Construction workers stumbled on a mass grave in Central Sri Lanka which gave rise to sensational theories of how the bodies ended up there.

“We have found 49 skulls and 53 pairs of bones,” police spokesperson Prishantha Jayakody told The Hindu, to a question.

The police said the remains were found during excavation for extending a government hospital in Matale. Amid many theories, one political party claimed these were remains of those killed in the 1988-89 JVP insurgency. Another theory held a landslip responsible.

“Based on enquiries with the local people, it appears that these are remains of people who perished about 60-70 years ago,” said Mr. Jayakody. Subscribing to the landslip/“earth-shift” theory, he said that since the doctors’ quarters were close to the site where the bodies were recovered, it was not possible that a mass grave was dug there to conceal a crime.

He said the quarters came up in the “sixties” and the landslip occurred before that.

Asked if a forensic or carbon dating procedure would be carried out, he replied in the affirmative. “Scientists are already at the site and are gathering evidence. This will be sent to the University for testing,” he said. Only after this procedure is completed will there be clarity on the period of death.

Asked when the process would be completed, so that there would be closure in the case, he said: “I do not know. These procedures take time.”

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