The journalist working for a Colombo based Asia Broadcasting Corporation had been stopped by soldiers in the Mulaitivu district last Monday (19), who stubbornly demanded to see video footage in his possession.
Shanmugam Thavaseelan had been returning after meeting Alampil residents who were angered after government officials announced plans to permanently acquire a graveyard which has been under military occupation since 2009.
The military had demolished tombstones and denied access to relatives where the bodies of hundreds of fallen LTTE members had being laid to rest.
Land belonging to the cemetery is being used to agri-businesses by the military.
Soldiers from the 24th battalion of the Sinha Regiment who stopped Thavaseelan by the roadside had accused him of filming their nearby camp that contain several business ventures including a cafe. The cafe also has been built on the graveyard premises.
The journalist had explained that he was covering the issue concerning the Alampil burial ground.
An irate military officer had demanded to see the recording saying that it is a land earmarked for military takeover.
Right to information
The journalist had turned down the request defending his right to report issues that affect residents of the area.
“This is land occupied by the military,” Captain Lahiru Priyadarshana had told Thavaseelan in a bid to justify the demand.
Upon refusals by the journalist who stood his ground firmly, he was escorted to the camp to meet its commanding officer.
Colleagues alerted by the harassed journalist while being confronted by the soldiers, intervened to obtain his release after informing the military spokesman.
Mullaitivu is considered the most militarized district in the region where at least one soldier is present for every two civilians.