24 June, 2024


30th July 1983: The Second Naxalite Plot

By Rajan Hoole –

Rajan Hoole

Sri Lanka’s Black July – Part 5 –

Addressing the nation over radio on the 29th, Prime Minister Premadasa attributed the violence to wild rumours. On the 30th Minister of State and Cabinet Spokesman de Alwis blamed the violence on three Left oriented parties, the JVP, the Communist Party and the Trotskyite NSSP. He announced a three-phase conspiracy by these groups. Its first phase was to induce violence between Sinhalese and Tamils, second between Sinhalese and Muslims, and third between Buddhists and Christians among the Sinhalese. They were banned and the detention of their activists and leaders was ordered. The confusion among the ministers on covering up their crimes was also reflected in the Sun editorials. On the 28th it was Sinhalese reaction to the loathsome Northern terrorists. On the 29th it was a mastermind who seemed to enjoy licence from the law enforcers. On 1st August the editorial was on de Alwis’s suggestion that Communists with money were behind the violence – a line that the ruling class was comfortable with, as witnessed from the press either promoting or not challenging the repression licensed under Jayewardene’s invention of the first Naxalite Plot in October 1982.

Addressing the government parliamentary group on 4th August, Jayewardene, now clearer about the line to take, elaborated on the second Naxalite Plot. He spoke of a four-phase plan which was to culminate in the Government being replaced by certain groups in the armed services. It is almost unnecessary to add that no such sections were identified, and no inquiry was ordered into such a grave allegation.

These shifts were no doubt clumsy attempts at a cover up as well as to stifle opposition. The conspiracy theory appeared, in Sinha Ratnatunga’s book and has been cited by Rohan Gunaratne in his Lost Revolution – his book on the JVP. According to Ratnatunga, Jayewardene was apprised of the four-phase master plan by ‘leftist elements’ who ‘anticipated food riots amidst chaos’.

Gunaratne adds: “The leaders of the leftist elements were identified as members of the JVP, and the next day the President proscribed most of the Left parties…” (See Sect. 12.7.)

Mr. Rudra Rajasingham when asked about the banning of the Left parties, replied that he was most surprised that the Government had banned them as they were definitely not involved. He was clear that the violence had been planned and about who was behind it. When asked about the report in Sinha Ratnatunga’s book about his and Ernest Perera’s meeting with Jayewardene to communicate details of the plot, he remembered the meeting, but could not remember what had transpired.

He said that he must check with Ernest Perera. Contacted another time, he said that he would not like to make any further observations.

Confirmation that the JVP was not named comes also from a senior police officer in charge of Jayewardene’s security, who also admired him. He noted that the Army were conniving with those indulging in communal attacks on Tamils, and that it was a ‘master stroke’ for Jayewardene to tell the Army the next morning (29th) that they were aiding the JVP by their connivance or inaction. It was only then, he added, that the Army started restoring order. Apart from any fear the Government may have entertained, the banning of the Left parties suppressed the only active opposition.

There was also another matter. Earlier in 1983 the JVP leader Rohana Wijeweera had challenged the 1982 Referendum result in the District Court alleging a number of serious abuses. These included the intimidation of voters, opposition supporters and polling agents by threats, violence, display of deadly weapons and confiscation of polling cards of those suspected of being against the 4th Amendment extending the term of parliament. A court order to preserve ‘packets and documents’ connected with the Referendum had been secured by Wijeweera.

Following the ban on the JVP on 30th July, Wijeweera had to go underground. Towards the end of the year the District Judge dismissed the action following the plaintiff’s failure to answer interrogatories served on him. Much later the Commissioner of Elections confirmed all the serious charges with expressions such as “surprising”, “shocking” and “serious doubts” as to the voters having “exercised the degree of freedom of voting stipulated by the law”. How short-sighted a gain for Jayewardene and at what heavy cost?

Part one – Sri Lanka’s Black July: Borella, 24th Evening

Part two – Sri Lanka’s Black July: What Really Happened At Kanatte?

Part three – Black July: ‘Api Suddha Kara’ – JR’s Failure To Declare Curfew

Part four – Sri Lanka’s Black July: The Cover Up

*From Chapter 9 of  Rajan Hoole‘s “Sri Lanka: Arrogance of Power  – Myth, Decadence and Murder”. Thanks to Rajan for giving us permission to republish. To be continued tomorrow ..

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Latest comments

  • 0

    Mr. Rudra Rajasingham when asked about the banning of the Left parties, replied that he was most surprised that the Government had banned them as they were definitely not involved. He was clear that the violence had been planned and about who was behind it.

    Well, perhaps its time Rudra Rajasingham was approached again. This time perhaps he might be more forthcoming given LTTE’s demise. Random chaos present in riots were not present. It was a surgical strike on Tamils living in the south. Someone would have prepared these lists months a head. Would JRJ or anyone in his cabinet go to such extent?

    What is known is LTTE money collection activity in preceding months. It is said however the response was somewhat mute. Pirbpakahran certainly did not appreciate Colombo Tamils being unsympathetic to the cause.

    I remember the anger against Tamils after killing of soldiers. People hated Tamils enough to beat them in the streets. Although the middle and latter stages of the riots were far more insidious. The house-by-house surgical strike was uncharacteristic of sudden burst of emotion.

    Would the guy who used Tamil suicide attacks on other Tamils not take advantage of riots? I think he did. I also think the 6 Tamil DIGs either knew or helped LTTE in preparing these lists. I don’t know what they are breeding inside Jaffna. One thing certain its far from wholesome.

    • 0

      “I also think the 6 Tamil DIGs either knew or helped LTTE in preparing these lists”
      Before 83 July LTTE or other groups were not very popular or taken seriously even in Jaffna let alone Colombo.So,six Tamil DIGs helped Prabhakaran in this is a bit far fetched. But the IGP,DIGs and the lot knew exactly what was happening and it was well planned well in advance.The question is by whom and who wanted it to happen. Western embassies by allowing mass exodus of refugees gives a clue.

  • 0

    But the IGP,DIGs and the lot knew exactly what was happening and it was well planned well in advance.The question is by whom and who wanted it to happen.

    Agreed, it was planned in advance. That entirely rules out any Sinhala involvement though isn’t it? To plan in advance you need to have known about the ambush that killed 13 soldiers. Only the party who were involved in the ambush could have planned in advance..

    • 0

      Why not a third party that organised the ambush as well as the pogrom!
      and then opened their doors to mass refugee migration!! Don’t you see. The series of events occured in a manner to enlarge and sustained the Eelam struggle and Prabhakaran was no such genius. He simply didn’t have the capacity to force JRJ to accomodate but clearly there were those who could.

      • 0

        You are thinking of India are you not? The involvement of RAW was speculated, but it would serve no point going in to it now after so many years.

  • 0

    Well, it was a collaboration between SL Tamil nationalists, Rajiv/Indira/Dixit and MGR. It was also a program with a schedule that started circa 1980 with a planned end in 1987.

    The SL Tamil nationalist camp would have organised the whole thing. The objective of 1983 would have been to drive majority Tamils who live down south to North and the East. This would be similar to Inida/Pak partition and subsequent exodus. Although many think over 5000 were killed its not so. Between Jan and July very low deaths were recorded at the govt registrar. The motive was to force Tamils to re-locate to NE. LTTE engineered similar exodus in 1992 and again in 2009.

    TULF would have known it too. I say it confidently because I have read an old Sun newspaper article that mentioned how Armithalingam left for India the next day without doing anything to calm the violence.

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