Gang violence takes toll on the innocent | Sunday Observer

Gang violence takes toll on the innocent

Anne Rasika Royel
Anne Rasika Royel

Shootings in recent times have become a weekly occurrence as simmering gang rivalries have continued to play out in the open. But last week, the nation reeled in shock when a 40-year-old mother of two travelling in a car was shot dead by unidentified gunmen with her nine-year-old daughter seated right beside her. The incident occurred on a busy Negombo road in broad daylight. As the woman sat critically injured in her car CCTV footage captured her assailants making their getaway.

The victim, identified as, Anne Rasika Royel, a resident of Jaela Kapuwatte was later revealed to be an innocent victim of a gang rivalry, with the intended target being the notorious Welweiriya Liyanage Krishantha Ajith Kumara, better known by his alias as ‘Kalu Ajith’.

According to the Police, on that day, Anne and her young daughter Elisa had attended Sunday Mass at a Church in Kandana before heading towards Jaela to collect a hoarding for a new business venture she had recently embarked on.

At the same time, as fate would have it, Kalu Ajith was heading towards Veyangoda, with two of his henchman, after presenting himself at the Police Colombo North Crime Investigation Division. As a suspect of a murder case, and recently released on bail Ajith had been ordered to present himself at the Police every last Sunday of the month by Court.

As Anne’s would be killers pursued Ajith, catching up with him at Weligampitiya, they sprayed bullets from a T56 weapon, which unfortunately, found Anne instead of the intended target. Miraculously, however, her daughter was unhurt. According to the Police the gunmen had confused the two vehicles due to their similarities as Anne and Ajith both had been travelling in a Silver Honda Fit car at the time. Escaping unscathed Ajith had sped away to the Jaela Police Station and reported the incident as an attack on his life, claiming he believes he was the intended target of the gunmen.

According to the Police, Kalu Ajith, a gang leader suspected of ordering a hit on Gampaha businessman Osman Gunasekara in April 2017 and the killing of underworld figure ‘Udammita Samare’ in December 2016 has made many enemies along the way, and he being the target was the most plausible explanation regarding the unfortunate incident. However, the Police are said to be conducting investigations along several leads at the moment.

Having lived with her husband in Italy for a number of years, Anne had returned to Sri Lanka about eight years ago planning to educate her children in Sri Lanka. A fate perhaps, never expected by her, the children now aged nine and 12 have been left without their loving mother, the latest victim of gang violence. On the day, though Anne was rushed to the hospital where the doctors had carried out an emergency surgery on her, they were unable to save her life. Her daughter who had witnessed her mother’s brutal death remains in shock, according to relatives.

While several Police teams are conducting investigations into the tragic and brutal killing, no arrests have been made, yet. However, according to the Police, they have now discovered the vehicle used by the killers to carry out the attack. Tracing the vehicle through CCTV footage, the Kelaniya Range Crimes Division Officers discovered it, parked at the vehicle hiring facility in Kandy. According to information gathered from the business, the Police say the underworld duo had posed as businessmen in order to hire the vehicle they used on the day. The brazen hit men had returned the vehicle to the facility the same day, it was revealed. But while the killers are still at large, the Police who have identified the gunmen are conducting further investigations led by DIG Colombo North Deshabandu Tennekoon, sources in the Department said.