20 April, 2024


The Heroes Of Anuradhapura

By Rajan Hoole

Dr. Rajan Hoole

Dr. Rajan Hoole

Antecedents Of July 1983 & The Foundations Of Impunity – Part IX

Although the Sansoni Report has been used selectively for propaganda, it, on the contrary, gives us strong direct and indirect evidence of the State’s blatant complicity in the communal violence. The events in Anuradhapura, and the conduct of G.W. Liyanage, SP, Anuradhapura, give us the strongest indication of direct involvement by the State. This was an officer directly responsible for the maintenance of peace in Anuradhapura. We rely on the Sansoni Report for the forthright account below of events in Anuradhapura, which is not a favourite section of those who acclaim the Report.

SP Liyanage had arrived in Jaffna at noon on the 16th, accompanying DIG Ana Seneviratne and, about 10.30 AM on the 17th, attended a conference in the Jaffna Kacheri. There, Superintendent of Health Services Dr. Dassanayake complained about the conduct of the Police. (He later left Jaffna after an anonymous caller told him that he would be ‘shot like a dog’.) Assistant Collector of Customs Mr. J. Senaratne who had come from Colombo by night train told SP Liyanage that he should be in Anuradhapura as Tamils had been attacked there. (The night trains had been attacked and the passengers robbed, but there had apparently been no deaths.) Liyanage had replied in Sinhalese, “Were they assaulted enough?

Liyanage was in Jaffna when the false police radio message was sent alleging that large Tamil mobs were attacking or were getting set to attack the Sinhalese. He left Jaffna for Anuradhapura on the 17th evening. It was the same evening that DIG Ana Seneviratne told Amirthalingam that the troubles had spread to Anuradhapura and Kurunegala and that it was going to be worse than 1958. In fact on the evidence of the Report, the main killing of Tamils started at Anuradhapura only after Liyanage’s arrival from Jaffna. In contrast, a number of Tamils commended the attitude of Liyanage’s assistant, ASP Chandra Mendis.

On the 17th evening, two Tamil employees at Anuradhapura hospital took refuge in the house of Dr. Wijewardene, Medical Superintendent. One of them, Sivasambu, later died of injuries received. SP Liyanage came there at 10.30 PM and repeated the false radio message sent that morning with some macabre additions: “Havoc in Jaffna, Sinhalese have been murdered, Sinhalese women raped on the road, Buddhist priests have been attacked and doctors in Jaffna hospital not attending to Sinhalese patients.”

SP Liyanage was at large in Anuradhapura on the 17th night, repeating this message with variations, such as Sinhalese women were being nailed to the wall in Jaffna. He was at the railway station about 11.45 PM soon after the single worst incident of murder, telling the surviving victims his stories about the gory fate of Sinhalese in Jaffna. Testimony against him is damningly plentiful, especially that of L.M. Poulier, District Mechanical Superintendent of Railways.

Mr. K. Gunasekera, District Superintendent of Railways had placed his Tamil colleagues in the rest rooms upstairs of the station and a police guard of four was placed at the staircase entrance below. Also, there were 5 armed soldiers under Lt. Percy Perera from the National Guard. Poulier came downstairs and spoke to T.D. Gunawardene, PC No. 5920, about looking after the Tamils upstairs. PC 5920 replied, “…They must be given the works for at least 10 minutes”. Poulier then saw a mob rushing upstairs carrying weapons, who came downstairs 5 to 10 minutes later, with articles removed from the victims. Just at this time Lt. Percy Perera’s party had conveniently vanished.

A little later SP Liyanage visited the scene with a Major Jayewardene and left after a short time. The gist of Liyanage’s conversation as reported by Poulier had been: “I have just returned by air from Jaffna. Serves the bastards jolly well, right. It’s been a bloody massacre here all right, yes, yes, about 4 or 5 casualties, I think. Hm, Yea, OK, Cheerio.” Later in the night, Poulier phoned Gunasekera and told him, “There is blue murder here. My Chief Trains Controller is dying and so many others are injured.

Although Sansoni did not say so, what he has recorded strongly suggests connivance between the security services and the mob similar to the Welikade prison massacre of July 1983. Tamils who asked SP Liyanage for help were abused and directed to “Colonel Amirthalingam”.

SP Liyanage had returned from Jaffna with so much zeal to carry out his brief that he had no use for discretion. He did not in the least feel shy about driving home the conclusion that he was a key mob leader as well as rumour-monger in Anuradhapura. Taken together with the events in Jaffna, he has left little to the imagination about what the Police hierarchy had discussed in Jaffna and the false radio message.

*To be continued..

*From Rajan Hoole‘s “Sri Lanka: Arrogance of Power – Myth, Decadence and Murder”. Thanks to Rajan for giving us permission to republish. To read earlier parts click here

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Latest comments

  • 6

    The Hooles are busy writing left and right. These people helped destroy the voice and the power of the Tamils in the height of the struggle, and now having attained nirvana, they have begun to write, occasionally blaming the Sinhalese regimes. The only game they know is the blaming game, mostly blaming the fellow Tamils and destroying the Tamils themselves.

  • 5

    This in meant to be a historical record.
    Incidents are referred to and individuals are implicated.
    Even if the statements are factual or even common knowledge, it will be proper to cite recorded evidence especially when charges are levelled against individuals who may not have the opportunity to defend themselves.

    I write this note as I am personally aware of undue credit given to me and to two of my friends while two others have been accused of things which they did not do. (I was witness to what happened following the attack on Balasooriyan in May 1983 in Peradeniya, until a while before his arrest by the police.)

    I am not exonerating any. But it is good practice to provide credible evidence of events which are not recorded history.

  • 2

    Your Gurus HLDM, Dayan,Gomyn et Al will never agree with the above writing.
    They will do their spinning based on your points stated above.

  • 4

    Like SamP, many respond to these writings, as they are written now. These was written during the hay day of State and LTTE Terror and released as a book “Arrogance of Power”. This shows how ignorant are people like SamP who blindly supported a fascist organisation such as LTTE and calling it as a ” voice of Tamils” when it strangled the voices of Tamils and sent thousands of young lives as sacrificial lamps in the name of liberation. People like SamP and others who as spectators of that tragedy, in the sidelie played a cheer leaders job has to take responsibilities for the failure to question disastrous politics which in the end trap so many people towards a tragic end.
    If you are really interested in contributing some thing positive, please read before you comment, what is written, when it was written the whole writings of these lonely warrior. Appreciate how courageous, people like Rajan Hoole, and others who took a principle stand against terror, where ever it came from and always sided with the people’s true liberation.

    • 4

      Thank you for writing this, Laxman. I absolutely second what you say. I have suggested to CT that they add the year of publication to the title of Rajan’s book, in future, so that people know how long ago it was written and at what a dangerous time.

    • 4

      Dear manel fonseka,

      As you say, Rajan Hoole must be one of the most courageous people who has ever lived. A fool acting like a bull in a china shop needn’t command our respect.

      There was a family gathering near Colombo yesterday, and there was a schoolmate of Rajan and me who was in the army. He retired early when he was a Colonel – perhaps he wasn’t comfortable with our Eelam Wars. I told him that I’d spent a couple of days with Rajan H. in Jaffna earlier this month. He was surprised that Rajan is in Jaffna, made many inquiries. The pertinent conversation went like this:

      Colonel: “I used to meet him often during those years of his hiding, in ‘non-public places like bus stands’. Well, I know that bus stands are public . . .”

      Sinhala_Man: “I know what you mean; you were anonymous . . .”

      Col: “Yes, I told him what I could impart to him without compromising myself. He used to listen very attentively. You know that ability of his to focus on something and absorb all that was essential, while rejecting what was irrelevant? How did you find him?”

      S_M: “Reasonably happy, and at peace with himself. By the way he knows nothing of electrical engineering any more; just not interested in Applied Science. Says that Applied Science leaves him cold; Mathematics and Clear Reasoning are what matter. But he was a gracious host; he’s on this vegan diet. His wife is an excellent cook, and omelettes were were added both days for me.”

      Col: “You know, I never thought that he would survive those bloody years. Few do, but I think that he was willing to pay the price, had it been necessary. Guys like Rajan can’t be mass produced”.

      I think that I agree!

  • 0

    We would also like to read Dr Rajan Hoole’s articles on how Tamil equation for people live in SL should be resolved. Has he published any such articles in recent years?

  • 4

    Rajan Hoole is our local version of Samuel Pepys,who wrote about events such as the Great Fire of London.,and the Great Plague of London.
    Hoole has essentially recorded the terrible times that this country had to undergo,from both sides of the divide-in the process exposing those who contributed to the sordid events.
    Normally,Historians write about events only much later,several centuries later!
    Astrologers,say things only after the event has occurred!
    Here,Rajan Hoole,gives us a Ring-Side view.

    • 4

      But Pepys wrote in a shorthand that he thought would never be deciphered. Hoole writes with absolute clarity, has voluntarily forgone any income he could get from his years of sacrifice, and has decided not to enforce his intellectual property rights.

      Dear Plato, that is in many other senses an enlightening parallel, but Hoole is greater and nobler!

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