Three persons affiliated to the 'Aava' group and who are alleged to have conducted a number of robberies and extortions in Jaffna, have been arrested in the Kotahena and Dehiwala areas by sleuths attached to the Jaffna Police.
The three men had been hiding in Colombo after the Jaffna Police launched an investigation to arrest them. The 'Aava' group gained notoriety in recent years after a series of crimes in Jaffna.
During a debate on the group in November last year, Law and Order and Southern Development Minister Sagala Ratnayake said "Two rival groups clashed at a religious ceremony at the Amman Kovil in Jaffna in 2011. Following this clash one group strengthened itself with more members and armed themselves and engaged in thuggery in Jaffna. Later, the group identified itself as the 'Aava Group'. The leader of the group was Kumares Rakkinan Vinothan alias 'Aava', who lives near the Kanni Amman Kovil in Jaffna. He is now in remand custody. The majority of members of this group are between 18 and 25 years of age. We have found evidence and information of the group engaging in extortion, robbery, attacking university students and other offences within the Jaffna Peninsula. They have been recruiting youth from poverty-stricken families to swell their numbers.
We also have evidence to prove that the members of this group served as hired criminals."
Some members of the group had been arrested several times and had been produced in Court, but they had been enlarged on bail. Some of those who served time in jail had established links with notorious and dangerous criminals, he said.
"We estimate that there are around 62 members in this group. Of them, 38 had been nabbed and investigations are in progress against six. We are looking for eight others believed to be the key leaders of the group. As the founding leader is behind bars, another is leading the group. They have not engaged in terrorist activities. It has been discovered that they have amassed an enormous amount of wealth through criminal activities. Some have obtained money from their relatives abroad. They have a fleet of modern and state-of-the-art motorcycles. The first sword they had obtained was from a person who had come to the North from Tamil Nadu. The sword had been made in Brazil and brought to Tamil Nadu. The group had got several ironsmiths here to make similar swords. On one occasion, members of the group had attacked and injured an ironsmith who refused to make swords for them. These incidents are under investigation."