STOLEN: He kept looking behind and cried “amma, amma”

NESOHR | Published on March 1, 2012 at 2:34 am

Footprints in Sand  is a report of children missing from the North and East of Sri Lanka. It is called the MAM report an acronym  for the three villages from which these children were taken – Mandaitivu-Allapiddy-Mankumban

The Douglas connection: Excerpted from report - "They met Douglas Devananda in the first week of June 1991. He got the particulars and then told them that he will go to Anuradhapura and will inform the family. The family went to Anuradhapura about ten times between 1991 and 1992 to meet Denzil Kobbekaduwa and succeeded in meeting him five times. When the family contacted Denzil Kobbekaduwa on 17th June 1991, he asked the family whether they have contacted Douglas Devananda about their children. Again on 13th May 1992 Kobbekaduwa told them that he would visit the islands of M-A-M and after that he will show the children to the family. They met Douglas again on 25th June 1992 when he assured them that he would speak to the family after a visit to the islands of M-A-M. The family was called by the 1995 Presidential Commission of Inquiry. Theirs is the only family from the list that managed to attend the inquiry. This is because they were in Colombo and managed to get a date in Colombo. All the other families were displaced to Vanni during the period of the inquiry and were not contactable due to the communication and transport difficulties under the war situation. This family’s inquiry was held on 12th June 1996. At the inquiry the three commissioners instructed the family to ask Douglas Devananda about their children. They also promised to inquire from Douglas Devananda and inform the family but the family did not hear anything from the Commissioners after that. This family also claims that when they appealed through Miss Maheswari Velayutham to the Ministry of Rehabilitation she has told the family that one or two people are with EPDP and the rest are in army camps, working. Later in March 2004 she denied that she said this."

(M-A-M). The disappearances occurred between 25-08-90 & 23-09-90. The report was published fifteen years after the disappearances in 2005 by the NorthEast Secretariat On Human Rights Karadipokku Junction Kilinochchi (NESOHR) and states it is the ‘outcome of the efforts and struggles of the families who lost their children. They initiated this report and helped with the investigations’.

You can email the Secretariat at 

The Introduction to the  report is published below together with a short excerpt depicting the story of one family.

“Between August 23rd 1990 and September 25th 1990, the Sri Lankan military detained hundreds of young men from the neighbouring villages of Mandaitivu, Allaipiddy, and Mankumban (M-A-M). At least seventy of those young men have not been heard from since.

From eight families more than one member has been taken. From one family three members has been taken.

The three villages, Mandaitivu, Allaipiddy and Mankumban, are situated just across the Dutch Fort in Jaffna. From here the Sri Lankan military launched its operations (see map on back cover). The majority of the people in the M-A-M villages were farmers, fishermen and toddy tappers. Prior to 1990 it was economically prosperous. Given that there were only about 800 families living in these three villages the impact of the incident on the villagers is substantial. The above two dates are engraved deeply in the psyche of the three villages.

For fifteen years the families have been searching for their loved ones. Eventually their search led them to us, at the NESOHR inquiry team. We spoke to 41 families who have lost 50 family members. From eight families more than one family member had been taken. In one family three family members had been taken.”

Below are some excerpts about the role of Douglas Devananda in this affair from what other families have told us.

“….S Ratman Jeyaseelan’s (MT24) brother-in-law says, My mother-in-law (Ratman’s mother) and I went and spoke to Douglas Devananda. We asked him to release Rattu since he is a boy who does not have a father. Douglas said “He is a good child and we will not do anything to him. We are keeping him only to transport water”. … Rattu’s van is sandalwood colour. After that whenever I see the van at a distance I run towards it. When I go there Douglas Devananda will be there. They will be transporting water. When Rattu’s mother is there she will beg for Rattu’s release. Douglas will say “Amma why do I need your boy. I will keep him until we capture the Fort and then I will release him”. On the fourth day they broke the ration shop and took rice and other stuff and told us to cook and eat. Douglas Devananda came. He looked very young. He read the list and he released my second brother. One commander who was good to me inquired me and released me. My older brother was not released. Douglas said that they inquired everywhere and that they cannot find him”.

6. The Search – Inquiry No 1

“The Jesuratnam family (MT01-MT03) made their own private inquiries through contacts in the various prisons. They received the two letters in Appendix B1 from two prison guards. A prison guard who was working in the Trincomalee CCMP jail wrote the first letter to another prison guard Pathmanathan. Pathmanathan wrote the second letter to Jesuratnam, attaching the first letter. The first letter lists the names of six young men in the base list and says that they with 80 others were in the CCMP jail on 14th August 1992. The courts released many of these men. However, these men were then taken to the Fort and then transported to Colombo by ship.

“They took my younger son as well and released him on the fourth day. I asked Douglas when we were standing at the Allaipiddy junction. I told him that if he needs people for help I will come and to let my son go. They were giving welfare on the road. About 15 or 20 days after our children were taken he said that they are all there. We heard that they were taken to Manalaru”.

“Douglas came. We begged and cried to him. He told us “Amma your boys are not with the army. We are keeping them. We will let them go soon”. His men then gave rice and other dry rations to us at the junction. We told them that we do not want anything and to just give us our children back. To this he consoled us by saying, “Amma did I not say that they are with me. Why are you still asking? I will relax when I give them back to you. I will give them before the 24th of next month”. We were confident that our boys would be released. So we took the rations and went back.

This happened 2 or three times. … Army was in the Fort. We heard that when those army came they killed all our boys. Once we asked Douglas at the junction about this and he said, “Amma I took the responsibility. They will not do anything to them. Do not worry”…….”

To read the full report click  MAM-Report-A4N


NOTE: This website does not necessarily holds the opinions or historical viewpoints presented in this report 





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Human Rights

Douglas Devananda

STOLEN: He kept looking behind and cried “amma, amma”

Footprints in Sand  is a report of children missing from the North and East of Sri Lanka. It is called the MAM report an acronym ...