“I’m not worried about them. I want to know what happened to the one that has gone missing.”
70 year old Yogaradhi says she cannot remember when her grandson, Alfred Thinu, went missing, or how. She remembers his birthday, August 6, 1992. She also recalls that he was with the family up until Mathalan.
“There were more than 200,000 people running for their lives. We don’t know where we lost him in that process. We were around eight to nine persons amidst thousands of people. We didn’t know what was happening. Our heads were heavy with the belongings that we were carrying.”
Yogaradhi and her family wrote to 40 Army camps from Chettikulam camp where they were stationed. At the time, the military said that her grandson was at Vavuniya Saivapragasam school.
She has not heard from him, to date.
The following Virtual Reality (VR) video was shot by Selvaraja Rajasegar, editor of Maatram, using the Gear 360, which records immersive photography and video. It is best watched with a VR headset.
This series was shot to mark the International Day of the Victims for Enforced Disappearances, held on August 30. It highlights the stories of two women, remembering their missing family members.
Yogaradhi believes her grandson was taken by the military – although the family had only referred to him as ‘Thinu’ when writing to the Army, they had referred to him by his full name in their response. They had even given them a file number – 303. Dharmarani on the other hand says she believes it was the LTTE who took two of her sons.
“Things would have been very different if both the boys were with us. They are smart boys. The people used to say that if they were here they would have got some machine or vehicle and earned for the family. They were very smart.”
Dharmarani still believes that the younger of her sons is alive. He’s street-smart, she says, and could have found a way to survive.
“I have walked from Mullaithivu to Vattuvaalpaarai to courts having taken part in various protests and demonstrations. In addition we went to the Kachcheri two or three times and staged hunger strikes.”
Apart from this, Dharmarani has even visited a soothsayer, who has given her some hope.
Both women are still waiting for answers.
Editor’s Note: Also read “Fragile Hope, Firm Resolve” and “In Their Absence: Families of the Disappeared Share Treasured Keepsakes“.