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Sandya Ekanyake rape, murder

The date was the August 23; time, around 12 in the afternoon. The sun had decided to bid farewell to the eastern sky and move towards the west. But she did not know that she was living the last few hours of her life. She had passed her O/L exams and had embarked on studying for her A/L exams with all the hopes of entering university, but her dreams were dashed while still being made. This is the story of the tragic death of 17-year-old student; Ekanayaka Mudiyanselage Sandya Madushani Ekanyake, a resident of Giribawa East, No. 2, Sudarmarama Mawatha, Saliya Ashokapura.

Having studied her books for many hours, she had decided to take a small break in front of the television. Perhaps the sound of the television muffled the entrance of the man into the house. He was the harbinger of death, but she had little time to think of that, let alone save her own life. Perhaps she greeted him with a smile. But the degenerate thought little of all this as he committed this barbaric act and squashed all hope of life from her. She fell victim to his deviant behaviour in her own bedroom. She may have tried to call out the names of her mother, father and brother, but the man had stuffed a piece of cloth into her mouth, making it difficult for her to call out for help.

When the Police found her body, there were various scratch marks all over her. Her upper lip contained bite marks of the man who had viciously raped her. Her life had ended all too soon. As she lived 17 years of her life, carefree and happy, she did not know that she was being watched lustfully. Death came to her as this man fulfilled his barbaric sexual desires.

Police reports indicate that Sandya was alone at home when the incident took place. Her father was tending to his paddy field. Her brother had left for work to another city. Her mother, R. M. Seelawathi, was selling savouries at a place close to home. But perhaps her mother felt that something was wrong and thus, she had returned home early that day. It was too late by then and her daughter was dead—raped and killed. As she saw her daughter spread out on the bed, lifeless, she began to scream, but Sandya would not wake to her pleas. A few neighbours came rushing to her aid and soon called the Police emergency hotline for assistance.

Suspect Apprehended

Giribawa Police OIC Inspector K. V. P. C. Deepal and officers who sprang into immediate action called into assistance officers of the Meegalewa and Galgamuwa Police stations and rushed to the girl’s house. But all efforts made to resuscitate Sandya failed. Investigations into the crime thus began right away. As news of the crime spread around the village of Saloya Ashokapura, terror and sadness engulfed the hearts of the villages and they all flocked to Sandya’s house. They all lamented at her loss; she was the brightest student in her school.

Perhaps God was looking down on this tragedy at the time. For as word spread, the alleged rapist tried to flee the village by bus, but his suspicious manner was noticed first by the bus conductor. He immediately took to inform an individual at the Giribawa-Paluwewa junction three-wheeler park of this man.

The youth at the stand then acted fast and as the bus reached the Paluwewa junction, they stopped it and apprehended the suspect. Though Sandya’s life had been brought to an abrupt end, the perpetrator is yet to live his life. The three-wheeler drivers handed the suspect over to the Police. The Police thus far have identified him to be a 31-year-old bachelor.

Thereafter, initial investigations into the incident were carried out step by step. Officers began work from Kadimudiya. A yellow police tape was drawn around Sandya’s house and garden. All windows and doors of the house were shut. Everyone was prohibited from entering the house and Police security in the area was tightened. By this time, many had gathered around her house, impatient to know what had really happened. And as the mother broke down weeping in the lawn, her neighbours started discussing snippets of what they knew of the suspect. They said that the man was a drug addict and that after the incident took place, both his parents had fled the area. The residents, however, had broken into his home and even set fire to one of the rooms there.

The Police, in the meantime, said they found around 300 clips of pornographic material in the mobile phone of the suspect.

The Giribawa Police had taken the man into custody, but Police are yet to confirm his guilt. They had called to their assistance officers of the Nikaweratiya Crime branch.

Thereafter, magisterial inquiries into the case were carried out by Galgamuwa acting magistrate Himal Chandana Kahadawala. Sandya’s body had been sent to the Anuradha Teaching Hospital for post mortem investigations to be carried out under the Hospital’s specialist Judicial Medical Officer. Police officers have also made arrangements to send the suspect before the Galgamuwa Judicial Medical Officer to obtain a medical report from him.

As investigations progress, the Police presented the suspect before the Galgamuwa Magistrate’s Court on August 24. They had pressed charges of rape and murder against the suspect. Galgamuwa Magistrate L.T. Warushawithana ordered that the suspect be remanded until September 4.

Nikaweratiya Police Superintendent Sanjeewa Bandara had been in constant contact with Police officers, along with Galgamuwa Police Assistant Superintendent Anura Delgahapitiya who was coordinating all efforts from the scene of the crime. The OICs of Galgamuwa and Meegalewa too have extended their cooporation towards Giribawa OIC K. V. P. C. Deepal and his officers.

As the sun set on Sandya’s house, her light which shone through her home is no more. The sister who would wait near the door for her brother to return home will no longer be there to greet him. Her books too will no longer feel her touch as they gather dust in her room. As her friends mourn her loss, Sandya will not hear their cries and she bids farewell to this world.

We hope that our justice system serves her well and executes punishment on her perpetrator, so that we will no more have to write about the tragedy of girls like Sandya.