Those who accuse President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s
government of complicity in Maheswaran’s killing should take a
realistic view on political killings. During the UNP-LTTE
honeymoon (May 1989 to June 1990) the LTTE operated freely. No
one wanted to dispute Premadasa whose idiotic handling of the
negotiations gave a free hand to the LTTE. In the Northern and
Eastern Provinces, Premadasa ordered the army to vacate
strategic camps including Point Pedro and Valvettiturai to
appease the LTTE. He also released Manohari Daniels, an LTTE
operative who was serving a long prison term for carrying out a
car bomb attack at Maradana along with over a dozen LTTE cadres.
Tigers strike in Colomb
On May 7, 1990 the LTTE assassinated Batticaloa
District EPRLF MP Sam Thambimuttu and his wife Kala in Colombo.
The UNP did absolutely nothing as LTTE assassin struck at will.
Still the peace caravan continued.
LTTE assassins took the lives of two more MPs V.
Yogasangari and K. Kanagaratnam on June 10 and July 15, 1990
They were followed by three high profile
assassinations which brought the UNP down to its knees. State
Minister for Defence Ranjan Wijeratne, and President Ranasinghe
Premadasa died in separate attacks in Colombo.
Babu and Premadasa’s valet
Premadasa’s assassin identified as Babu had been
a close associate of P.M. Mohideen, the slain leader’s valet.
The assassin had been with Mohideen for over two years and had
visited Moneragala, Kataragama, Kurunegala, Pelmadulla,
Embilipitiya and Ambanpola. He had also been to Sucharitha.
Although the suicide cadre who approached the President on a
push cycle had been blocked by police commandos, Mohideen had
signalled the assassin to come. The assassination of Premadasa
guarded by several hundred personnel from the Presidential
Security Division (PSD) and the Special Task Force (STF)
highlighted the LTTE capability to change its tactics depending
on the target. Two dozen persons died with Premadasa including
his chief bodyguard ASP Sarath Mahinda and Chief Inspector Upali
Who killed Lalith?
Although the PA administration made a ridiculous
attempt to link an influential section of the UNP with
Athulathmudali’s assassination, police investigators had no
doubt of the LTTE’s involvement. The then government went to the
extent of ‘killing’ a front-page news item in the Daily News
which revealed the LTTE hand in the former National Security
But a section of the UNP, too, questioned the
assassinations of Athulathmudali and Premadasa. A furious
Dulanjali accused of the then government of cleaning the scene
of the attack at Armour Street. In an interview with this
writer, she severely criticised the government for failing to
conduct a proper investigation. The recovery of a body of youth
about 150 meters away from the political platform where a lone
assassin shot Athulathmudali triggered speculation that the
former National Security Minister was a victim of a UNP
conspiracy. The recovery of a pistol and a National Identity
Card which was subsequently identified as a fake prompted the
DUNF to level a series of allegations against the UNP. It was
alleged that the youth whose body was found had been held by
Arambawalage Don Upali Ranjith alias Soththi Upali, a notorious
hoodlum who was on the payroll of the UNP bigwigs at that time.
UNP, EPDP link
Rebel UNP MP Premachandra and some other
spokesmen pointed the finger at the EPDP. The DUNF demanded the
immediate removal of special facilities given to the EPDP which
had declared its support for the UNP at the May 17 Provincial
Council elections. The DUNF pushed the then Defence Secretary
Gen. Cyril Ranatunga to disarm the EPDP and also withdraw
special identity cards issued to cadres operating in the city
and its suburbs.
Nimal survives suicide attack
Minister Nimal Siripala was one of the few
politicians to survive a suicide attack. The minister visiting
Jaffna in the aftermath of security forces bringing the entire
peninsula under their control received injuries in the blast
triggered by a woman suicide cadre who came on a push cycle. The
July 96 blast killed senior police and army officials based in
Ministers indicted for Ellawela murder
The killing of Ratnapura District PA MP Nalanda
Ellawella on February 11 1997 shocked the country. The PA
accused the then UNP MPs and Mahinda Ratnatilleka of killing the
young politician. Today, both of them are with the SLFP-led
ruling coalition, having secured ministerial portfolios. The
Attorney General on Thursday (January 10) served indictments on
them and six others at the Ratnapura High Court as accused in
the murder of former PA MP (Ellawela contested on the PA ticket)
and police constable T.M. Jayasena in 1997.
In June 1988, the LTTE attacked PLOTE MP
Vythilingam Balachandran’s residence situated at Anna Street,
Pandarikulam. He escaped the attack.
Tigers assassinate Thangadurai
Trincomalee district MPs A. Thangadurai (July 5,
1997) and Mohammed Maharoof (July 20, 1997) and Saranabawan
Shanmuganathan (July 15, 1998) who represented the Vanni
District died in the hands of assassins. Although I couldn’t
remember now, Thangadurai’s assassination fuelled speculation
that a group opposed to the LTTE was involved. Unfortunately
police never made a breakthrough.
TULF stalwart Thangadurai who publicly
acknowledged the futility in pursuing four cardinal principles
placed at Thimpu namely recognition of Tamils as a distinct
national entity, an identified Tamil homeland whose integrity
was guaranteed and their inalienable right to self
determination, was targeted at a school function. The LTTE
attack also claimed the lives of school Principal Rajeswari
Thanabalasingham and several other civilians. The MP who had
facilitated government assistance to the needy people of the
East had earned the wrath of the LTTE. LTTE gunmen shot dead UNP
MP Mohammed Ehuttar Hadjiar Maharoof, his six-year-old son and
the principal of the Van Ella Muslim School in an ambush on the
Trincomalee-Kuchchaveli road. The popular MP was on his way to
Irrakandy when gunmen sprayed his vehicle with automatic fire as
it passed Uppaveli.
Indian trained terrorist turned MP killed
The LTTE assassinated Vanni District PLOTE MP
Shanmuganathan alias Wasanthan (36) by triggering a claymore
mine blast at Rambaikulam, Vavuniya. His three-year-old son too
died in the blast. Wasanthan wasn’t an ordinary MP. He had been
among the first batches of Indian trained cadres who led attacks
against Sri Lankan forces. The one-time PLOTE commander had been
in IPKF custody for about a year.
The assassination of Dr. Neelan Tiruchelvam
(National List MP) on July 29, 1999, Jaffna District MP A.
Nadarajah on November 2, 1999, C. V. Gunaratne on June 8, 2000,
Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar (National List MP) on
August 12, 2005, Batticaloa District MP A. Chandraneru on May 9,
2005, Joseph Pararajasingham on December 25, 2005 and Nadarajah
Raviraj on November 10, 2006 highlighted the growing danger
Charismatic politician Tiruchelvam died near the
Rosmead Place-Kynsey Road junction in a suicide attack carried
out by a male LTTE cadre.
JVP kills UNP MP
The JVP didn’t specifically target politicians
during its short-lived first April 1971 insurgency. But the
second insurgency launched in the immediate aftermath of the
signing of the Indo-Lanka accord on July 29 targeted
It was one of the most violent chapters of our
bloody politics. The JVP killed Hambantota District MP Jinadasa
Weerasinghe at Angunakolapalessa on August 1, 1987. The
assassination was followed by an unprecedented hand grenade
attack on the then President JR Jayewardene on August 18. It
claimed the life of Matara District MP Keerhthi Abeywickrema.
Had the attacker succeeded in directing the grenade attack as
intended, it would have killed several UNP heavyweights
including JRJ, Prime Minister Premadasa and Lalith
Athulathmudali. That would have changed the direction of the
A gang of JVP men ambushed Weerasinghe’s vehicle
as he was on his way home. The MP who got out of the vehicle was
ordered to raise his hands before gunmen shot him.
Question mark over Jayatilleke’s assassination
But the assassinations of Minister Lionel
Jayatilleke (late September 1988) and former Agalawatte MP Meril
Kariyawasam (late September 89) fuelled speculation of a
possible inside job. Although police blamed the JVP for both
killings, some believed that they may have been assassinated by
some other party. Jayatilleke had been on his way home from
Nidangala Viharaya, Kuliyapitiya after participating in a
pinnacle laying ceremony when gunmen attacked his car.
Kariyawasam who had been a former Deputy Minister had been
Chairman of the Rubber Research Board at the time of his
assassination. Police also failed to make a breakthrough in the
assassination of UNP MP Anura Daniel in 1989 in his Kandy
Yalegama gunned down
The assassination of former SLFP MP S.B.
Yalegama on May 28, 88 at his Matale office situated close
proximity to Matale police station too was credited to the JVP’s
account. Yalegama who won general elections in 65 and 70 but
lost P.B. Kaviratne of the UNP in 1977 had handed in over his
nomination to contest the June 2, 1988 provincial council polls
on the United Socialist Alliance ticket.
The hand grenade attack on a UNP rally organised
by Tyronne Fernando in late November 1989 wounded about 50
persons including Gamini Lokuge, Tyronne Fernando and Nanda
Mathew. The attack, the first major incident after the UNP
executed JVP leader Rohana Wijeweera prompted at least a section
of the UNP to believe that some other interested party would
have carried out the attack.
‘Tragic but inevitable’
The JVP could at least shed light on mysterious
killings by acknowledging the political assassinations ordered
by the party. It would be in the best interests of the country
as some faceless killers or at least their mentors could be
The National Peace Council called Kadirgamar’s
assassination tragic but inevitable. Would it express a similar
sentiment on the assassination of Maheswaran or any other
politician allegedly killed by the government or any party
linked to the government security forces. The likes of National
Peace Council wouldn’t do that.
The recent National Peace Council statement on
the assassination of Dasanayake was evidence of its ridiculous
thinking that the government decision to quit the Oslo-arranged
CFA would trigger more violence. Had anyone bothered to analyse
the LTTE strategy it would be clear that it would have continued
its campaign of death and destruction regardless of the CFA.
Tigers zero in on Ratwatte
The recent revelation that former SLFP
heavyweight Anuruddha Ratwatte was under LTTE surveillance
highlighted the enemy’s mentality.
The LTTE is believed to be targeting former
Deputy Minister of Defence Anuruddha Ratwatte who led the
Riviresa campaign which brought the Jaffna peninsula under
government control in late 1995-early ’96.
Naval troops, deployed at Ussimukkanthural in
Mannar on Wednesday have recovered what a military official
identified as a satellite image of Ratwatte’s residence at
Aniwatte in Kandy.
The recovery of the map has alerted the
government to a possible threat on the former minister.
Call to probe Ashraff’s death
The recent call by Nazeer Ahamed, Adviser to
President Mahinda Rajapakse for an inquiry into the death of
SLMC founder leader M.H.M. Ashraff in September 2000 shouldn’t
be ignored. The SLMC leader and another PA candidate contesting
the Digamadulla electorate died when the SLAF Mi 17 carrying a
group of civilians crashed onto a hilltop in Kegalle district.
They were to contest the October 10, 2000 general elections.
As highlighted repeatedly we have a short
memory. Hardly anyone would have remembered the LTTE attempt to
ambush a minister or a group of ministers leaving Parliament in
March, 2000. Had the killer squad which took up position near
the Cotta Road-Castle Street roundabout escaped detection, it
would have pounced on a convoy leaving Parliament.
Thinamirasu editor killed
The assassination of EPDP MP Arjunarajah
Nadarajah who edited the widely read Thinamurasu on
November 2, 1999 near Wellawatte Railway Station highlighted the
complexity of the situation. Despite the paper being funded by
the EPDP, Nadarajah took an overtly pro-LTTE stance on critical
issues and this may have led to friction
The December 1999 attempt on President Chandrika
Kumaratunga caused injuries to several politicians. Ministers
G.L. Peiris and Alavi Moulana were among the parliamentarians
who received injuries.
Had UNP National List MP Ali Zahir Moulana
remained in the country after his role in helping Karuna to
reach Colombo after losing the Good Friday battle (April 2004)
he would have been killed. Moulana fled after resigning his seat
on the party’s request. Strangely he was the only MP punished by
any political party whereas many MPs accused of underworld
dealings, waste, corruption and criminal negligence continued to