Featured image by Raisa Wickrematunge
On the the wall of Sandya Eknaligoda’s home is a black and white cartoon of a snake devouring the egg it has hatched from.
The cartoon is familiar – it is the work of Prageeth Eknaligoda, her husband, missing since January 24, 2010.
“If there’s anyone who has gone to great lengths in searching for details of her husband, that’s me,” Sandya Eknaligoda says. “Everyone knows that.”
Sandya spoke to Groundviews shortly after a detailed article on the progress of the investigation into Eknaligoda’s disappearance. Described as a “politically motivated crime” the case has been delayed due to attempts to withhold evidence.
Detailing her many visits to court, police stations, and other State bodies (by her count, she said she travelled to court as many as 50 times in 2016 alone) Sandya has been indefatigable in searching for answers. But she speaks most forcefully when she details the continued misinformation that has been spread about Prageeth Eknaligoda’s character – often, she says, by the Rajapaksas and their supporters.
“They have said he is abroad, in Dubai and in Europe. They have said he is living with another woman. They have said he is a terrorist.”
Sandya says these vicious rumours have destroyed her children’s lives. Last June, she filed a complaint with the CID in the wake of death threats leveled at her on social media (one of the people she named included an advisor to President Sirisena, Ulapane Sumana Thero) after a contempt of court case filed against the General Secretary of the Bodu Bala Sena, Gnanasara Thero, saw him convicted.
Prageeth Eknaligoda’s disappearance has been termed an “emblematic case”. There have been numerous reports detailing progress around investigations – but what does the term progress mean to Sandya, nine years later?
Watch a short clip from the interview with her, below.
Although the current Government was voted into power on several promises, including on accountability for past rights violations including those leveled against journalists, there has been little progress. Sandya did not hold back in condemning recent acts of tokenism on the part of the State to pay tribute to journalists, including Minister of Housing Development Sajith Premadasa’s recent announcement of four new housing projects in Weeraketiya, Hambantota, named after journalists Poddala Jayantha, Lasantha Wickrematunge, Keith Noyahr and Upali Tennekoon. Footage courtesy Selvaraja Rajasegar, from Maatram.
9 years later, Sandya is still searching for answers.