The end of a Moratuwa gangster

Moratuwa, a suburb of Colombo is well known for its prowess and artistry in woodcraft. Chaminda was a young man, who hailed from a family of furniture dealers in Moratuwa and spent his time in the family business, which was run by his mother.

Chaminda had two uncles who were law-abiding citizens, and who in addition to the timber trade were involved in money lending on the side. From his childhood Chaminda loved to be in the company of his two uncles and was very attached to them. Cutting short his education, he involved himself at a very early age in the business run by his family.

At 19 years he was a very popular youth in town with a string of friends always around him. He was well known to the villages as "Top Chaminda" a name he derived from his habit of always sporting a hat.

In 1994 "Moratu Saman" was terrorizing the Moratuwa area and all the businessmen in the town were forced to pay "kappan" to this thug. The payments demanded were in lakhs of rupees.

The two uncles of Chaminda were also approached and requested to meet the demand of Moratu Saman, or to face the consequences. They both refused to be intimidated and were promptly bumped off as an example to other businessmen in the area.

Chaminda was devastated by the loss of his uncles and yearned to take revenge from. But he knew did not have the power to avenge their deaths.

The subsequent closure of the timber business found Saman at a loose end and in need of employment as a means of income. Musing to himself he deplored his lack of education, which he felt if he had pursued, would have given him a chance of netting a good job.

He decided that the most reasonable avenue open to him, was to find employment in a foreign country and he got the opportunity to go to Japan.

After a two-year stint abroad, he returned to the country with substantial wealth and went about making new friends among whom was one Nillu. Unfortunately, Nillu was killed by an associate of Moratu Saman and this incident renewed the hatred Chaminda had towards Moratu Saman.

Nillu’s brother in law, Upul was set on getting his revenge on Moratuw Saman and this hatred cemented a close friendship between Chaminda and Upul.

During this period a leading politician in the area, engaged the services of Moratu Saman for various activities. In return for the services rendered to the politician, the police was asked to turn a blind eye on the criminal activities of Moratu Saman. In no time Moratu Saman became a very powerful and much feared man in Moratuwa

Chaminda and Upul went ahead with their plan of revenge and in a small way purchased firearms and gathered together a small band of friends who had similar grievances with Moratu Saman.

Unfortunatel for them Chaminda and Upul got nabbed by the police with weapons and were produced in Courts and remanded. While in prison they stuck up a friendship with Nawala Nihal who was also serving a prison sentence. Nawala Nihal was a well-known underworld character.

Moratu Saman is getting too big for his shoes, we have to teach him a good lesson" said Nawala Nihal to his newfound friend. "We will wipe out Moratu Saman, then you can be the king of Moratuwa."

Nawala Nihal and Moratu Saman the two notorious underworld characters, had at one time both been in prison together and had clashed on a minor altercation. This incident had irked Nawala Nihal who had a short fuse.

Thoppi Chaminda came out of prison a hardcore criminal with a good knowledge of the underworld. He also was happy in his knowledge that he had the backing of Nawala Nihal.

It could be said that Nawala Nihal who was looked upon as the undisputed ‘king of the underworld’, was reigning from inside the prison. He introduced a new friend to Chaminda by the name of "eta Indika" who hailed also from Moratuwa.

They drew up a plan to kill Moratu Saman in Moratuwa and Nawala Nihal even though in prison at that time provided the necessary weapons to Thoppi Chaminda. All went according to schedule and Moratu Saman was killed in a lonely area in Moratuwa, while travelling in a van.

With the demise of Moratu Saman, Thoppi Chaminda and Eta Indika took over Moratu Saman’s place. Chaminda got into the kappam trade and never failed to pay royalty to Nawala Nihal. Chaminda now was embroiled in all sorts of crime and both Indika and Chaminda were well known hired

killers, who killed even innocent people.

Though the police did their best to apprehend these gangsters they were elusive as they derived their source of information from the Police itself.

Chaminda and his gang during a period of two years were responsible for the death of 17 persons, among them was Ranasinghe who was killed in Ratmalana. A little child who was walking on the pavement was a victim during the shootout. No one dared make a police complaint against Chaminda.

Thoppi Chaminda had his bank account at the Commercial Bank branch in Moratuwa and the kappam money was deposited into this account by the businessmen.

According to the police, Chaminda was responsible for the killing of a businessman in Kelaniya known as Itali Jagath and the Western Province P.C. member Nimal Gunawardena. The special Crime Investigation Unit of the Police Headquarters

took over the investigation. The Special Unit was in given in charge to H Samarasinghe.

Nawala Nihal was now using Chaminda and Indika to wipe out all his enemies. Both of them carried out Nihal’s orders without any hesitation.

Chaminda who had got married a couple of years earlier lived in Wadduwa with his wife and daughter. He also had a very close friend in Nallur, Jaffna whom he visited to evade being arrested.

The hit list of Chaminda contained 20 names, of whom 17 he had already wiped out. Lasantha was one of the three persons left on the list and he was well aware that Chaminda was gunning for him.

Lasantha had approached the Police seeking protection against Chaminda and was looked after in exchange for much needed information about Chaminda.

One day with six gangsters in the vehicle armed with three T 56’s, Chaminda walked into a furniture shop at Moratumulla and threatened the owner with a pistol.

"Do you know me" asked Chaminda. "I need Rs five lakhs by tomorrow morning. These Police fellows are behind us, so we need money. This is the account number, deposit the money without and then inform the OIC of `D6`D6`D6 Police that u have deposited the money."

This was Thoppi Chaminda’s last crime.

Chaminda and his gang were on their way to Nawala, when Chief Inspector Samudrajeewa received a message from an informant.

"Sir, Thoppiya and Bandu are in a van and have stopped near the motor bicycle shop"

Samudrajeewa and his team did not waste time and rushed over to apprehend Chaminda. They found Chaminda and Bandu inspecting a brand new Bajaj motor bicycle. So intent were they that they were unaware of the police presence until they were grabbed by their necks.

Both Bandu and Chaminda were then shoved into the Police van to be taken to the station and remanded. C.I. Samudrajeeve who was following the van in his jeep suddenly noticed that the van was zig zagging across the road and eventually rammed into a post and stopped.

He rushed across and found the driver of the Police van strangled in his seat while Bandu and Chaminda made a frantic attempt to flee the vehicle. Both criminals were shot at and succumbed to their injuries.

The townsfolk of Moratuwa on hearing of the demise of Chaminda were jubilant and indulged themselves with lighting firecrackers.

On checking with the Commercial Bank it was revealed that Chaminda’s bank balance was in the region of 24 lakhs.


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