27 July, 2021

Blog

Tribute To Vijaya Kumaratunga On The Day He Was Assassinated

By Rajasinghe Bandara

Dr Rajasinghe Bandara

Vijaya Kumaratunga was assassinated on 16 February 1988. On the day, I was in the accident ward of Colombo General (Ward Place) Hospital, by the bed of my friend who was admitted to the hospital due to a head injury.  While I was talking to him, suddenly a shocking news was spreading among the patients and the visitors. The news: Vijaya Kumaratunga had been shot and he is being brought to the general hospital. I said to my friend ‘I must go and see him’ Some people started running through corridors and, I also joined them to see Vijaya.  But I had no idea where to run. People were running up and down. As I was running a bystander asked me ‘Where are you running?’ ‘To see Vijaya’ I said. ‘You are running to the opposite; his body is being brought to the mortuary. It is on the other side. Follow me.’ The little hope I had about his survival, gone. The man’s words mean Vijaya is no more….

When we entered a middle road, we saw a long van (I cannot remember whether it was a hearse) was carrying his body on a stretcher. I looked through the glasses closely. Tall, broad-shouldered Vijaya’s body was covered with bloodstained white cloth (as I remember) and shaking on the stretcher as the vehicle was moving slowly.  Hospital watchers at the morgue entrance blocking people who were trying to enter the premises. I remember Jeewan Kumaratunga (well-known actor and nephew of late Vijaya Kumaratunga) was standing in front of the doors of the morgue, his terrified face turned black and no other people was around him. I was devastated, as Vijaya was one of my heroes and most admired persons as a film star and genuine politician who tried hard to bring a negotiated peace settlement to the ethnic conflict between the government and the Tamil Tigers (LTTE).

Vijaya on the peace mission with LTTE in Jaffna

I can still feel the agony I had on the day, no one was with me to share the grief. After his body was taken in, on my way back to the place where I lived, I had to pass Pettah (Colombo) and was walking in front of the Fort Railway Station. There, I saw mounted police on a rehearsal. Then I looked at Manning Market, people were on their usual business, many people were walking on the pavements in a rush, some other people were shopping. I felt, they were all ungrateful.  Why can’t these police, people stop for a while and pay respect to the much-loved actor and politician?’ He was extremely loving, friendly character. After his political mission with the Tamil Tigers in Jaffna, I met him in a catholic church in Maradana – Colombo, when he came to deliver a talk about his mission to Jaffna.  The Church’s conference hall was full of people, there were many young nuns. Those days I had been doing a research on the ethnic-conflict and wanted to get some thoughts from Vijaya Kumaratunga after the talk. When I addressed him ‘Vijay’, he put his arm over my shoulder and asked with gentle voice, ‘Ei Malli’ this was the way he won hearts of people. He agreed to give a time for me.

As the main actor, Vijaya’s role in Hanthane Kathawa, inspired me to do my first degree at Peradeniya University. Since I had best Advanced Level results in the district, my class teacher told me ‘You can apply to any University, would you like to apply for Colombo University law faculty, so, one day you can be a barrister’ I said, ‘No Sir, I want to go to Peradeniya University, it is one of the most beautiful Universities’ So I applied to enter my dream University, the image was formed in my mind after Hanthane Kathawa. The scene and the song on the top of Hanthana mountain, as Vijaya was singing with friends around him including Swarna Mallawarchchi and Tony Ranasinghe ‘Anantha Wu Derana Sara.. still echoes in the hearts of young lovers of Peradeniya University. It is a story of love and young spirits of students, as the director Sugathapala Senarath Yapa says.

Vijaya was silenced by the evil politics of JR Jayewardene regime to prevent him becoming the president of the country. It is still a mystery who ordered the Killing of Vijaya and whose desire was to destroy his beautiful face to prevent mourners to see it after his death. After the assassination state funeral was held at the Independence Square with full live coverage on the television to get maximum political advantages accusing Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna was responsible for the Killing. But former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga alleged the UNP government was behind the assassination of her beloved husband and was pointing her finger at then Prime Minister Ranasinghe Premadasa. She had been the President since 1994-2005 but I do not know any person was brought to justice regarding the killing. Time to time different versions appear on the media. Some still accuse Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna. So, Mrs Chandrika Kumaratunga has a duty to expose the real killers during her lifetime as best tribute to her slain husband.

Vijaya will be remembered as one of the great political leaders who sacrificed his life for the ethnic harmony and democracy in Sri Lanka.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 10
    6

    “Vijaya was silenced by the evil politics of JR Jayewardene regime to prevent him becoming the president of the country.”

    This is the characteristic of Buddhist Sinhala Fundamentalism who killed people like Lasantha.

    • 5
      5

      Ajith,
      There is nothing called Buddhist Sinhala Fundamentalism. Some people with vested interest are trying to create that. Buddhism has nothing to do with killing of Vijaya. That is simply dirty politics. Even up to now it is not clear who killed Vijaya; a Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim or Christian. Stop talking BS!

      “This is the characteristic of Buddhist Sinhala Fundamentalism…”

      • 3
        1

        Eagle ‘idiot’ Eye, it was that old bugger and a Buddhist fundamentalist called Somawansa Amarasinghe, who gave the orders to kill this lovely human. Dumb mutt, always mucked up in the head with racist thoughts.

        • 3
          3

          Tamil from the north,
          Did Somawansa Amarasinhe confess that he gave orders to kill Vijaya? You are also speculating. So I have the right to speculate that it could be Prabhakaran who gave the order to kill Vijaya because of his efforts to stop LTTE Tamil terrorism which he did not want.

          • 4
            1

            Oh boy what a complete moron this Eagle ‘idiot’ Eye is, Vijaya was much loved by the LTTE who hosted him in Jaffna with reverance and great love. He got a few captured soldiers released by the LTTE by him personally visiting the LTTE and at one point the LTTE carried Vijaya on their shoulder and asked him to come as many times as possible and visit them. Idiot, what killer kills and says oh by the way I am the one who killed Vijaya. When CBK made a deal with this old bugger Somwansa, the children asked the mother why would you make a deal with the devil that killed our dad. So go and figure you foolish fellow. Vijaya was an ambassador of peace and kindness from the south. Even this lovely human could not live in peace.

    • 0
      1

      A
      Don’t you know who killed Vijaya?

      • 1
        0

        SJ,
        Did you see the murderer?

  • 6
    1

    ” The little hope I had about his survival, gone. ” Yes, with that a Chance that a Sinhala leader could have saved 150,000 Tamils also was dimmed

    “President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga alleged the UNP government was behind the assassination of her beloved husband and was pointing her finger at then Prime Minister Ranasinghe Premadasa”
    When LTTE killed UNP president, Sinhalese fired crackers. When Sinhalese killed Vijaya, Tamils felt the loss. The environment of Lankawe has evolved to not voting with pencil, but with bullet. CBK’s father, SWRD willingly sacrificed him to open this path.

    RIP

    • 3
      4

      Mallaiyuran,
      Do you have evidence to prove that Sinhalese killed Vijaya? According to the article no one knows for sure who killed Vijaya. It could be a Tamil who did not like Vijaya’s efforts to stop LTTE Tamil terrorism and promote peace and harmony between Sinhala and Demala people. Leaders of LTTE and their backers did not want peace and harmony between the two communities.
      —-
      “When Sinhalese killed Vijaya, …”

      • 2
        2

        Eagle ‘mutt’ Eye, do you have evidence that the LTTE killed Sinhalese? Were you there personally and watch LTTE blowing up people in Colombo. You idiot, that is a known fact that the LTTE blew up people and buildings in the south. For a mutt like you, you will never accept atrocities committed by the majority but you will magnify every atrocity committed by the minorities way out of proportion. As a Tamil, I do not deny the dreaded LTTE committed heinous crimes in the counrty, but racists from the south started all this nonsense.

  • 1
    0

    There was a talk going on in the country that the President was told by a soothsayer that a Wije would take his job,so they finished Wijeweera,Wijewardanqa and Vije Kumaratunge but the person who succeeded the president was a another Wijthunge.Perhaps imagination running riot?

  • 6
    0

    It is one of the most shameful episodes that is also a damning indictment on the entire country. By chance I happened upon an interview of Jayantha Mallimarachi the son of former UNP Minister Weerasinghe Mallimarachi. I have no reason to doubt the varacity of what he said. Eventhough this account is in the public domain we still get comments that are totally false aimed at hoodwinking those that still do not know the real story. Viajaya was assasinated by Lionel Ranasinghe. Lionel Ranasinghe was a serial murderer who confessed to killing 43 prominent UNP politicians and others. On his list was Vijaya. The last killing was of Professor Stanley Wijesundera. If was after the murder of professor Stanley Wijesundera the he got caught. In his confession he describes in great detail how he killed Vijaya. All 43 people he killed was according to orders he was given. He was a member of the JVP. A committee of senior JVP members would meet and decide whom to kill next. An emissary was then sent to meet Lionel Ranasinghe at a bus stop or other public place where he will be told who his next target would be.

    • 1
      2

      This is different from the FP/TULF killing style where the party decide and make a Ratha potty speech to ask all their opponents who are turncoats to be killed by the child brigade trained in Tamil Nadu. Wow is different style.

    • 1
      0

      Thiha, good information, thanks.

  • 5
    0

    I am doing this expose as a public service. Sri Lankans particulary Sinhalese Buddhist have become so indifferent to killing people that life has become very cheap. In Lionel Ranasinghe’s description he says that he was asked to not only kill Vijaya but also to make sure his face would be completly obliterated. Such was the hatred of these scoundrels. He shot Vijaya as he walked outside his home toward his vehicle. Vijaya fell down dead. Then he ( Lionel) crossed the road the walked upto the fallen Vijaya and pumped a volley of bullets into Vijaya’s face unitl there was nothing left of the poor mans head. Lionel also confessed that he was scared because he noticed a female watching from the gate of Vijaya’s home at what he was doing. That female was Madam Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge. Lionel Ranasingeh was a serial killer who took pride in his work. After killing his victims he would take a personal item that belonged to the victim as a souvenir.

    • 2
      0

      Thiha, please write the entire story of what happened to this wonderful man Vijaya K. You seem to know a lot. Instead of commenting here, why don’t you write an actual piece for CT for us all to read and get a better understanding.

  • 5
    0

    Lionel Ranasinghe ran scared that he thought he would be identified by CBK. This was the only killing where he could not take a souvenir. This mas should have been put on trial and executed publicly. That is how deterance should work. But in typical Sri Lanka fashion he was taken some place by the police and shot dead. The lack of confidence in your own legal system and the absolutely deceitfull scoundrels who sit on many judicial benches is partly to be blamed for this type of action. SO to conclude Vijaya was not killed by JR, or Premadasa or any other UNP leader. The evidence speaks very clearly based on a serial killers own confession. When SWRD was shot he pleaded with the constable not to shoot and kill the Buddhist preist who shot him. Beginning from that day how many leaders from decent families have we lost to the assassins bullet or to a bomb and why is the correct version of the story never told rather than the truth the very killing is used to score political points by pointing the finger at the wrong person.

    • 2
      0

      Thiha.

      Thanks. May I ADD THIS.
      Wife of Somawansa Amarasinghe [ High command of the JVP] AND WIFE OF ex;Minister Sirisena Cooray were sisters.This incident took place in 1988, after the signing of the Indo-Lankan accord and the IPKF WAS IN THE COUNTRY. There was violence unleashed by the JVP and this helped Premadasa to defeat Mrs.B. at the Presidential poll.

      When Upali Wijewardena disappeared in 1982, off the cost of Malaysia Sirisena Cooray was High Commissioner in Malaysia.
      Are these mere coincidences or is there much more to it than it meets the eye.
      Anyway, wheels within wheels.

      Then, there is also the murder of Lalith Athulathmudali, conveniently foisted on the LTTE.

      • 3
        0

        I forgot the most important part.

        Had Vijaya been spared of his life the History of this country would have taken a different trajectory, whereby there would have been understanding and goodwill between communities.

  • 3
    0

    the demise of Vijaya makes a gap of the ethnic unity. He was bridge to the both end to clear the doubts of north and south and he was raised for rights of SriLlankans. “She had been the President since 1994-2005 but I do not know any person was brought to justice regarding the killing. Time to time different versions appear on the media.” is the politics more important and powerful than the justice ? .Evil politics. Vijaya is iconic as an actor for all Sri Lankan. His political vision is blindfolded by the people who promised to cultivate vijaya’s vision on behalf of vijaya.

  • 3
    0

    Madam CBK,
    ‘It is still a mystery who ordered the Killing of Vijaya and whose desire was to destroy his beautiful face to prevent mourners to see it after his death.’’ There was substantial evidence in the special presidential commission report of the murder investigation of Vijaya Kumaratunga to justify Mrs Chandrika Kumaratunga’s claims. Her main suspect was Prime minister Premadasa. The report says even after he became the president how his government and his state minister of defence Ranjan Wijeratne tried to wipe out evidence by disappearing the assassins Lionel Ranasinghe and his assistant. The report had recommended to take actions against the police officers who had misused their powers to destroy evidence. It is said, the gun used to kill Vijaya was from Gamini Lokuge (former UNP MP, minister, and minister of transport of current government). Why CBK was not interested to use her executive powers to prosecute them?

  • 3
    0

    Madam CBK,
    I forgot one thing if you are blaming only Premadasa, does it mean JR was innocent. How Premadasa managed to get those things done without approval or any knowledge of the dictator. Did you get your officers (when you were the president) to question J.R. Jayawardena regarding that?

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 7 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.