Who could have shot Duraiappah at Varadaraja Perumal temple, Ponnalai?

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Over three decades after the assassination of the then Jaffna Mayor Alfred Duraiappah, allegedly by Velupillai Prabhakaran, the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) has been told that the assassin could have been TULF stalwart A. Amirthalingam’s eldest son, Kandeepan, now living in Europe.

The LLRC, headed by former Attorney General C. R. de Silva, is investigating the collapse of the Norwegian-led peace process and the circumstances leading to the Eelam War IV.

K. T. Rajasingham, Editor of the Asian Tribune, has told the LLRC that the assassin was not Prabhakaran as claimed, but Kandeepan, who shot dead Duraiappah for being critical of his mother, Mangayarkkarasi. Duraiappah was killed on July 27, 1975, at Varadaraja Perumal temple located at Ponnalai, in the Jaffna district. 

The LTTE assassinated Amirthalingam at his Colombo residence in the presence of his wife on July 13, 1989. All three members of the LTTE hit squad were shot dead by Amirthalingam’s police bodyguard, T. A. Nissanka. The 76-year-old Mrs. Amirthalingam, accompanied by her youngest son, Dr. Bahirathan visited Nissanka at his home at Ambanpitiya, Kegalle on May 29, 2009, ten days after the army killed Prabhakaran on the banks of the Nanthikadal lagoon.

Responding to a query by The Island, ex-DIG Ram Sundaralingam, who had been in Jaffna at the time of the Duraiappah assassination, said that among the youth investigated by CID Inspector Bastianpillai, in connection with the killing, was Amirthalingam’s eldest son, though the investigators didn’t take him in probably due to absence of any evidence.

The LTTE killed Bastianpillai and two other policemen involved in anti-terrorist investigations and buried them along with their vehicle at the Murugan farm early April 1978.

Sundaralingam, now serving the Interpol, had been SP Colombo Crimes and was visiting Jaffna in connection with a bribery case involving a police officer heard at the District Court of Colombo.

Sundaralingam told The Island: Duraiappah’s mother-in-law, Mrs Coomaraswamy over the phone informed him of the attack and the victim being admitted to the Jaffna Hospital. I rushed to the hospital, but Duraiappah had been dead on admission. I also visited Duraiappah’s residence and was told Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike was coming for the funeral. IGP Senanayake who spoke to me indicated the PM wanted me to remain in Jaffna until the end of the funeral."

Sundaralingam said that Premier Bandaranaike had been concerned about infighting in the SLFP in Jaffna and inquired from him whether the assassination was in anyway linked to that. The Chennai-based Sundaralingam said that he had told Premier Bandaranaike that an armed group operating in the north was responsible for the assassination. "I told her on my own and the police that was the ‘work’ of one of the Tamil youth groups operating in the north, though I never mentioned any names of any suspects, as it was too premature to identify the actual gunmen. The inquiry was conducted by Inspector Bastiampillai, who was reporting to the IGP/DIG CID."

The respected police veteran said that no case was filed in Jaffna Courts regarding the assassination.

A former Counsel for several terrorist suspects, arrested by the police in the ‘70s, told The Island yesterday that nothing had transpired at that time to indicate the identity of the persons involved in the assassination. According to him, Tamil youth had been angry with the Jaffna based politicians for letting them down, though they supported their political campaigns. The veteran lawyer said that terrorists had first targeted Duraiappah’s driver before they zeroed-in on the political stalwart.

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