The voices on the walkie-talkie sound alarming. The eyes of security officers in uniform search for unknown faces. They stand 500 meters away from the church and closely monitor the situation. Those who are new to the church are stopped and their details are recorded. They undergo intense questioning.

This is the security division, consisting of 21 people, tasked with ensuring security of the Zion church following the Easter Sunday attacks in 2019. Vel Arasaratnam is also one of the security officers on duty. The unit provides security whenever there is a special service at the church on Sunday.

Vel Arasaratnam’s 13 year old only son, who was a basketball player, lost his life in the attack on the church. For the past two years, Vel has been living with the memories of his son through items such as his bicycle, books, basketball and clothes that he had left behind.

“I had no other children to express my love. He was the only one I had. He was my entire life. Now my life is nothing without him. I do not know what to do next,” says Vel. Grief fills his throat.

It has been two years since the Easter Sunday attacks. Thirty one people were killed in the suicide bomb attack on the Batticaloa Zion church. This includes 14 children.

A documentary of the heart wrenching stories of Vel Arasaratnam and Jeevanantham who lost two grandchildren can be viewed below.


View White Flags a story in photographs captured on 22 April 2019, the day after the Easter Sunday Bombings.

Also see Looking East, a photo-story from a visit to Batticaloa and Kattankudy three months after the attacks.

Click here to see more stories, articles and interviews related to the Easter Sunday Attack published on Groundviews.