The Eastern University of Sri Lanka has stopped functioning following the abduction of its Vice Chancellor, Prof S Raveendranath, by an unidentified group in Colombo on December 15.
"Neither the staff nor the students are going to the university now," said an informed source in Batticaloa, where the university is located.
Students residing in the hostel have returned to their homes in other parts of the North and East.
Prof Raveendranath, an agricultural scientist, was a respected scholar and administrator known for his uprightness.
He was also one of the founder-members of the university.
It is not clear as to which group had abducted him. While the general theory among the Tamils is that the abduction has been carried out by the Karuna group to rid the East of northern Tamils ( Raveendranath is a northern Tamil from Jaffna), government sources in Colombo say that it could have been done by any disgruntled employee with the help of a mercenary armed group.
"There was no threat to the northern Tamils as such. It was only Raveendranath who had received threats," said a top University Grants Commission official.
Earlier, a shadowy group had abducted the Dean of the Fine Arts Faculty, Dr Bala Sugumar, to force Raveendranath to resign. But Raveendranath stood his ground and did not resign.
In October, Bala Sugumar was released by his captors.
However, Raveendranath shifted to Colombo for security reasons, and was functioning as Vice Chancellor from the "safety" of the capital.
So far, no group has either claimed or denied involvement in his kidnapping which happened in the afternoon in the vicinity of the high security Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH) in Colombo.
It had taken place when the driver of Raveendranath's vehicle had left to get a tire repaired. The police are questioning the driver.
Involved in peace building
The soft spoken Raveendranath was involved in developing a course in peace building along with the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Tribhuvan University of Nepal and Ruhuna University of South Sri Lanka.
Ruth Haug, Head of the Department of International Environment and Development Studies of the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, has written a letter to the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa asking him to take "urgent" action to find out the whereabouts of Prof Raveendranath.