Telephone calls from missing tsunami victim
DM / 7JUN2005
Keshani Chaturika Perera (14), a year 8 student of Vidyalankara Maha Vidyalaya, Mabima, near Jaela, left on a pilgrimage to Kataragama with a group of her relatives including her elder sister Anusha Lakmali (18 yrs) on the day of the tsunami disaster.
Keshani and five others in the group disappeared in the tsunami waves at Seenigama near Hikkaduwa.
On that fateful day, they left Gampaha early morning and by about 9am they reached Seenigama near Hikkaduwa where they paid homage to Seenigama Devala.
They were proceeding to Galle when tsunami waves swept their vehicle.
Eight of the passengers, including Keshani and her sister, alighted from the vehicle and raced against the waves, which did not show mercy on them.
Keshani's elder sister Lakmali, narrating her gruesome experience said, "Some young men saved us from drowning.
“I saw them save my sister as well, but I became unconscious and I was at a temple when I regained consciousness.
“Several others in our group who escaped the tragedy were also there, except my sister.
“I am sure that my sister was also saved."
Keshani's parents Ananda Perera and Thamara Mallawarachchi, who still believed Keshani would be among the living, mortgaged their house and property to meet the expenses for their search for the daughter.
They visited Galle and several other areas in the district by a van hired from Madelgamuwa.
The neighbours also joined Ananda Perera in these trips.
Ananda and his wife also depended on soothsayers and astrologers who assured them that Keshani was still among the living.
On May 4 a neighbouring house received a mysterious telephone call, supposed to be from Keshani. She said she was not killed in the disaster, but was being held by some individuals in a house behind the General Hospital at Karapitiya, in Galle.
This message was conveyed to Keshani's parents who hired the same van they hired earlier, and left for Karapitiya, where they searched for the missing girl, but to no avail.
On the following morning, Keshani called to the same house again and blamed her parents for not coming to save her.
"Are my parents not coming to save me? I will be killed if am not rescued soon. I am being held in a two-storey house behind Karapitiya hospital. Please come and save me."
Encouraged by this information, Ananda Perera left for Galle again, but this time with the Police.
They searched for Keshani all over the area but not a trace of her was found.
It is noteworthy that Ananda Perera hired the same van from Madelgamuwa in all these expeditions.
Several days later, the Officer In Charge of the District Intelligence Service, Gampaha received a similar telephone call from a girl who, sobbing and crying, introduced herself as Keshani, but soon realised she was on the wrong line and replaced the receiver.
The Police Intelligence Unit was already aware of the disappearance of Keshani and the subsequent telephone calls to her parents who were searching for their daughter.
On checking the caller's telephone number, officers found it belonged to a house at Madelgamuwa.
Police visited the house and questioned the occupants who refused the allegation.
On further questioning by the police, a schoolgirl in the house made a confession that it was she who made the telephone calls and that she did so on the instigation of a friend.
Inquiries also revealed that they had resorted to this plan to obtain hires for the van.
Although, Keshani's parents spent a colossal amount by mortgaging their house, it is still not confirmed whether she is living or dead.