SRI LANKA: A reputed Interior Decorator is severely tortured by officers of Matugama Police at the instigation of a lawyer and her husband 

Mr. MMD Aruna Nilupul Indika (39) of Welipenna, Kalutara District, was illegally arrested and severely tortured. Chili was applied onto his eyes and genitals. On 27 May 2013, he was arrested and tortured on the instruction of the lawyer Anoma Siriweera and her husband. The lawyer’s family had lost some items and suspected Nilupul Indika, who had done some interior decoration work at their house sometime earlier. Raveendra Pushapakumara and another officer from the Matugama Police arrived at Nilupul Indika’s residence at 3:30 pm on 27th May. They asked Nilupul to accompany them to the police station without giving any reason. He was kept at the police station until the following day and, at around 1pm, he was taken to the officers’ quarters behind the station, where he was forced down onto the floor. At that time there were three officers present, including Raveendra Pushapakumara. The officers then shouted at him, saying that he, Nilupal, should admit selling a stolen electrical grinder, or that otherwise the police would beat him so badly that he could never work again. Nilupul Indika refused, stating that he has not committed any crime. Then one of the officers put kocchi chillies (very potent) in a sock, crushed the chillies, added water and then poured the dripping chili into Nilupul’s eyes. While he was struggling in pain, the officers held him down. Later, the officers also used the chilies on his genitals and anus. He was tortured for several hours.

At 6 am on the following day, an Irishman named Mr. Helhill visited him at his cell and, having learned about the circumstances, intervened with the Office-in-Charge of the police station. The Irishman also told the police that he will remain in the police station with Nilupul Indika until he is released. Mr. Helhill told the police officers that Nilupul Indika was his best friend.

The Superintendent of Police for the area arrived at the police station for a visit and Mr. Helhill spoke to the Superintendent and sought the release of Mr. Nilupul Indika. The SP instructed the OIC to take at statement and then release Nilupul Indika immediately.

The Attorney-at-Law Anoma Siriweera visited the police station with her husband after Nilupul Indika was tortured and stated that he had not been tortured enough. The police officer Pushpakumara told the lawyer that a fabricated charge of possessing a bomb would be made against Nilupul Indika.

After his release, Nilupul Indika has made official complaints to all the relevant authorities about his illegal arrest, torture and illegal detention. See the full story below.

Mr. Madawala Maddumage Don Aruna Nilupul Indika (39), of Mahagedara, Devala Road, Welipenna in the Kalutara District is married and a father of one child. He is an interior designer by profession. He lives near Anoma Siriweera, Attorney-at-law, and her family. On 6 May 2013 at 9 am, the husband of Anoma Siriweera came to Nilupul and told him that their house had been burgled and that he suspected Nilupul of having done it. Nilupul denied the accusation and told the man that he had never committed any crime. Nilupul said that he had entered the house in question only for a painting job, for which he had been well paid. The husband of the Ms. Anoma was extremely angry and said the he would, “Take care of it later”.

On 27 May at 3:30 pm, while Nilupul was working on his vegetable farm, he heard someone calling his name. He saw two police officers and Ms. Anoma’s husband waiting for him. Nilupul had been using a machete (mannaya) and the police officer instructed him to put it down and come to them. When he approached them, they handcuffed his hands behind his back without explanation and ordered him to accompany them. Nilupul asked the officers to allow him to return the machete to his home and have a shower as he was dirty from his work but the officers refused. One of them took the machete to his house. While they were walking Nilupul saw that there was police jeep parked about 100 metres away. They placed him in the jeep along with Ms. Anoma’s husband and started driving in the direction of the Matugama Police Station. As Nipulu’s hands were cramped by the cuffs he asked the officers to loosen them and cuff his hands in front of him but they ignored him. At the station he was placed in a cell.

Later, Nilupul was able to identify one of the officers as Raveendra Pushapakumara, attached to the Crime Branch of the Matugama Police. While Nilupul was inside the cell, a police officer in civilian clothing spoke to him several times and warned him, accusing him of not telling the truth. Nilupul was in fear of being subjected to torture.

At around 8 pm his wife and child visited him at the station and provided him with some food. At 1 pm on the following day Nilupul was taken out of the cell and handcuffed by an officer. The officer then grabbed him roughly by the neck and took him to a room in the officer’s quarters, which were behind the station. He was then forced into a sitting position on the floor of the living room. There were three officers present at the time, including Raveendra Pushapakumara, who was now in uniform. The other two officers were in civilian dress. Pushapakumara then shouted at Nilupul and told him that he had to admit to selling an stolen electric grinder; otherwise they would beat him so badly that he would never be able to work again. However, Nilupul denied the accusation and said that he had never engaged in any illegal act.

At that time Nilupul noticed that one of the officers was holding a bag of kochchi chilies (a small but very strong chili). Pushapakumara placed the chilies in a disused sock and used a piece of hosepipe to crush them before adding some water to make a chili juice. Another officer made Nilupul lie on the floor facing upwards. He then tore off his sarong and pulled off his underpants. They held him down and Pushapakumara squeezed the sock so that the chili juice ran into Nilupul ‘s eyes. When he tried to close his eyes to prevent the chili juice running into them the officers forced his eyelids apart. Nilupul suffered enormous pain due to this treatment and felt that he was losing the vision in his eyes. He started struggling violently but they held him down. They then placed a couple of chairs over him to prevent him from moving. The officers sat on the chairs to ensure that Nilupul could not push them away. Then Pushapakumara again began to drip the chili juice into his eyes. The officer then urged Nilupul to admit to the crime of theft but, despite the torment, Nilupul refused.

Pushapakumara then said to his associates, “This method is not working”. He then grabbed Nilupul ‘s penis, pushed back his foreskin and dripped some of the chili juice over his penis. Some of the juice ran down between his legs and he felt a burning sensation in his anus. Nilupul felt that his anus was prolapsed and asked the officers to allow him to urinate. They brought him to a toilet at the rear of the compound but he was unable to pass anything due to the pain. When he told the officers one of them grabbed his wrists and forced them up over his back, which caused one of his shoulders to dislocate. He was then taken back to the room in which he had been tortured.

Once again he was held down in the same fashion and Pushapakumara dripped the chili juice into his eyes. Pushapakumara stopped the torture when he received a telephone call on his mobile and went outside to answer it. One of the officers then brought a pole with which he beat the soles of Nilupul’s feet. However, Pushapakumara suddenly returned and told them not to stop using the pole and started dripping the chili juice into Nilupul ‘s eyes while the other officers held him down. This treatment ceased again when Pushapakumara received another phone call. He told the other officers that a pickpocket had been arrested at a bus stop and they had to attend to the scene.

Nipulu was left there for an hour until the three officers returned. The torture with the chili juice resumed. After some time Pushapakumara ordered the other officers to take Nilupul to the kitchen, where one of them washed his eyes and combed his hair. He was dressed again in his underpants and sarong, after which Nilupul was taken back to the police compound, where he saw that his father was waiting for him. When his father saw the state that Nilupul was in, he started screaming. By this time it was around 5:30 pm. Nilupul had been tortured for four and a half hours.

At 6 pm he was taken out of the cell again, his wrists were cuffed and he was brought to the Crime Branch of the station, where he saw that Ms. Anoma and her husband were waiting. In front of these people Pushapakumara threatened Nilupul that he would be subjected to further torture. It was then that Ms. Anoma Siriweera, Attorney-at-Law, told Pushapakumara that the torture they had used was not enough for a man like this. In response Pushapakumara told Ms. Anoma that he would fabricate a charge of the possession of a bomb against Nilupul. Nilupul was then returned to the cell, where he remained all night. As his eyes started running with mucus he had to continuously wash them with bottled water, which the police provided.

The following morning at 6 am, Mr. Helhill, an Irishman, visited Nilupul. Mr. Helhill asked Nilupul what had happened and, following this, spoke to the Officer-in-Charge (OIC). He told the officer that if he did not release Nilupul he would personally remain in the cell with him. Pushapakumara demanded to know what Mr. Helhill was doing there. Mr. Helhill pointed to Nilupul saying that he was his best friend and in turn asked Pushapakumara what his problem was.

Shortly after this, the area Superintendent of Police (SP) arrived. Mr. Helhill immediately approached the SP and told him what had happened to Nilupul. After hearing Mr. Helhill’s explanation the SP went to the OIC and instructed him to take a statement from Nilupul and release him immediately. The OIC agreed that Nilupul would be released by 3:30 pm.

Another officer asked Nilupul for his name, address and occupation. Sometime later he returned with a pre-written statement, which he asked Nilupul to sign. Nilupul duly signed the statement out of fear of further torture.

The officers informed Nilupul that he would leave but that he had to return to on 1 June and, if possible, provide information on a Mr. Priyantha, who was suspected of the crime for which Nilupul had been arrested.

The police did not return the mobile phone and two sim cards they had taken from Nilupul. Prior to his release, Pushapakumara approached Nilupul and threatened him not to go to a hospital for any treatment and only take Auryvedic medicine. He further warned him that they should not hear that he had made any complaints to higher authorities. He then took Nilupul to the OIC of the station, who requested him to help them to find Priyantha. The OIC told Nilupul that if he failed to help them, then most of the crimes for which they wanted Priyantha would be placed on his head.

On 1 June Nilupul made a complaint to the SP regarding the violation of his rights. After listening to Nilupul’s account, the SP advised him that there was no need for him to go to the police station.

Nilupul states that the officers of the Matugama Police Station illegally arrested, detained and tortured him to fulfill the whims of Anoma Siriweera, Attorney-at-Law, and her husband. He has made a complaint to the Inspector General of Police, the Senior Superintendent of Police, Kalutera and the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka. None of these authorities have initiated any inquiries into this case.

Nilupul seeks justice.

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AHRC-STM-104-2013
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Issues : Impunity, Institutional reform, Police negligence, Police violence, Rule of law,