Outrage in Sri Lanka over teenager's rape and murder

Police fire teargas to disperse demonstrators protesting against the murder of Vidya Sivayoganathan (May 2015)
Image caption The murder of Vidya Sivayoganathan has led to numerous protests in the north of Sri Lanka

There have been protests across northern Sri Lanka by crowds angry at the rape and murder a week ago of an 18-year-old schoolgirl, Vidya Sivayoganathan.

In the main city, Jaffna, all businesses and schools shut down.

A policeman was injured and tear gas fired after a court was attacked as some protests turned violent.

Police have arrested nine suspects in the killing, but are still being blamed for failing to save the victim.

Local people allege that Vidya, a student from Punguduthivu island near Jaffna city, was gang-raped before she was murdered.

Image caption The demonstrations against the killings have turned violent over the last few days
Image copyright Ponniah Manikavasagam
Image caption Hundreds of schoolchildren are among those protesting against the murder

School students protested in Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu, Mannar and Vavuniya districts.

Demonstrators want the immediate punishment of the arrested suspects, who also come from Punguduthivu.

Some have taken matters into their own hands.

Three of the suspects' houses in Punguduthivu had been attacked and burnt down by angry villagers.

The BBC's Ponniah Manikavasagam in northern Sri Lanka

Increasingly, people in northern Sri Lanka feel that criminals are gaining the upper hand and playing havoc as a result.

There are a lot of rapes and murders.

Impunity was on the rise under the previous government and has paved the way for crimes within the community.

Local people feel that police have failed to take some crimes seriously enough at first.

Nine people have now been arrested for the latest incident, but local people say that justice has yet to be properly implemented.

This is the biggest shutdown in the north since 2000.

Since the change of government in January, people now have the freedom to protest.

Their tactic of drawing-down shutters is something that could not have been done under the government of Mahinda Rajapaksa.

But demonstrations are different from those of the past which were politically motivated and sometimes involved Tamil Tiger rebels who controlled the area.

Now it is the people, not political figures, who are demanding justice.

Another relative of an arrested suspect was attacked with sharp implements and admitted to Jaffna hospital.

Five suspects were also attacked on Monday by angry rickshaw drivers near Jaffna hospital when the police brought them there for medical examination prior to their detention.

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