Tuesday, December 2, 2008


‘Wrong place at the wrong time’

Tragical death of Lankan student in Malaysia

By Jamila Najmuddin

“Today my son would have been alive if I had not fulfilled his wish,” are the only words which keep reverberating in the house of A. Sriskandarajah.

The corridor leading up to his apartment in Wellawatte is decorated with white flags. The usual laughter which occupied this small house, is now gone as people sit in the doorway with tears pouring down their cheeks.

Unable to accept the series of events which had haunted this loving home, Sriskandarajah’s remaining two siblings keep starring at the front door, hoping that their 22-year-old brother would soon walk in with his usual smile on his face.

However, they are well aware their hope would remain just that, as their beloved brother whom they used to joke with and share their thoughts with is no more.

Twenty-two-year-old Sarankan Sriskandarajah’s story has already hit the headlines.

Leaving the country, to pursue his studies in Malaysia, Sarankan was tragically killed by a group of men on November 26 at a tea boutique, a little distance away from his university.

The killing which has sent shockwaves throughout the student population in Malaysia, was even more tragic, as Sarankan was believed to be a victim of mistaken identity and was killed a day after his mother’s birthday.

According to eye witnesses, a group of ten men, in two cars had pulled up in front of the boutique and started attacking three students, one of them which included Sarankan. They had hacked and slashed the victims and had tried to slit their throats.Sarankan had, in an attempt to save himself, protected his chest and head with his hands, which is why, according to family members, he had received serious cut injuries on both hands.

He had also received serious cut injuries on his heels as he had tried to kick the knife away.

After attacking the students for almost two minutes, eye witnesses said the assailants had left the premises without saying a word.

Sarankan’s friends who were also present at the scene at that time, had rushed him and the other two to hospital. Sarankan had immediately undergone surgery and was said to be ‘out of danger’.

“My wife received a telephone call on November 27, from Sarankan’s friend, stating he had been attacked but was safe. They assured us that everything was normal and he was receiving treatment in hospital.

For two days later I did not eat as I was much worried. Sarankan’s guardian who was also a doctor in Malaysia, also assured me that my son was OK and was receiving the necessary treatment,” Sriskandarajah said.

Sarankan’s guardian who had rushed to the hospital upon hearing the incident from his friends, had immediately transferred Sarankan to a private hospital after his operation.

Despite receiving the necessary treatment, Sarankan had been suffering from a high temperature and short breath.

Sarankan’s father, back in Colombo, had started preparing to send his wife to Malaysia to look after their son. After completing the visa procedures, Sriskandarajah had booked a ticket for his wife on December 1.

Meanwhile, Sarankan’s guardian had informed Sriskandarajah that he would make their son talk to them over the telephone to assure them that everything was normal.

On November 28, Sarankan, had in a faint voice spoken to his parents and kids and told that he was in immense pain. He had also started crying saying his leg and hands had been badly hurt.

“I told my son over the telephone that everything would be ok. I also told him to pray to God. I told him that once he recovers, I would take care of all the financial difficulties for him. I just wanted to encourage him to battle on and recover fast,” Srikandarajah said. Same day, Sriskandarajah had received a telephone call that his wife was able to leave for Malaysia that day as a seat was available on the flight.

Sriskandarajah and his wife had immediately packed all her belongings and dropped her at the airport late at night.

When Sriskandarajah had returned home, on early Saturday morning, he received the telephone call, which he said he would never forget. It was the Malaysian hospital authorities informing him that his son had passed away.

When Sriskandarajah received the dreaded news, his wife was on a flight to Malaysia, unaware that her son, who everyone assured saying that he was recovering, had actually died.

Sriskandarajah’s wife heard the news upon reaching the hospital and was still in Malaysia. She would return home, with the body of her son, later this week. “I have been crying ever since the day I heard the news. My son had high hopes of excelling as an engineer after which he had told me he would return to the country and look after us. Just a few months before he died, he had also informed my wife, to tell me not to be so emotionally attatched to him. He was my son, how could I distance away from him,” a grieving Sriskandarajah said.

Ever since the day Sarankan’s parents had heard of their son’s wish to pursue his studies abroad, they were unhappy to part with their son, fearing of sending him to an overseas land.

“He was so adamant that he wanted to study in Britain. He did not want to take NO as an answer. He was a very bright boy which was why I wanted him to pursue his career,” Sriskandarajah said.

Sarankan who achieved seven A’s in his GCE O/Level examination and three A’s in his GCE A/Level examination, had gained entry into the Moratuwa University Engineering Faculty in the year 2005.

He attended the University for six months but had kept voicing his wish to his parents, of pursuing his studies in Britain. “The six months that he attended the Moratuwa University, I knew that my son was sad. He came home everyday with a frown. As a father I could not see him this way which was why I fulfilled his wish by sending him abroad,” Sriskandarajah said.

Unable to afford to send him to a university in Britain, Sriskandarajah had offered to send his son to Malaysia as his wife’s relatives were in that country.

Gaining admission in the University of Nottingham, a British university with an affiliate in Malaysia, Sarankan left for Malaysia in September 2006.

After gaining the necessary marks, Sarankan left for the UK in 2008 on a scholarship to complete his second year in Engineering. He had returned to Malaysia to complete his finals just two months ago.

“I looked after him in the best way I could. I loved him dearly and will continue to love him. Although I have lost him, I have forgiven the perpetrators who killed my son. I knew it was a mistake. He only seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Sriskandarajah said.

As he now awaits the body of his beloved son to return home, Sriskandarajah said he also did not want to continue with an inquiry into the death of his son as all he wanted now was to protect his other two kids in the best manner possible.

While Sarankan is no more, he would continue to live in the hearts of all, especially his parents, who silently wished that someday their son would walk in through the front door and return home.

Campus cooperates with the investigation

Following the killing of Sarankan, security has been tightened at the Nottingham University campus in Malaysia as a precaution, and police beefed up in the area.
A day of mourning was held at the Malaysian campus on Monday in honour of the Electrical and Electronic Engineering student.
On Friday, December 5, all lectures and other academic activities would be cancelled for a day of commemoration.
Professor Ian Pashby, Vice-President and Chief Executive of the University of Nottingham, Malaysia, said, “we are all deeply saddened by the tragic death of Sarankan Sriskandarajah. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this very difficult time.
“The serious and tragic nature of the incident has shocked the whole university community, because we have not experienced anything of this sort in the past. The university has taken several immediate steps to address the current situation,” he said.
Campus security has been tightened as a precaution. Dialogue has taken place with the police to intensify their visible presence in the area, and of course the university is cooperating fully with the police investigation,” Prof. Pashby said.

Foreign Ministry helps to release the body

The Foreign Ministry in a statement yesterday said the Sri Lankan High Commission in Malaysia was assisting the family of the dead student to secure the release of the body, after the post mortem examination was performed on Monday.
The Ministry also said it was understood that the target of the assailants was a group of middle aged Malaysian men of South Indian origin. The armed gang had mistaken the Sri Lankan students as acquaintances of their target and launched the brutal attack on them.
The High Commission officials have visited the hospital and spoken with the President of the Sri Lankan Students Union at the university. They were also due to meet with the Director of the University to discuss the security concerns of the Sri Lankan students, the press statement said.


siewkwan said...

I'm really sadden by his death, reading your post makes it more realistic than it has actually been to all of us. Rest in peace, my brother from another country.

Shan Nalliah / GANDHIYIST said...

Thanks!siewkwan for your kind and caring words!