twice to different officers before it was written down by a Tamil speaking female officer. She was also told that prosecution was unlikely unless she flew back to Sri Lanka to be repeat her statement in court.
Although the officers at the Women and Children branch of Jaffna police cited the lack of Tamil-speaking female officers for the delay, Mr Shalin said he felt that police officers ignored their complaints about time-wasting until there was higher level intervention, including from Mano Ganesan, the Minister of National Co-Existence, Dialogue & Official Languages.
The attendant has had three complaints filed against him previously in Colombo, but the police has only now been forced to act against him because his actions have gone viral on social media, Mr Shalin said.
He was arrested around 5pm on Tuesday evening but was released on bail on Wednesday by Jaffna Magistrate Judge Sinnathurai Satheeskaran, as Jaffna police had filed no objections to granting bail.